Batwa Today

Batwa Today next to Echuya Forest Reserve; photo by Miha Logar

If you are interested in a respectful visit to Batwa “Pygmies” of the Lake Bunyonyi area, this activity next to Echuya Forest has been prepared especially for you. It includes a nature walk in Echuya to showcase their extensive herbalist knowledge, however, the emphasis is on the way Batwa live today, and on friendly interaction with them.

Highlights

• Batwa-guided nature walk in Echuya Forest Reserve
• chat with the Batwa “Pygmies” community of Rwamahano
• Bakiga local bar experience
• spectacular Lake Bunyonyi views

Facts

duration: 3 hours; difficulty: medium
area: Rwamahano, Echuya Forest Reserve
departures: daily

NB: Batwa Today does not include costumes and remaking of life in the bush. It is focused on how people live today. No Batwa group in the Gorilla Highlands stay in the forest anymore.

A children’s version of the activity is also available

Price: USD 50 per person (2 people minimum)
Includes everything during the trip: guiding, activities, a cup of coffee/tea at Muko Campsite, a snack at the local bar, a contribution to the Batwa community. It does not include your transport to Echuya Forest.

Itinerary

Road to Muko; photo by Marcus Westberg

This is our suggested Batwa Today program. The timing can be adjusted to your preferences.

9am: Departure from Lake Bunyonyi; our guide can meet you at any Bunyonyi place (or at Muko – see the map). Using the scenic road around Bunyonyi you will make it to the northern part of the lake.

10am: Arrival to Muko Campsite for a cup of coffee. Meeting Batwa “Pygmies” can be a challenging experience for a visitor due to their abject poverty, so our guide will spend some time here preparing you for that and explaining the background story.

Hunting demonstration by Batwa guides; photo by Marcus Westberg

11am: Start of a forest walk in Echuya Forest Reserve, explaining Batwa’s history and present in the forest, the flora and fauna of Echuya. There are two options:
(1) the longer 1.5-2 hour trail that is not demanding and therefore recommended for anyone; it takes you to the place where Batwa used to slaughter the animals they hunted;
(2) the shorter 30-45 minute trail that is meant for visitors who have trouble walking.

Chamaleon in Echuya Forest; photo by Marcus Westberg

The trails are circular and return to the starting point. A big group can be divided into two subgroups and people doing the short trail can wait at the bar, chat with locals and hear some stories.

12:30pm: Local bar moment; the owner will host us in a place full of interesting technologies. A table that keeps bottles from falling down is the local one.

1pm: A walk through the picturesque Rwamahano Batwa settlement, ending with a chat with the community; they expect their visitors to first tell them about themselves and why they came to Rwamahano. The exchange finishes with bows and arrows, dancing and singing.

2pm: Departure from Rwamahano; you can go to a place of your choice for evaluation and debriefing — we would wish to listen to your impressions.

Craft makers in the Batwa community of Rwamahano; photo by Marcus Westberg

More information: miha@gorillahighlands.com or +256 776 558 123