Cultural Encounters In Mgahinga Gorilla (Batwa Forest trial)

For generations, Mgahinga’s dense forests were home to the indigenous Batwa: hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine and the interesting Batwa Forest Trial is unique cultural trail which is led by Batwa guides, and visitors will learn about day-to-day life as a hunter-gatherer in the forest, and watch an astonishing performance in the sacred Ngarama Cave.

The Batwa Guides and Hunters

batwa-hunters-mgahinga

When the national park was established the Batwa were evicted from the forest and abandoned their traditional lifestyle. The Batwa were restricted to their traditional forest land and the only time they were allowed to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on the Batwa Trail, on which visitors will come to know the magic of the Batwa’s ancient home while enjoying nature walks and learning about the cultural heritage.

During this encounter the Batwa demonstrate their hunting styles, collect honey, point out medicinal plants and show how to make bamboo cups. Tourists are welcomed to the sacred Garama Cave which was once a refuge for the Batwa, Here the women of the community perform a sorrowful song which echoes really around the depths of the dark cave, and impacts guests with a moving sense of the fullness of this disappearing culture.

Part of the tour fee is given to the guides and musicians and the rest goes to the Batwa community fund to cover school fees and books, and improve their livelihoods.

The most important highlights to follow while enjoying the Batwa Trial are
Kindly turn off your flashlight in the Ngarama Cave, as ghostly singing begins to echo in the pitch darkness, making fire requires team work, Watch your Batwa guides create fire to smoke out bees, See a traditional Batwa grass hut - quick to build and to demolish which was essential for this nomadic culture, Enjoy the lively dance at the cave´s entrance as the Batwa women sing a traditional song to welcome their guests, Walk through the pristine Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes.

Children and women performing traditional dance

batwa-cultural-dance

The tour which almost takes a full day requires the tourists to come with the following; packed lunch and plenty of drinking water, Good hiking shoes or boots, sun screen and a hat, The weather varies greatly at this altitude – we recommend bringing layers, including a waterproof jacket, Tips for the guides and performers.

Copyright © 2015 MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK

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