Uganda Wildlife Authority launches the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience – Uganda Safari News
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a popular Uganda safaris destination for Uganda gorilla trekking safaris. In this dense Afro Montane forest have lived the Batwa pygmies who have resided here for centuries till early 1990’s until they were designated to live in the periphery of the forest. The Batwa experience has been known though the trail has been mainly enjoyed by tourists who have visited Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with a first-hand experience of their lifestyle on the Batwa trail. Uganda gorilla safari tourists to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda, home to almost half of the worlds’ remaining mountain gorillas, have been missing out on this experience. The good news is that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) recently launched the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience.
The Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience was launched on the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Rubuguri Town Council, Kisoro district by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof Ephraim Kamuntu. During the launch, he was noted to have stated that
“I would like to encourage Ugandans, to find innovative ways and means to continue tapping into the many tourism opportunities as the potential of the tourism sector is yet to be fully exploited,”
On top of that, he also said that culture is an important aspect of people’s lives and it should be harnessed for development especially through cultural tourism which he said not only serve to generate money from tourists but also plays a key role in the preservation of culture and heritage.
“Our rich cultural heritage is our greater asset, we should therefore protect it and harness it for our survival through tourism and. I am extremely pleased that we are now here today, to put only a small portion of our rich culture to the tourism market for the benefit of the Batwa people and this great nation,” Prof Ephraim Kamuntu said.
How the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience is going to be carried out
The Batwa Forest Experience was jointly developed in 2013 by UWA together with Nkuringo Cultural Centre and the Batwa community in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as a tourism product with a major aim of utilizing the Batwa rich culture for conservation and improvement of the livelihoods of the Batwa people.
The product has been developed to reflect a high level of authenticity depicting with accuracy, the exact culture of the Batwa. It was mapped and geo-referenced through the beautiful forest of the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Along the trails, are demonstrations of various aspects of the Batwa culture.
Up to 66 Batwa individuals have been trained in adult literacy, responsible guiding, music dance and drama, social cultural values, enterprise development and financial management.
The trail has been developed with support from Mbarara University of Science and technology and other partners.
Who benefits from the New Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience?
When a Uganda safari activity like this one is put up in a specific sector, many people could wonder who then benefits from the activity. The new Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience will benefit the tourism industry, tourists and more especially the Batwa pygmies themselves.
“I am very glad, that the proceeds from the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience will target mainly the Batwa. This is another indicator that the government of Uganda has never, and will never neglect the Batwa people as quite often wrongfully accused. There is a great will by Government to continue improving the conditions of all Ugandans,” Prof Ephraim Kamuntu said.
UWA executive director Sam Mwandha said, as part of UWA’s continued support towards the promotion of the product, UWA will overlook park entry fees for tourists who purchase Uganda gorilla trekking safari permits and want to undertake the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience on the day before or after their gorilla trek. This means a Uganda gorilla trekking tour to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also gives tourists chance to enjoy the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience without paying entry fees for the activity whether on the same day or the next day after the trek.
“We recognize that communities have to benefit from the parks and therefore we continue to come up with strategies of ensuring that they benefit. The proceeds from the Bwindi Batwa Forest Experience will mainly target the Batwa community in order to uplift their wellbeing and alleviate poverty,”Mwanda said.
Note: The Batwa experience that has been always carried out at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was a cultural experience where by the Batwa demonstrated how they lived in the forest to the tourists outside the forest. The new Bwindi Batwa trail however, is a real first hand experience through the forest as the former inhabitants of the forest take you through their lifestyle within the forest
Gorilla trekking is the top Uganda tour, tour Uganda or safari in Uganda activity because of the liveliness of the activity. Though without the Batwa experience, the other way of seeing the gentle giants in their natural habitat is by undertaking a Rwanda gorilla safari, gorilla safari Rwanda or a Congo gorilla trekking safari to either Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park respectively.