Discover the History and Culture of Uganda‘s Last Forest People.
The Batwa Trail project is a joint initiative of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda and Kisoro District Local Government, facilitated by the International Gorilla Conservation Program, the Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration and USAID for the benefit of the Batwa people.
Batwa guides take visitors on a day hike along an 8km mountain trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to share with them the secrets of the primeval forest, which used to be their home. Tourists can experience the extra ordinary life the Batwa once led in their original settings, while the Batwa have a chance to expose their unique culture to the wider world.
The knowledge the Batwa possess of the forest is an invaluable resource which can significantly contribute to nature conservation efforts. Today, the Batwa work hand in hand with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and are no longer involved in illegal activities in the forest.
The Batwa Trail project is also an important step in preserving the indigenous culture of the Batwa and passing the traditions on to the younger generation who was born outside the forest. It allows the Forest people, often discriminated by the majority societies, to take pride in their culture and contributes to general community development in the area.
Recent genetic studies suggest that Forest Peoples are one of the oldest groups of people inhabiting the earth .Their societies date nearly 60,000 years, compared to 14,000 years for most of the peoples of the world. Batwa are indigenous people who were the oldest recorded inhabitants in the Great Lakes region of Africa, the original ancient dwellers of the trans boundary Greater Virunga forest.
Among its many secrets, the Gahinga Mountain hides an underground lava tube, the Garama cave All Batwa see the cave as an important part of their cultural attachment to the forest .The sacred heart of the forest, a shrine, a hide- out and food store, the cave was also used as a council chamber where secret meetings between community leaders and the king, and courts of law were held .
During wars between other ethnic groups, the cave was at times used as a defensive shelter. But the Batwa would withdraw there to avoid fighting, rather than to use it a place to fight from.
Many Batwa communities considered the cave as a very important location for the worship. Within the cave there used to be individual small houses or shrines where each family would go and worship their own ancestors and spirits.