The Batwa Pygmy Experience is one of the Cultural experiences that you should never miss out when you come for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The Batwa are like the owners of the gorillas because they lived with them and they know much more about the mountain gorillas in Uganda than anyone in this world.
Before Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park was reserved for the conservation of Mountain gorillas and other wildlife in Uganda, Bwindi Forest national park was also a home for the Batwa Pygmies who you should call the original dwellers ad keepers of Bwindi forest. They lived along with the mountain gorillas both depending on Bwindi forest for survival until 1993 when Bwindi Forests was gazetted at a national park and the park authorities begun to relocate the Batwa pygmies form the forest to the nearby towns and communities.
Before 1993, the pygmies lived a real African traditional life. They survived form the resources in Bwindi rainforest by hunting with their spears and arrows and also gathering forest fruits for food. Their only treatment was the use of harnessed honey and medicine from shrubs. They would make shelter using climbing plants, trees and leaves from the forest.
The Batwa never ate or killed mountain gorillas and up to now, no Ugandan tribe eats gorillas. They would not kill animals they would not eat and the gorillas are not a threat to their lives. We can therefore say that the Batwa Pygmies lived in harmony with the mountain gorillas, the forest itself, birds and other animals in Bwindi forest.
When they were evicted from Bwindi forest, their life changed because they had no land, they were not used to the new life. The Batwa pygmies are now living an endangered life but with their authentic culture and knowledge which you should experience when you come for a Uganda gorilla trekking safari.
The Batwa encounter is Uganda’s most famous cultural encounter and this activity is done in Bwindi Impenetrable national park in the Buhoma sector and Nkuringo Sector, north and south of the park respectively. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park has two sectors; the northern sector and the southern sector of the park. The park is located in south western Uganda
It is approximately 8-9 hours drive from Kampala, Uganda’s capital to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south-western Uganda.
By air, visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable National park can board a charter plane from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi airstrip and then drive for about 1.5 hours to the park
The Batwa pygmy cultural Experience begins with the visit to the Batwa craft shop with is located right in Buhoma trading centre very near to the gate of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. From the Batwa craft shop, the guide will then lead you for a hike to the native pygmy tribes communities.
The hike to the tribes community is quiet challenging as it involves hiking on the steep trails. We do not recommend the hike to the Batwa Cultural visit for clients with serious mobility issues or severe problems which could put them at a higher risk in such an isolated environment. However, the path trails are well maintained and you will hike at your own pace which makes this hike manageable.
The minimum number of visitors allowed to experience the Batwa culture is one and the maximum number is 12 people. They are two visiting sessions which means 12 clients can visit the Batwa in the morning and the other 12 clients go there in the afternoon. The entire activity takes about 5 hours and this includes hiking to the Batwa community, the encounter with the native pygmies and a return to your accommodation in Buhoma.
Please remember to come along with a rain jacket because you will be passing through a rain forest, a camera to pause with the Batwa for memorable pictures and hiking shoes to take on the mountain.
With a visit to the native pygmies for a cultural experience and the Mountain gorilla trekking encounter, your safari to Uganda will never leave you the same.