Batwa Cultural Experience in Bwindi – Uganda.
The Batwa Cultural Experience in Bwindi-Uganda is designed specifically to enrich visitors with lifestyle of the Batwa. During a visit to the gorillas, we recommend you to take a Community walk or take Batwa trail leading you to Garama Cave in Mgahinga national park to meet and have direct interaction with the Batwa. The Batwa are indigenous group of people that originally occupied forests of western Uganda including Bwind forest, Echuya, Semliki forest and forests of DR Congo. The Batwa/ pygmies were forest dwellers, who survived by hunting animals using bows and arrows as well as gathering fruits, honey, plants for food and medicine.
In 1991 Bwindi forest was gazetted as a National Park and currently a world heritage site so as to protect the endangered Mountain gorillas that reside there, but this changed the life of Batwa negatively since it led to their eviction, taking them out of their original forest habitat. Given that they were not used to the modern Environment where they had to mix with other people in the nearby communities, the Batwa began to suffer because naturally they never owned properties and land.
After realizing the beginning of their extinction in 2001, they were rescued and taken care of by well-wishers including Dr Scott Kellerman under (Kellermann Foundation) an American medical missionary, who bought them land and established programs to improve their lives by resettling them in new homes, improving water and sanitation, taking them to school, setting up hospital together with training them in different skills such as weaving Baskets, mats and wood curving that can help them to earn a living.
These projects work ensures Batwa’s indigenous rights are respected by all the people while also benefiting on the forest as national park and getting to meet tourists who contribute to their well being. Currently Batwa projects are run by Batwa Development Program (BDP), Bwindi Batwa rock and Cave settlement walk in Buhoma and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park-Batwa Cave Trail. Other Batwa Communities currently are living in Bundibugyo District near Semliki National park and in Kisoro.
The Batwa cultural experience was developed to educate their children of their heritage and share with the world their traditions. This experience is done in the communities outside the park and gives you an opportunity to enjoy and learn some of their traditional way of living such as hunting using bows and arrows, taking you to medicine men where you learn how traditional medicine work, hearing ancient legends and songs and hiking in the forest to see their traditional area of living with the help of a Batwa guide,