The Batwa cultural Experience
Being the original dwellers of the Bwindi impenetrable national park jungle, the Batwa were known as “The Keepers of the Forest.” The history of these small-statured people is long and rich. The Batwa survived by hunting small game using arrows or nets and gathering plants and fruit in the rain forest. They lived in huts constructed of leaves and branches, moving frequently in search of fresh supplies of food. The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures, including the mountain gorillas, Some anthropologists estimate that pygmy tribes such as the Batwa have existed in the equatorial forests of Africa for 60,000 years or more.
In 1992, the lives of the Batwa pygmies changed forever. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest became a national park and World Heritage Site to protect the 350 endangered mountain gorillas within its boundaries. The Batwa were evicted from the park. Since they had no title to land, they were given no compensation. The Batwa became conservation refugees in an unfamiliar, unforested world.
Many Batwa died during the early years of exile, and the tribe’s very existence was severely threatened. Since 2001, American medical missionaries Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann have dedicated themselves to serving the Batwa in southwest Uganda. The Kellermanns purchased land and established programs to improve conditions for the tribe—home-building, schools, a hospital and clinics, water and sanitation projects, income generation, and the promotion of indigenous rights.
This is an optional activity you can do during your visit to the Bwindi forest gorilla tracking activity, either through the buhoma side or nkuringo side of gorilla tracking. You can as well spend an extra day to visit these keepers of the forest. The other option is visiting these communities through the forest walk.
Step back in time to see how the Batwa lived in this jungle, one of the most beautiful jungles on earth and home of the famous mountain gorillas. Enjoy an incredible day hike in the rain forest with Batwa guides, see how the Batwa lived and hunted, learn about medicinal plants, and watch for animals and birds.