The dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes were home to the Echuya Batwa trail 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 Batwa people are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides.
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 their 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.
Highlights for Batwa Trail Visit
Switch off your flashlight in the Ngarama Cave, as ghostly singing begins to echo in the pitch darkness Making fire requires teamwork! Watch your guides trying to 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 at home Walk through the pristine Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes