Bwindi impenetrable national park is a habitat to a variety of flora and fauna, it hosts half of the world’s population of the critically endangered species of mountain gorillas, it was home to the Batwa, a group of the last short structured people in Uganda known as pygmies. The Batwa were the original forest keepers and lived in harmony together with the forest creatures. They survived by hunting small game, gathering fruits and were knowledgeable of plant used for medicinal purposes, they are one of the oldest surviving African tribe however their language and culture is on a big threat.
The Batwa called Bwindi home for a number of years, not until 1991 when the national park was declared a conservation area and a UNESCO world heritage site by 1994 as a way to protect the endangered mountain gorilla, gorilla belingei, they were evicted from the national park and rendered homeless, the Batwa were nomads and according to Ugandan history and law, nomads keep moving from one place to another so the government had no obligation of compensating the community with new land to settle, however, over time the government has promised to find land and settle them it may take a longer time because it is quite slow.
The Batwa cultural experience was created by the displaced pygmies as a way of educating their children, passing unto generations and sharing their heritage together with traditions to the whole world. The Batwa size is quite different from the neighbouring tribe’s men in Uganda, the men and women are on an average of four feet or less in height, they have strong social relationships and recognize themselves as a community. A day spent with these people gives you a chance to hike the forest with people who know and understand the forest. You will see the forest through their eyes, you will visit the Batwa community homesteads, learn their traditional foods, here about the traditional legends and songs.
The experience takes place outside the park, they show how they lived in the forest, made huts out of grass, and tree branches, caves, and learn the things that they actually cared for, it is very interactive learning of a different culture, the Batwa in the current dates are scattered and living in the districts of Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu, Bundibugyo to mention a few.
Besides the Batwa cultural experience, Bwindi impenetrable national park attracts many tourist numbers for gorilla tracking that takes place once a day, tracking different gorilla families is done in groups of eight limited to one hour, for more time allocation, one can opt for the gorilla habituation process, birding, mountain biking are also popular activities to do.
The park can be accessed all year round, however, it is best in the dry months of December to February and June to mid-September when the rains are favourable, it’s advisable to wear warm clothes for the park lies at a very high altitude of 1190m- 2607m above sea level, it gets really cold, the Batwa cultural experience can be done alongside gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
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