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The Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park: These pygmies are the smallest ethnic group of hunters and food gatherers living in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park: The Batwa are the smallest ethnic group of people living in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. The Batwa lived in the forests of the Virunga conservation area but no more. The Batwa people lived every day and night in the forest alongside different wild animals. In 1991 they were forced to move out of the forest Mgahinga national park by the government of Uganda at the time of gazetting the park.

When the Batwa were asked to move out of Mgahinga Gorilla park, they settled at the park boundaries in order not to move so far away from their initial homes. Without any knowledge about how they would survive outside the forest, the Batwa started copying the way of life of the locals in order to survive.

The Batwa pygmies while living in the forest of Mgahinga Gorilla park were hunter gathers, they killed animals with bows and arrows, made fire using stones and sticks, collected honey, ate stems of some plants and they used to eat small insects. The Batwa after leaving Mgahinga national park slowly got used to life outside the forest.

Even though the Batwa left the jungle of Mgahinga Gorilla park since the government wanted to protect the animals more so the mountain gorillas, the government never forgot them. Uganda wildlife authority with support from United States Agency for International Development and the Netherlands Embassy created a magical trail now called the Batwa trail.

The Batwa trail was created to keep the Batwa pygmies stay in touch with their original home. The Batwa trail was made to make people visiting Mgahinga national park experience the way of life of the Batwa when they still lived in the forest. The Batwa trail experience Mgahinga tourists deep into the forest and it’s normally the Batwa local guides who lead them.

The Batwa local guides lead tourists through the Batwa trail because they are the ones who know best the forest and they know stories of how their great grandfathers lived in the jungle. Walking through the Batwa trail can be done in the morning or the evening and it does start with a prayer to Biheeko who is the god of the Batwa in the forest. It’s believed that when you pray god protects you while in the forest.

While using the Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park, the guide goes around telling you stories of how they used to live in the jungle. The guides will show you how arrows and bows were used to kill small animals, they will show you which plants they ate as food and they will show you the different plants that were used for local medicine. The Batwa guides will also illustrate how they rubbed sticks to make fire.

The Batwa guides while using the Batwa trail will also take you to the Garamba cave below Mgahinga national park. The Garamba cave is where the king of the Batwa used to live. The home of the Batwa king comprised royal courts, administrative courts, and many more.

The time taken to complete the Batwa trail normally depends on the speed of tourists, the nature of the trails, and how long tourists stop watching things in the jungle. At the end of the Batwa trails, tourists will stop and listen to stories of long ago, the women will dance and sing different traditional songs. While the Batwa dance, some tourists can always join them to enjoy the African dances.

At the end of the Batwa trail experience Mgahinga, some tourists do continue to the communities of the Batwa where they visit different homesteads, schools, or hospitals. When one visits their community, they do get an opportunity of seeing how they live their day to day life and they do get a chance to interact with the locals.

By using the Batwa trail, you pay a certain amount f money which is paid to the local guides and the other goes to the community to support different development projects. The Batwa cultural trail experience costs $80 for foreign non-residents, $70 for foreign residents, and UGX50,000 for citizens of East African member citizens.

On your gorilla trekking safari to Mgahinga national park always get time to go for the Batwa trail experience Mgahinga because it is the best way of knowing what used take place in the forest when these pygmies were still living there. You will be able to learn a lot about their history and about their eviction from the jungle by the government of Uganda.

What to pack for the Batwa trail walk in Mgahinga national park?

If you are coming to Mgahinga national park for gorilla trekking but you want to try out the Batwa trail, you need pack the right equipment to help you complete the trail. You need waterproof hiking shoes since trails sometimes can be muddy, long cotton stocks, long-sleeved clothes, a drinking water bottle, energy giving snacks, a camera, and insect repellents among others.

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