Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of Uganda’s popular touristic destinations to visit located in the South Western part of Uganda. Batwa people are typical residents although there are just staying around the boundaries of the park, before gazetting this park these Batwa people were using the all this land for shelter.
Later, the government and other conservation forum when identified mountain gorillas in the park embraced the gorilla tourism experiences to tourists coming to Africa. When the park was establishment, they were organized and settled near the park boundaries and today their cultural experience is packaged as a tourist product and while on your gorilla tours in this park you can combine both the experiences.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is characterized with thick tropical rain forest, Savannah grasslands, bamboo forests where Golden Monkeys are typical residents, plus swampy areas.
This park is popularly known for the shy endangered Mountain Gorillas in the mist although it’s only the convenient place in Uganda where the exciting Batwa Cultural experience is done.
This park is located very deep in the south western Uganda on the borders with Rwanda nearing Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic of Congo, traveling from Kampala you can better reach this park by use of Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara highway using stable 4×4 wheel drive safari jeep with en-route stop over at the equator for some briefing about the geography behind, photographs and snacks then continue with the journey up to the park, lunch is provided en-route.
It’s about 482 kms from Kampala up to the park proximate to be about 8-9 hours’ drive, another route to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is even shorter and time friendly is when you land in Rwanda at Kigali airport, transfer from there and cross borders via Cyanika or Katuna border up to the nearby Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, it’s about 3 – 4 hours’ drive from Rwanda up to the park.
Are you a lover to culture willing to visit Uganda, doing a Batwa cultural experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a great achievement for you? These Batwa people were great hunters and gatherers who migrated from the ituri forest reserve of Democratic Republic of Congo in search of wild animals to feed on since they mostly fed on bush meat, these people used forests as their shelter sleeping in the branches of big tree species and caves, they used tree leaves as their medicine for curing their diseases plus using back cloth as their wearing gears.
After their migration from Democratic Republic of Congo part of them settled in Rwanda near Volcanoes National Park and others in the group settled in the Western wing of Uganda and their presence led to severe ceasing of most wild animals which later brought to the responsible Authorities’ attention and they decided to gazette all these habitats for these animals as national parks and forced these hunters to vacate the suburbs.
This forced vacation made them feel discriminated and ignored by the government of Uganda but later they got used to the situation and are now transforming from being local hunters and forest dwellers to normal civilized human beings and also doing away with putting on back cloth as their wearing gears.
These people later started a cultural project which involves cultural performances; cultural tools training and more under their organization and this really attracts more visitors at affordable prices.
This Batwa Cultural experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park involves visiting these transformed Batwa people in their local communities and associate with them, this really has made them feel comfortable in the society forgetting all the disappointments developed when they were ordered to vacate the land occupied by the national park.
Reaching these people in their society you will be welcomed by their enticing cultural performances which include dancing and singing plus playing different musical instruments like drums, associating with these people you will have a village walk with a guide visiting different elders in the community plus training on how to use their different cultural tools like spears, bow and arrow, stone age tools which they used in production of fire, food like millet flour and more plus being fed with more information and history about the Batwa.
This experience is usually done in a full day while with these people and it costs $80 USD per person, this money is paid to the organization governing these people and part is given to the performers and the rest is reserved for providing support to people in the communities through providing education needs to the young kids, and local elders in the society who are helpless.