Bwindi Batwa cultural experience


Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a protected area of typical rainforests located in Uganda’s southwestern region on the eastern edge of the Albertine rift valley bordering Democratic Republic of Congo in the west. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a home to more than half of the word’s remaining gorilla population and thus the major reason for its conservation and preservation. In Uganda, these gentle giants can only be encountered in only two National Parks namely Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.  Therefore, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is not only a place where one can encounter our closest cousins known as the mountain gorillas but also a place where you can come into close proximity with the first inhabitants of the Bwindi forests regarded as the forest keepers and have an opportunity of learning about their culture and ways of life. These forest keepers are known as the Batwa people or the Batwa pygmies.

The Batwa pygmies entirely depended on the Bwindi forests for survival and surely lived in harmony with mountain gorillas in the forests. This means that the forests provided whatever they needed to survive for example, the Batwa hunted down small animals and gathered wild fruits for food, collected honey, depended on tree leaves, stems and roots for medicines, constructed tree houses with grass, leaves and sticks between tree brunches, they used animal skin and hides for clothing to mention but a few. Later on by around 1991, these indigenous forest people started to be pushed out of the Bwindi forests by the Ugandan government when the forests were declared to be a National Park aimed at conserving the forests and save the endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife in the Park. According to the Batwa, they started to live a miserable life in refugee camps and other patched settlements around the protected area and the current Bwindi Impenetrable National Park forcing them to adopt to other activities for survival such as cultivation. Due to whatever that happened, the Batwa pygmies became refugees, lost their mighty forests and lost their indigenous traditions and culture.

Therefore the Bwindi Batwa cultural experience takes you to the Batwa communities to have a lifetime experience as you learn about how they thrived and lived in the forests while you make visible comparisons to their day to day life experience. This Bwindi Batwa cultural experience starts with a hike through the Bwindi forests led by a Batwa guide while you learn about several plant species that they used as the medicinal herbs and various wild fruits that they usually gathered for survival. You proceed with your Batwa cultural experience to their communities where you will meet the Batwa people, their traditional leaders and herbalists. Here, you learn about how they lived in the forests and how they lived in harmony with some animals like the mountain gorillas through storytelling that will all be told to you. You will also have an opportunity of learning about their traditional ways for example using the bow and arrow that they used when hunting, how they collected honey, collecting herbal medicines from tree leaves, stems and roots and many more. This cultural experience also exposes you to how they lived in the grass thatched houses, caves and how they constructed them, you will have the opportunity to engage yourselves in preparing their local meals that you will share with the local Batwa people. Bwindi Batwa cultural experience is always brought to an end with the Batwa cultural performances where one is able to enjoy their songs and energetic dances that may attract you to join.

Therefore this is an opportunity for you to directly support the Batwa communities by engaging yourselves in the Bwindi Batwa cultural experience and buying their handwoven sculptures and art crafts of which the money is used to construct schools and hospitals so as to improve on their standards of living.

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