Formally known as ‘Pygmies’, the Batwa are widely regarded to be the oldest surviving peoples of central Africa and their culture is one of the most ancient and endangered. For thousands of years they have survived in the dark forests of the African Great Lakes region and over generations built up a symbiotic relationship with their natural home in which skills were passed down throughout their history. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, Batwa people also had a vast knowledge of forest plants, especially for medicinal purposes, they could track bees to find their hives and collect honey and had a whole range of techniques for hunting and gathering. It was customary for this knowledge to be passed on orally through dancing, song and storytelling. Sadly, the plight of the Batwa people has not been a happy one in modern times as both the gazetting of national parks and times of civil unrest in the 19th and 20th centuries have forced them from their forest homes, putting much of their traditions at risk as they struggle to both adapt and be accepted by the modern world.
The hike starts at a base camp a 30 minute drive from our Mount Gahinga Lodge, which is also the starting point for those setting out on the stunning hike up the sides of the Muhavura or Gahinga volcanoes. Members of the Batwa community and guides from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority take travelers through the dense forest and teach about the Batwa way of life. Activities on the trail include seeing traditional huts, shooting bows and arrows, seeing how they collected honey and hunted, a tour of medicinal and edible plants and concludes in Garama Cave for a song / dance performance. Not very strenuous but an all-day activity, lasting 6-8 hours.
This is one of the caves where once the crafty Batwa (who were renowned warriors) lived and fought their neighbors, the Bantu. The distance to the cave entrance from the park headquaters is 3 km and it takes about 4 hours to walk there. Your guide will show you how the Batwa lived and fought out of the cave. The cave is 342m in length, 14m deep and is now inhabited only by bats.
Both from Mount Gahinga Lodge