UWA Launches Batwa Forest Experience in Bwindi

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Batwa are one of the indigenous tribes in Uganda. Their existence in the pearl of Africa dates three centuries back. However, these people have remained rudimentary for all their lives inspite of the rapid civilization and technology roaming around the world. It is the most marginalized group of people in Uganda henceforth they live in absolute poverty, live a wild life and they are the shortest in stature.

The Batwa live in the Kigezi highlands southwest of Uganda, an area home to the famous Bwindi forest impenetrable forest and the Virunga massif.

The Batwa life has been a tourist attraction to many visitors of Uganda since they find it unique and interesting to encounter.

The Batwa village walk has been a complementary tourism activity in Mgahinga Gorilla Park after gorilla trekking experience. But the visitors to Bwindi impenetrable national park- a home to almost half of the world population of mountain gorillas have not been experiencing the Batwa forest walk. Now Uganda wildlife authority has launched the Batwa forest experience of Bwindi impenetrable national park in Rubuguri town council, Kisoro district by the minister of tourism and wildlife antiquities professor Ephraim Kamuntu.

The minister said, “Ugandans should be encouraged to look for new ways to take up the various tourism opportunities since the tourism sector is young and has so much potential to be exploited”.

He further stated that for instance the culture is one of tools people use for development through cultural tourism. The tourists are intrigued by the social Africa traditional life so the people should preserve the culture and heritage and get some money from the tourists who get attracted to it.

The tourism industry in Uganda is one of the vehicle of the economy since it has a big share of generating foreign exchange of around $ 1.5 billion and also has uplifted the livelihood of the local community thus bringing sustainable development.

The launch was graced by very many stakeholders in the tourism industry and a few of them had something to say about the project.

UWA executive director Sam Mwandha said, as part of UWA’s continued support towards the promotion of the product, UWA will waive park entry fees for tourists who purchase gorilla trekking permits and want to undertake the Batwa Forest Experience on the day before or after their gorilla 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.

The Batwa forest walk experience in the Bwindi community will be among the very many community based tourism activities for the people of Uganda. These initiatives have been very successful since many people have got employed and also the social infrastructures like health centers, roads, schools and water supplies have been established in the communities.

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 utilising 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.