Much as Bwindi is widely known for gorilla trekking, a visit to the batwa community is surely a not miss on your gorilla safari to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Batwa community trails are usually done after or before gorilla tour but the experience is worth doing. These Batwa trails lead you to the batwa communities and into their homes bringing you close to these ancient people who for thousands of years co-existed with wild animals in the forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park before the introduction of gorilla tourism and conservation. Though done for a short time, the batwa trails in Bwindi are related to the batwa cultural trail in Mgahinga gorilla national park in which travelers spend the whole day experiencing the batwa’s traditional forest life.
With the introduction of gorilla tourism in in Bwindi, the Batwa were evicted to the forest edges. The batwa community walks in Bwindi take you to batwa local communities where you learn more about their forest life. It’s not just a conventional nature walk but an in-depth interaction which increase an understanding of who the batwa are. You may meet some small groups of batwa during gorilla trekking but a walk out to their homes is an amazing experience.
Who are the batwa?
Batwa pygmies are also known as the “forest keepers” who lived harmoniously with wild animals in the jungle for thousands of years. These people would make small huts made of leaves and tree branches where they would stay comfortably. Batwa pygmies did not do farming but lived a happy life in the forest. However despite their long living and free access to all forest resources, these indigenous people had no legal ownership of the forestland a reason why they were evicted with no compensation. Today, Batwa live in small communities and they welcome travelers in their homes sharing them with detailed information regarding their traditional forest life. Batwa are believed to have loved the forest like their lives and they knew well that God had blessed them with the forest as their own.
These people depended fully on the forest for a livelihood and they would freely roam all over the forest for honey, wild yams, fruits, firewood as well as hunting down small animals on which they survived. Batwa trails in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park are different from the Batwa trail in Mgahinga gorilla national park but both experiences reward you with a memorable experience.
What to expect
As you travel to batwa communities, expect to meet very short indigenous people from whose eyes you witness true love for the forest especially when they are narrating their eviction from the forest. On reaching their homes, travelers are allowed to take part in traditional activities such as how to make bush fire, preparing local food and traditional dances. All this is done out side the forest unlike in Mgahinga where demonstrate their traditional forest life inside the forest.
Why visit the batwa communities
Batwa pygmies have an interesting history of how they harmoniously lived together with wild animals in the forest. In trying to adapt to a normal life after their eviction from the forest, batwa have now started different coffee shops where travelers can enjoy coffee as they listen to stories, others make craft products such as baskets, hand bags, hats, bead and mats among others. Travelers are encouraged to buy these products as an indirect support to these less developed people. More still, an interaction with the batwa is a great opportunity to understand in depth their ancient forest life and their co-existence with wild animals.
In conclusion therefore, be part of batwa community trails in Bwindi, meet the indigenous forest people and enjoy a memorable time.