Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga National Park is a must-do experience for anybody going on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The Twa, as they are frequently referred to, are a forest-dwelling minority ethnic group found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the oldest residents in these locations. The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda was one of the Batwa people’s residences until early 1991, when it was gazetted to preserve gorillas and golden monkeys.
Former hunter gatherers struggled to transition to life outside of the forest since they were completely unaware of and uneducated of contemporary ways of life. However, as part of their rehabilitation and cultural conservation in harmony with tourism, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Dutch Embassy, established the now popular Batwa trail, through which the Twa are kept in touch with their roots by sharing their rich culture and history with tourists at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
The path, which is a journey into the heart of the forest guided by Batwa guides, allows visitors to see the forest through the eyes of its earliest inhabitants. The journey begins with a prayer to Biheeko, the Batwa forest deity who is believed to protect the people, especially before any hunting excursions. Throughout the route, the guides point out many medicinal plants and their use, as well as show hunting, honey collecting, and other food gathering methods. They also demonstrate how they used to make fire by rubbing two dry sticks together, how to make bamboo cups, and other fascinating bits of mythology of the ancient Twa culture.
The Batwa path culminates with a visit to the subterranean Garamba cave beneath Mt. Mgahinga. This was the residence of the Batwa monarch. Among other things, the palace has royal courts, administrative courts, a granary, and an armoury. Typically, the walk concludes with storytelling and traditional song and dance performances by Batwa women. Some of the revenues from the Batwa path are used to assist development initiatives for the Batwa people, such as education and healthcare as they transition to modern life, while the remainder is used to compensate the Twa guides who lead these excursions, which are a bittersweet experience for them. The Batwa path may be included to your Uganda safari itinerary.
Other Activities Offered in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
The main activity available at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is gorilla trekking. It entails tourists travelling to deep tropical rainforests in search of habituated gorilla families and spending one hour with them in their natural environment once located. The trek to see the mountain gorillas in the park begins in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters in Ntebeko. The briefing is conducted by the park guide, who will tell you of the rules, regulations, and expectations for the walk. Following the briefing, you will be divided into groups of eight and assigned to a gorilla group to travel with.
Golden Monkey Trekking
Mgahinga gorilla national park is Uganda’s sole location that is home to golden monkeys, making it distinct from the country’s other national parks. Golden monkey trekking is the park’s second most popular activity, and it begins with a briefing at the park headquarters, following which you will be divided into groups of six to trek each habituated golden monkey family. The golden monkey trek requires visitors to be physically active since you will be hiking on steep hills for 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on the location of the monkeys because they prefer to wander from one area to another in search of food.
Once the golden monkeys have been located, you will be permitted to spend one hour with them in their natural environment, where you will be able to observe them playing in the trees, eating on stems and buds, learning about their activities, taking photographs and recording films.
Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda is home to about 180 bird species, including forest birds, migratory birds, and approximately 12 unique to the Albertine rift. Birding in Mgahinga is done during the nature walk where you follow various trails and look out for bird species such as Kivu ground thrush, blue headed coucal, African olive pigeon, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori Turaco, olive woodpecker, double collared sunbird, speckled mouse bird, black kite, grey capped warbler, dusky crimson wing, Rwenzori nightjar, among others.
Other activities offered in the national park include; guided nature walks and mountain climbing.
Where to stay during your visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Visitors vacationing in Mgahinga gorilla national park can choose from a variety of lodging options. These include premium, medium, and economical options. Mount Gahinga Lodge, Mucha Lodge, Lake Chahafi Resort, Travellers Rest Hotel, Musanze Caves Hotel, Muhabura Motel, Mgahinga Rest Camp, Virunga Hotel, Mgahinga Community Camp, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Heritage Guest House, and Nkuringo Safari Lodge are just a few of the lodges in the park.
Getting to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is around 15 kilometres south of Kisoro and 55 kilometres west of Kabale district. Visitors can easily go to the park from Kampala, which is 494 kilometres away through the Kabale-Mbarara route. Visitors departing from Kampala will need to drive for around 812 hours to reach the national park.
The national park is also accessible from Kigali, Rwanda, via the Cyanika border near Kisoro. Traveling by car from Kigali to the park will take around 3-4 hours and approximately 112 hours from Volcanoes National Park there thrill Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.