Gorilla Walking Safaris

Mountain Gorillas And Batwa Experience In Uganda – Why This Is A Life Changing & Meaningful Journey

The Co-existance of mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Forest and the indigenous people of Bwindi runs back many centuries and so has it been mantained todate. The difference is that the two nolonger share the same home in Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park or Mgahinga national Park, for the indigenous people have found refuge outside the park and stayed as communities. This was a deliberate move by the authorities when the National Parks were gazeted into UNESCO sites and a move to protect the remaining number of Mountain Gorillas.

The short Batwa people also called the Godfathers of the forest are the indigenous tribe that shared the Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga forest much as the risk and extinction of the great apes was high. Considering that Gorillas are humans closest relatives, Disease transmission is so easy and would see endangered Mountain Gorillas wiped out. This is one of the prime reasons why the Batwa people were taken out of the Forest and relocated to nearby communities as a conservation measure in protecting the Remaining Mountain Gorillas by making the forest a safe haven for the Gorillas.

Trekking Mountain Gorillas.

Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National parks is a lifetime experience that can be done as a stand alone only experience or combined with other destinations in Uganda in East Africa much more for wildlife safaris, Beach Holidays, Chimpanzee trekking, Mountain Hikes and much more.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Starts early in the morning with a briefing by the park rangers on the Do’s and Don’ts during Trekking. Normally a favorable family would be allocated to you, joined by other guests while the number of trekkers is limited to 8 and once a day for conservation reasons before you ascend into the Forest for the trekking experience. With Two-armed ranger guides to escort you into the thick forest. The Guns are for protecting guests against stray forest elephants in the forest and guiding you into the forest. The Trekking sometimes involves crossing river streams, Trekking through Thick bushes – Of course the rangers will clear the bushes for you, ascending and descending forested hills until you find the Mountain Gorilla family.

Upon finding the mountain Gorillas, you will be allowed 1 hour with the mountain Gorillas for the gorilla trekking experience and 4 hours for the Gorilla habituation experience. An Informative guide will take you through and explaining about the gentle apes. Pictures are allowed at all times.

Tip: It is important to switch off your flash camera before reaching the gorillas as they are always irritated by the flash lights and may sometimes become aggressive upon flashing lights. Very bright Clothes are also NOT advised as mountain Gorillas sometimes become curious (especially the juveniles) and would come more closer to you.

During the one-on-one mountain Gorilla encounter experience, You would realize there is no mistaking the bond that exists between human and the mountain Gorilla. The trekking to the mountain Gorillas (for some) might seem like a road to hell but is an assured road to paradise when you finally find the mountain Gorillas. The same track trail will lead you back to the starting point, Certificates as souvenirs are given for your wonderful experience and spend rest of the day relaxed at the lodge reminiscing and unwinding about the great memories

Related Story: The Two Big Primates In Uganda, Why They Are Worth The Trip And The Money

Gorilla Uganda Trip
A Baby Mountain Gorilla Playing Around the thickets in Bwindi

After The Mountain Gorilla Experience.

For some and for many, relaxing off at some of our well selected beautiful safari lodges is the best option for the after-Mountain Gorilla experience. This gives you time to take in all the experience, scroll and arrange your great pictures over a glass of wine or cold Nile beer. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Some guests would prefer to add another experience to the mountain Gorilla encounter just after the trek considering that you have returned earlier from the Bwindi Forest or Mgahinga National Park. Visiting the Batwa community village would be the best option around the Bwindi Forest or mgahinga national Park as away to connect more the relationship between the Batwa tribe and Mountain Gorillas.  

Spend some time with the communities around and see different kind of lives – Forest Lives Lived before being relocated from the Mountain Gorilla Territories. The Batwa of Bwindi forest have much authentic experiences to offer to the guests, they sing their traditional songs, Dance, they tell stories, they demonstrate their kind of life how they lived in the forest with mountain Gorillas.

A visitor can visit community developments around the park that have been fueled or supported due to the tourism development around the gazzeted areas, Developments like schools, health centres, Craft shops and villages of the local persons around Bwindi forest or Mgahinga national Park in Bwindi. The local tribes are categorized as the Bakiga and bafumbira who also speak the Kiga and Fumbira languages. The Batwa that have lived with the Mountain Gorillas in the Forests speak the “Twa” Language which is a mixture of the Kiga and fumbira languages.

In Bwindi – Buhoma region, there is a community organization called Ride for a woman. The organization exists to support local women struggling at home with issues associated with HIV, domestic violence and poverty. More than 300 women from 11 villages now use or work at the Ride 4 a Woman community center, where they can learn to pedal sew, weave baskets, dance, sing and drum; learning new skills, making a living and making it possible for their children to gain an education.

The organization also offers microfinance, helping women to help themselves and support their families. To date over 100 women are actively engaged in the Ride 4 a Woman Microfinance Program. 

This retreat in the local community offers local women a place to stay, something to eat and a wage while they learn new skills.

Batwa Community In Bwindi
The Batwa after recieving foof relief from Gorilla Walking safaris During Covid times

How and Why is Gorilla Trekking Beneficial to The Batwa Community

You are definitely changing lives when you add Gorilla trekking on your Uganda safari. Gorilla Trekking permit sold by Uganda wildlife Authority costing USD 700 per person, part of the funds go to the community empowerment projects run by some organizations which directly help the well being of the Batwa. These funds help construct schools, health centers, Craft shops and more income generating activities.

At Ride 4 a woman one of the successful communities organizations has helped both the Batwa women and the Kiga community in Bohoma make a living through craftwork sales through activities like pedal sew, Traditional cooking, basket weaving, Kiga Dance, and authentic experiences that many travelers who go Gorilla trekking opt to visit after the great ape experience. Ride 4 a woman is a walking distance from the Buhoma Gorilla headquarters where many visitors assemble in the morning before heading out for Gorilla trekking experience. This can be visited after Gorilla trekking considering that you returned early or can be done before the Gorilla trekking Safari in Bwindi Buhoma Sector. While visiting ride 4 a woman shop and buy yourself souvenirs to take back home these include cushion covers, clothes to hair accessories, computer and iPad cases to purses and African made handbags, all products are to the highest standard giving you lightweight, quality gifts to take home to friends and family. This is beneficial to the income generating for the Woman living around Bwindi-Buhoma areas and the Batwa Community. The Batwa people are also expert basket weavers, innovating and exploring with design and shape every day offering large to small decorative baskets, coasters, table-mats and more. All income from the shop is put straight back in to support the women of Buhoma through the work of Ride 4 a Woman, which offers women of the community new skills and jobs, access to Microcredit, a safe drinking water supply and shelter in time of need.

The Batwa experience in Mgahinga also offers similar activities like in Bwindi National Park, they do music, dance, entering the forest and showing historical archives like the Garamba cave where they will show you how they used to hide in here, hunting skills, harvesting honey, getting fire and  much more. Supporting them with a small fee for this experience helps develop the Batwa in The Mgahinga.

The beautiful Lodge facilities located at the boundaries of the forest are required by law to employ 80% of the workers at a lodge from the community, This is where most of the Batwa and local community people benefit as some of their relatives or spouses make a living from accommodation facilities as waiters, Cleaners, Gardeners, and some are trained to be bar attendants and Top managers in the long run.

The porters that are a helpful manpower in Mountain Gorilla Trekking are a major force during the experience, You might need a push or a pull during the experience to and from the Mountain Gorillas and these young mend and woman are a great help. Normally they come with a service fee of USD 20 per person while an extra tip would be appreciated for work well done. Other than the Community members, some of these porters are the Batwa people earning a living from the Mountain Gorilla visitors frequenting the Bwindi impenetrable Forest national Park and Mgahinga National Park.

The Communities and the Batwa people are good craftmen and women who are good with hand artwork performed when still in the forest living with the Mountain Gorillas. The Communities (Who have also intermarried) do sell out these well-made crafts to visitors who would like souvenirs for their loved ones when they return back home. Its from these handwork-made crafts that the Batwa and the community members earn a living. Your visit to the mountain Gorillas directly leaves an impact and changes lives over time.

Have you heard about the “African Helicopter”? Yes, this is a one Carry-on like stretcher for the persons who would like to Visit Mountain Gorillas but physically not possible. There is an option of a stretcher manned by 15 local persons who will willingly carry you to the Gorillas and back while you sit back and enjoy the “ride in the forest”. This African Helicopter comes at a service price of USD 300 for both ways and an extra tip would also be appreciated by the members who also double as the Batwa and more community members. With this kind of experience, the shared amounts equally benefit each of the participants that participated and brought you closer to the Mountain Gorillas. One more way to add a shilling on the daily life of the African man neighboring the Gorillas.

The decision made to go Mountain Gorilla Trekking is a decision associated with life changing for the Communities staying around the park. From the Gorilla permit to accommodation and much more associated expenses directly or indirectly help the communities including the Batwa in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks. This is basically why a mountain Gorilla and Batwa trip in Uganda is a life changing and meaningful journey as you absolutely and indirectly leave an impact.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Experience Short Video

Here are some proposed Trips that would include Gorilla Trekking with a possibility of adding the Batwa Culture experience.

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