MGAHINGA BATWA TRAIL – Cultural Encounters in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

The Mgahinga Batwa trail offers a cultural encounter and Mgahinga Forest experience through the eyes and lead of its first inhibitors, the “Twa” or commonly known as “Batwa” when many of pygmies. The Batwa are distributed across equatorial Africa in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, D.R. Congo, and other countries. They average about 4”11 ft. in height and they are known as the original inhibitors of the rain forests and used to live a hunter and gatherer life. They survived on forest resources for food, medicine, and shelter and left a good carbon print living together with animals, not constructing permanent structures.

In Uganda, the former forest dwellers are believed to have been living in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national parks near the Bantu tribes of Bakiga and Bafumbira before they were evicted in the 1990s after the need to protect the endangered gorillas in these parks. After the eviction, they were given no compensation because they had no land titles for the forest and they became conservation refugees in an unfamiliar and world outside the forest. Product developers together with Uganda Wildlife Authority created the activity of the Batwa trail that gave them an option to earn and live in the new life by engaging in tourism to reduce the negative impact like poverty and alcohol abuse after eviction.

In 2012, Uganda Wildlife Authority commissioned the Batwa trail as a way to experience how the Batwa used to live. The 5.6km trail, offers tourists a chance to walk with the Batwa from their home through the forest as they demonstrate how they used to hunt using an arrow and bow, making fire by rubbing two sticks together, harvesting honey using smoke, using bamboo to collect water, and also a visit to Ngarama caves.

At Biheeko where the trial begins, a prayer is said to the Batwa god of the forest. Here the elders kneel down and ask for guidance and blessings as they enter the forest. The Ngarama cave beneath the Mgahinga Mountains is said to have been home for the King of the Batwa and it has royal courts, armory, granary, and other compartments. At the end of the trail, there are performances of songs and dances and storytelling by the Batwa to the guests.

The trail has made the Batwa re-unite with the forest after many years and has kept their culture and traditions alive. After being evicted and loss of their traditional land it seemed like it was all over for them living outside the forest but this gives them hope.

So after gorilla tracking or golden monkey tracking, you can engage in the Batwa trail and cultural tour while at Mgahinga.


Visiting the Batwa is not poverty tourism and you don’t need to show emotions and pity but your presence alone empowers them and can create a difference in their lives.