Batwa Cultural Trail

The Batwa Cultural Trail

The Batwa cultural trail was launched in June 2011 by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as a new tourism product in Mgahinga gorilla national park to preserve the traditional cultures of Batwa people as well as improving their standards of living outside the forest. The Batwa cultural trail is a celebration of the former forest life for the Batwa who were traditional forest dwellers before conservation and tourism was introduced in Mgahinga.

The activity exposes visitors to the ancient forest life of Batwa people especially hunting, fruit gathering, collecting honey and performing of rituals in the caves within the forest. These forest people depended wholly on the forest for food, shelter, fruits, and firewood and lived in harmony with wild animals like mountain gorillas for many years. They have however been stopped since the park was opened for conservation and tourism, they are not allowed to go back except during the Batwa trail to guide the tourists.

The Batwa cultural trail was introduced to improve the lives of the pygmies since they are the main participants and beneficiaries of the activity as guides and porters. This activity is a source of employment for the Batwa people since they are the main participants in the form of guides, dancers and porters, which helps them to earn a living. Since then Batwa cultural trail has been done as a complement of a gorilla trekking package in Mgahinga gorilla national park.

Meeting the Batwa is a rewarding travel experience spending time with the very ancient short people dressed in hides while dancing and singing their ancient songs as a way of entertaining travelers. The money earned from this activity goes back to Batwa communities in terms of food, clothes, scholastic material for children and medical services all aimed at benefiting the local people. These forest people had access to all-natural resources in the forest and lived in peace with animals in the forest until they were relocated to the forest edges and had to adjust their ways of life.

A visit to these indigenous people costs of US$80 only and payment is done at the park headquarters of Mgahinga on the actual day of the encounter. After paying, travelers enjoy a 5-6 hour walk into the forest through the lower slopes of the Virunga volcanoes into the forest to the traditional grass-thatched huts of the Batwa. You will be introduced to the Batwa kind of life as they do different activities like making fires by friction, visiting the Ngarama caves, gathering fruits, and spotting different medicinal herbs as they sing traditional songs.

After reaching the first hut, you will marvel at the actions of the guide (a Mutwa) as he kneels down praying to the gods for a blessing throughout the walk. After the short prayer by the Batwa, travelers are taken to visit different spots such as, Ngarama cave a home to the gods of the Batwa people where travelers are repeatedly asked to keep silent in honor of the gods.

From there, you visit the traditional herbalist who heals all sicknesses such as malaria, excessive bleeding, headache and backaches with traditional herbs. The guides will help you to spot various medicinal herbs, which were and are still used for medicine. You will also take part in collecting food like honey, hunting, gathering berries and other forest fruits. The long hours of walking expose tourists to the true woodland life since they encounter many animals and plant species making the experience of its own kind.

What to wear for the Batwa cultural trail?

It is important to know that the Batwa trail leads you into the deep forest, which requires proper dressing just like it is for gorilla trekking. The grounds are muddy and slippery with forest weather, which sometimes cannot be predicted. Travelers are therefore required to dress in hiking boots to ease movements, huts, rain jackets and sweaters for the cold weather and walking sticks to support you as you climb through the thick forest. All arrangements can be made with your travel agency to include time for this amazing adventure of the Batwa people.


What more would be the best experience that a visit to the pygmies the closest neighbors of Mgahinga National Park? Their ways of life is a breathtaking experience as they tell stories of how they depended on the bush for all their lives.