Travel diaries

Batwa Experience

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We bring you a new account of trip to Uganda. After lived in the worst night of our life, in Butogota, the next day we woke up in the middle of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and we dedicate the day to meet the Pygmy Batwa.

It had rained that night. But in our hut we had not only heard the rain, but an entire orchestra of constant and strange nocturnal sounds of wild nature. You could tell we were inside the Bwindi National Park. In spite of everything, we had managed to get some rest. We went up to breakfast at the dining room of the Comunity Rest Camp and from the huge balcony we could see the fog that covered much of the jungle before us. It was a cool morning due to the humidity and the absence of windows.

After breakfast we decided to leave the community camp to discover what was beyond. The small population of Buhoma is scattered on the sides of the track road that leads to the park. Before the entrance of the park there were several shops selling souvenirs with shapes and faces of gorillas. Among them we find the small office of the Batwa Experience and enter to inform us.

The Batwa are a pygmy town that until 1991 lived in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. In that year, the Ugandan government turned the forest into a national park to protect gorillas. It was a good idea but, as it happens too many times, it was not done well. The Batwa, who had lived in the forest hunting and gathering fruits since ancient times, were suddenly expelled from their ancestral home without any compensation or land to live. They were forced to integrate into Ugandan life through forced marches and leave their livelihoods behind. Discriminated by the rest of Ugandans and unable to access the only source of livelihood they knew, their future was uncertain.

In 2001 an American donor, Dr. Scott, bought land in the mountains and gave it to the cause of the Batwa. In addition, he created a foundation that created programs to improve the living conditions of this tribe. The «Batwa Experience» is one of those projects: a way to keep the memory and customs of the Batwa alive both for future generations and to make it known to visitors.

After some thought, we paid $ 70 per person worth the "experience." It was going to last a half day and food was included. Then, Godfrey and Hope accompanied us through the town until we met our guide. Elfas is a Batwa who speaks good English and who during the mountain climb explained several things about the schools, about the expulsion from the forest and what Dr. Scott and his foundation had done to improve their conditions.

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