For over 500000 years while in the dense jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is the rarest experience in human life that only a few creatures can manage to spend. Who are the Batwa? Well, this is a commonly asked question but interestingly, the Batwa pygmies were the first occupants of an ancient tropical rain forest in Southwestern Uganda. A trip to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is not only viewing mountain gorillas in the wild but also opportunity to encounter Uganda’s most incredible pygmies.
|THE BATWA PYGMY IN THE SHELTER|
An encounter with the Batwa pygmies, is not only staring at their eyes, take your time and look at their heights; the fact is that after your cultural safari in Southwestern Uganda, you will get on your knees saying God created people but other creatures are incomparably the rarest on earth. The Batwa were popular hunters and gatherers who did not cause any negative impact on the forest. They took what they wanted and that was the end of the story! Indeed they were the “keepers of the forest!” Today, these creatures are the most marginalized group in Uganda given the fact that they were pushed out of their ancient home where they lived for countless decades. Conservation can be blamed for this but on other hand we appreciate it because we would not have any idea about these unique people!
The Batwa Trail experience is a newly established project around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is intended to restore the might tradition, dignity and hope of the Batwa pygmies which in turn will keep their traditions and culture alive for both the current and future generation. The trail is also intended to offer job opportunities to the Batwa, in form of tour guiding which in turn will help them pay the school fees of their children as well as support their well being.
Like we all have our cultural backgrounds, the Batwa equally have a tremendous cultural set up that is worthy exploring and that is why the Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the must to include while in your gorilla safari. The walk through these pygmies’ home begins with a Batwa elder who will be on her or his ancient skins as they take you through inspiring stories concerning their creation up to the time when they were keepers of the forest.
Your hike will also take you through the stunning Mount Muhabura which denotes the guide and then proceed to Mount Gahinga where the guide will go on his or her knees to demonstrate his ancient life in the forest. After, you may taste some forest berries that these hunters and gatherers used to harvest at a time, and at this point, you will also explore some valuable plant species especially those that are traditionally of medical value-known to treat blood pressure and many medical problems in life. As others may think about going to clinics or pharmacies, some creatures like the Batwa pygmies were and are still not be part of this.
As you continue, the guide will demonstrate to you how they used make fire, hunting, trapping, gathering techniques and where possible you will get hold of a bow and arrow that they used as a tool for hunting. At the end, you will be filled with lessons on how these creatures lived in the forest for that long and patiently kept the forest. As well, you will also have opportunity to see crafts like making bamboo cups and traditional clothing that the Batwa used at a time.
Arrive at Garama Caves where the Batwa king lived at a time and foreigners were not permitted to have access into place. It was from here that these people also had refuge from their enemies. Get a bit down on your knees and enter into the sacred Garama Cave and be welcomed by darkness and then thrilling songs of sorrow as the Batwa women mourn , sing touching songs as to why they were forced out their forest and wishing if they can be allowed to go back into the jungles. You will almost get yourself into tears but be strong it is their story! Get out of the Cave and excite the mind with dramatic dance and music as these ancient forest occupants demonstrate to you authentic African experiences of a life time.
In conclusion, Batwa Trail is one of the most remarkable experiences that come once in a life time. The trail is the best way to explore the Batwa ancient life styles which in turn will enrich you with a life time experiences. Discover the Batwa secrets in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest!