The Batwa People were the local inhabitants of the Virunga forests that are now gazetted national parks protecting the mountain gorillas. These people used to live in the northern section of the area. During the creation of these parks, the Batwa were forcefully evicted out of the forest. Today the Batwa now live on the edge of the forest, under not very favorable living conditions. They are not allowed to indulge in traditional hunting and cannot enter the parks.
During your visit to the Virunga, you can visit the local communities and share with these people. From Mgahinga National Park, you can take the Batwa Experience, a tour that focuses on the culture of these people.
Most Batwa are unable to earn money to provide for their families, as they have no land of their own. This tour is part of the give back program since part of the tour fee goes directly to the guides and performers, while the rest goes toward the community fund to cover school fees and books, and assist in the purchase of new land for the Batwa.
The tour encourages the practice of traditional skills such as sourcing medicinal plants, making bamboo cups and using bows and arrows – skills which are being lost as the Batwa integrate with the surrounding communities.
The income provides an alternative to illegal poaching in the park.