Plan Your Trip
The dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes were home to the Batwa people: hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine thanks to ancient knowledge passed down for generations.
When Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established, the Batwa, a group of indigenous people, were suddenly evicted from the forest and forced to abandon their low-impact, nomadic lifestyle. Now landless, they work for local farmers. The only time they are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on the Batwa Trail. A visit to the Batwa trail permits visitors to discover the magic of the indigenous people old home while partaking in nature walks and learning about the group’s cultural heritage.
During this moving cultural encounter tour, the Batwa demonstrate hunting techniques; gather honey; point out medicinal plants and demonstrate bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King, where the women of the community perform a sorrowful song which echoes eerily around the depths of the dark cave, and leaves guests with a striking and moving sense of the richness of this fading culture. This is truly a unique experience for visitors to learn about the traditional culture of the indigenous people.
- Switch off your flashlight in the Ngarama Cave, as ghostly singing begins to echo in the pitch darkness.
- Making fire requires team work! Watch your Batwa guides create fire to smoke out bees.
- See a traditional Batwa grass hut – quick to build and to demolish which was essential for this nomadic culture
- Enjoy the lively dance at the cave´s entrance as the Batwa women sing a traditional song to welcome their guests
- Walk through the pristine Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes
Guided tour and performances
$80 US per person (includes UWA park entry fee)
Reservations for The Batwa Trail:
Book In Person at Uganda Wildlife Authority Offices:
- UWA Headquarters, Polt 7, Kira Road, Kamwokoya, Kampala
- UWA Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Office, Kisoro
Phone: +256-414-355000, or +256-312-355000
Full day tour (NOTE: this tour involves hiking at an altitude of aproximately 2,500 meters for at least 4 to 5 hours)
Half day tour
What to Bring
- Packed lunch and plenty of drinking water
- Good hiking shoes or boots, sun screen and a hat
- The weather varies greatly at this altitude – we recommend bringing layers, including a waterproof jacket
- Tips for the guides and performers
- Most Batwa are unable to earn money to provide for their families, as they have no land of their own. This tour is part of the give back program since part of the tour fee goes directly to the guides and performers, while the rest goes toward the community fund to cover school fees and books, and assist in the purchase of new land for the Batwa.
- The tour encourages the practice of traditional skills such as sourcing medicinal plants, making bamboo cups and using bows and arrows – skills which are being lost as the Batwa integrate with the surrounding communities
- The income provides an alternative to illegal poaching in the park