Meet the Batwa of Echuya Forest

Echuya Batwa, commonly known as pygmies, is an endangered group of people around Echuya Forest Reserve in Kisoro and Kabale Districts of South-Western Uganda. The Echuya is located in the Albertine Rift region recognized as an important eco-region. The Batwa are believed to have migrated from the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of wild animals to hunt, hence the name Kisoro, literally meaning “the area occupied by wild animals”. The Batwa live in small huts mainly made from sticks and grass. After your amazing gorilla safari in Bwindi Forest, you can take an excursion to the Batwa Community of Echuya.

“Originally, Batwa were forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers based in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and are widely accepted as the original inhabitants of the region.  As their traditional forest lands and territories fell under the control of agro-industries and conservation agencies, the Batwa became squatters living on the edges of society. The establishment of the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks for Mountain Gorillas in 1991 enabled the authorities to evict the Batwa definitely from the forest.

Echuya Forest Reserve

Echuya Forest Reserve is located in the most densely populated area where, the average land holding per household is 0.8 ha and population density is 353.9 persons per km2.  Other than Batwa, the forest is surrounded by Bakiga, Hutu and Tutsi who comprise a bigger percentage of the population. Bakiga are commonly referred to by Batwa as Bairu. Batwa comprise about 5% of the population. Their households are scattered in various settlements in villages located adjacent to the forest. They include: Murubindi, Kashasha; Gitebe-Kanaba, Biizi-Rugeshi–Murora, Mukasaayi that comprises two settlements, Karengyere-Rwamahano and Kinyarushengye.

Before the declaration of the Echuya as a central government forest reserve, the forest was heavily encroached upon. Up to now, some activities such as wild hunting, collection of honey, mushrooms, water, bamboo for basket making, building poles, making of bee hives and fire wood are being carried out by both Batwa and non-Batwa dominant ethnic communities. Batwa, illegally hunt in the forest due to lack of alternative sources of proteins. The forest is also of cultural importance to the Batwa, who offer religious sacrifices to their gods.

The Batwa can be found in other places in Uganda like, Semliki National park, Mgahinga national park and Bwindi National park. Once visited they Demonstrate their culture, how they used to stay in the forests, how they used to start fire, the Hunting techniques, their songs and Dance. Some of them are not mixed blood due to intermarriages with other cultures.

Experience Amazing Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park

Nature Adventure Uganda is one of the best travel companies that unleash your dream life offering the best private car rental in Uganda services to travelers willing to take private trips in Uganda. No wonder the Murchison Falls are one of the main attractions in Uganda where we have great experience. And, as such, we would expect a good number of visitors enjoying them. Bird life is superb: a flock of African Skimmers here – always awestruck, Red throated Bee eaters there, African Fish Eagles and Yellow Billed Storks everywhere.

Hippos are also in great abundance, Elephants, buffaloes, Bush buck, Jackson’s Harte beest and warthogs are peacefully roaming the shore. When it is hotter and drier (from December to March) you see greater numbers of animals coming to the river to drink. As you reach the falls, you notice a lot of huge crocodiles amongst the largest ever seen amassed together. The place is called “Croc Bar” and is very aptly named: in fact, all those monster crocs are happily waiting for the big Nile Perch coming down from the falls, either dead, or injured, or traumatized or groggy. And it is a big feast for the reptiles: Nile Perch can weigh up to 100 kg and provide an endless source of food.

At Murchison Falls National Park game drives which normally last the best part of a day on the northern side of the Victoria Nile, mostly in an area generally known as “the Delta” or “Buligi”, as well as along the Albert Nile. Once crossed the Victoria Nile on a ferry at Paraa, and left behind a narrow bend of Riverine forest, you find yourself climbing up a series of rolling hills, interspersed with valleys traversed by a few ephemeral, seasonal streams.

In the fresh air of the early morning, the scenery was just magnificent and quite reminiscent of certain parts of the Masai Mara, but with totally different trees (most notably, impressive Borassus palms). Animals start to appear everywhere, in spite of the longish grass: a group of Defassa Water buck by a sandy watercourse, elephants browsing by the road, hundreds of Jackson’s Hartebeest going peacefully about their daily routine, big herds of buffaloes down in the valley, journeys of Rothschild Giraffes walking up the hills, or standing on the ridges, providing a fascinating skyline.

Proceeding westwards, in the direction of Delta Point and the Albert Nile, the scenery changed subtly: no more hills, but short grass plains with patches of light woodland, gently are descending towards the northern tip of Lake Albert and the big river. Thousands and thousands of graceful Uganda Kobs grazing, resting, staring at us, with the backdrop of the Albert Nile and the western wall of the Albertine Rift, whilst the Blue Mountains of the Congo are visible to the south. It is stunning and peaceful at the same time, and you could have contemplated the view for ages.

Gorilla Eco Tours in Rwanda & Uganda

Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism. Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavor by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention.

This involves saving the remaining population of gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda. Eco tours in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania deals with living parts of the natural environments. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.

Eco-tourism is defined as responsible travel, which includes taking steps to conserve the environment and improve the lives of the local people. By providing financial benefits and social empowerment to the local people, tourists can be sure that they are doing everything in their power to benefit the environment and the people of the country they are visiting, instead of simply using their resources while Mass tourism refers to an overwhelming amount of people travelling to one extremely popular tourist destination.

Ecotourism aims at balancing economic development of tourism, and conservation as well as protecting the natural resources is central to it, while mass tourism is like a juggernaut that pays scant heed to any lofty ideals and is instead hell bent on churning profits and thus pays little attention to sustainable development.

Ecotourism is more nature based, low impact as well as small scale, promotes conservation, supports local communities, helps maintain natural and cultural integrity, and makes use of environmentally friendly methods as also technologies while mass tourism is normally associated with high volumes, large scale, fast pace as well as hedonism making Eco – tourism being better.

An  ecotourism  journey  is  a package tour in the  respect of   fauna   and   flora   and  whose  direct  effects  on  the local  population   aren’t harmful but beneficial in-stead.    It’s    a sustainable form of tourism that minimizes the   impact   on the natural environment   to   preserve   it, and that involves local people   and   tourists   into   actions    to    protect    nature and the reverse is true with mass tourism. Ecotourism is a new way to promote   developing   countries. On the one hand it attracts tourists; on   the other hand it contributes to protect nature, culture and wildlife.

Dain Fossey envisioned that introduction of gorilla tourism as the only way to help save gorillas. With the foreign exchange earned from gorilla safaris, funding conservation projects would be easy to manage. It should be noted that, gorilla tours are a major income earner for the countries where gorillas are located. For example in 2006 – 2013, mountain gorillas found in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo hosted more than a million tourists generating $75m (£44m) and about 90% of the countries’ annual foreign income earning.

In 2005, the Rwanda government introduced an annual profit sharing scheme, where 5% of income earning from gorilla tourism is ploughed back into the disadvantaged local communities surrounding the national parks to help in local project development programs so as to improve their living standards like construction of roads, water and sanitation, health unites and low treatment costs. It should be noted that communities living around national parks are densely populated with high poverty levels and poor sanitation. With such profit sharing schemes, the community develops 100% interest in gorilla conservation, as it’s a benefit to everyone.

Introduction of strict rules which must be observed by all tourists going to visit gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. These rules were set to protect the endangered mountain gorilla species from threats like diseases from human beings like tuberculosis, diarrhea and influenza which a very deadly if they catch gorillas as gorillas have low immunity to human diseases.

Chimpanzee Trekking Vs Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Chimpanzee trekking tour is where a trekker goes to the forest to view the already habituated chimpanzees. The habituated chimpanzees are normally confined in one area and are not aggressive and stubborn. They are friendly. Chimpanzee tracking can take 1-3 hours. Tracking chimpanzees is a very interesting experience. Get you walking shoes on as we move through the bush and jungle to spend one hour with our fascinating relatives, watching them swing through the trees across the ground in front of us. The chances of seeing the chimps are more than 95% in Kibale Forest which makes it the best place in East Africa to track chimps.

We also have Chimpanzee Habituation Experience which entails you getting the chimpanzees used to the presence of human to remove the fear of humans from the group, a process that takes up to two years and today you are part of that process by your all day presence in the forests of Budongo and Kibale forest .Years ago, it used to be that you had a 20% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the wild, today because of the habituation process that has increased to over 90%. . It’s a unique, all-day trek and there’s no telling where the chimpanzees will lead you. Their movements are unpredictable whether it’s uphill, downhill or on even ground, you follow the agile group, sometimes at challenging speeds through dense vegetation, for rare, up-close encounters.

Gorilla Encounters organize gorilla, chimpanzee trek and habituation safaris, in Rwanda and Uganda, if you are interested you can book with us.

The full day chimpanzee habituation experience (CHEX) works with a chimp community which is undergoing habituation. Early visitor can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00- 6:30am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7pm and you head back to your lodging for the evening.

Chimpanzee habituation permits cost US$220 per person per experience, for foreign non-residents cost USD 150, foreign residents USD 7O for East Africans and in this cost; one is entitled to full day chimpanzee habituation experience guided by researchers, park entry fees and UWA guides. Chimpanzee habituation permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority.  Chimpanzees’ tracking permit costs USD 150 per person per experience and is entitled only one hour.

Just like gorilla permits, chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation permits should be booked in advance. I advised to book at least 3 months in advance, which will help you to arrange your safari once permits are guaranteed.

Chimpanzee tracking is done all year round but chimpanzee habituation experience is best in the months of March, April, May and November, when there is less tourist congestion. In a small group a ranger plus a maximum of four people, you get much closer to the chimps than during chimp tracking in large groups.

Experience Nature & Wildlife in Uganda

Among the few places in this world where nature and wildlife counts most, Uganda in Africa is one of them blessed with unique wildlife encounters that draw hundreds of visitors each year to the country for Uganda holidays. Within a day, you can experience mountain climbing, hiking, ancient rain forest exposure, stunning views, several islands, water sports, wildlife viewing and mountain gorilla trekking found in only Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

There is no better way to experience nature and wildlife than going on a fantastic Uganda tour holiday to meet mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, wildlife and landscape. Gorilla trekking is one of the best way to truly explore Uganda from its natural rain forests that stretch as fur as Rwanda border and Congo as the eyes can see to the beautiful relaxing islands of Lake Bunyonyi and wildlife paradise of Queen Elizabeth famous for tree climbing lions in Ishasha wilderness. Trekking gorillas allows you to get back to nature and enjoy the natural harmony of Uganda wilderness.

1. Gorilla Trekking
There ‘s a multitude of gorilla trekking holidays on offer in Uganda and tourists trek mountain gorillas either in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Golden monkey lovers, volcanoes hikers and mountain gorilla fans to Uganda, Mgahinga National Park is a complete park with all the incredible beautiful natural attractions including the three extinct volcanoes and three swamps. It’s the smallest among all Uganda national parks in just 540 from Kampala Uganda’s capital city. Its name “Gahinga” means the volcanic stones cleared from farm lands at the foot of the volcanoes. However, the two Uganda mountain gorilla parks are internationally recognized and are I deal for not only gorilla trekking tours but also reliable for culture friendly tourism of the Batwa people, conservation, nature walks ,waterfall hikes, bird watching, and many more. The most done Uganda gorilla trekking tours are, the 2 day gorilla tour from Kigali,3-day gorilla trek,4 day gorilla and volcano hike safari, 5 days gorillas, golden monkey and wildlife safari etc.

2.Launch Cruise and Game Drive
Exploring Uganda on a launch cruise tour and game drive excursions is another magical way to feel and enjoy the dramatic landscape, wildlife and fresh winds under the skies of the most beautiful country in Africa. Most Uganda safaris to wildlife parks, a wide open space of savanna plains, lakes and landscape inspire a true feeling of the day from morning to sunset. Besides heading out on a launch cruise and game viewing tours can sock you into nature a point where natural beauty exceeds your imagination. The most impressive launch cruise is that of the Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth national park that draw hippos, crocodiles, wildlife, birds close to humans. This can occupy your entire afternoon admiring nature and its beauty. The other is in Murchison falls national park where the falls sound is enough for you to love and admire everything you come across. Fresh cold cool winds blow up making you cherish nature even more.Excitement comes again during the morning and evening game drive as you spot your favorite, take the photo and later take a close look beyond fetching incredible views of plains and grasslands. This is the timeyou wish to have found a home to stay close to these beautiful natural wonders in Africa. The two tour adventures are more relaxing and they offer a perfect pace of exploring the natural wonders of Uganda.

3. Lake Bunyonyi Island
A leisure trip to Lake Bunyonyi islands is one of the finest for nature lovers in company of numerous islands and hills. The beautiful lake is a home to 29 islands and can be explored by both modern boats and traditional canoes. It’s the next thought of stop by most tourists to Bwindi forest and Mgahinga national park on gorilla trekking tours. Nature is all you find here in abundance with comfortable cool winds for couples on honey moon, anniversary and weekend gate ways. For recreational lovers, the lake offers excellent variety of boat rides including that to the Batwa Island. Whoever visits the island gets a mixture experience of both nature and culture. Find this beautiful lake in just 15 minutes drive distance from Kabale town. Get an opportunity to ride in the beautiful hills of kabale homesteads, and farmlands. At times tourists swim in the lake since its Bilharzia free and it’s another activity to make you enjoy your stay even more. For Birders, this is a home to many countless bird species that you can witness throughout your stay.