Here’s a little background on the history of the Mount Gahinga Lodge and the Batwa.
The Batwa once were indigenous forest dwellers and they lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures, such as the Mountain Gorillas for millennia in Africa.
The Batwa survived by hunting small game, gathering plants and fruits, living in caves, and constructing huts of leaves and branches.
In the 1990s, Mgahinga forest was gazetted as a national park to promote Gorilla conservation.
However, due to strict environmental laws put forth by the Ugandan Government and Wildlife Authorities, the Batwa were displaced from their ancestral homes and were given no compensation whatsoever.
They became conservation refugees in an unfamiliar, un-forested world. Many of them lost their lives during the early years of exile, and those who continued to exist were marginalized and their cultural heritage was threatened.
Today, some Batwa are squatters on peoples’ lands and do not a have continuous or sustainable revenue and have little education. Often, they are exposed to forced labor, and some earn a living through begging.
Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) strives to empower this minority group and help them to revive their traditions so that their history and culture are better understood by both local communities and by the younger generation of Batwa. The history and culture of the Batwa are as endangered as the wildlife that our guests come to see. Today, the Batwa are proud of their unique cultural heritage and see themselves as possessing skills and power that other surrounding local populations do not have.
In addition to the Batwa activities at the Mount Gahinga Lodge, VSPT runs community and humanitarian initiatives with the local communities of Volcanoes Safaris’ three other lodges, as well. The goal of these programs is to empower the local villagers and communities to learn the skills they need to independently sustain their way of living and to benefit from the tourists of Volcanoes Safaris and the land surrounding the lodges.
Here are the cool VSPT Activities at Volcanoes Lodges
KYAMBURA GORGE Lodge Activities
1. Coffee Processing Station
Activity: demonstrations of the 5 stages of organic coffee processing and opportunity to participate in processing and roast your own coffee.
In total there are 100 acres preservation trust area and 1500 coffee trees!
The tour lasts between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on interests and interactive participation.
2. Omumashaka Drama group
Activity: cultural songs and dances from local drama group which lasts about 30 minutes at the main lodge.
3. There is also the Empundu Playground where you can watch or participate in local football or netball match. This goes for 1-2 hours in the early evening. The Drama group also performs educational plays at the playground for the local community on the last Sunday of each month.
4. Wetland walk and restoration project
Activity: guided walk – ideal for birders
Duration: 1-3 hours depending on level of interest.
Location: 5 min walk from the lodge
Planning: available anytime but early morning and early evening is best for bird watching
• walks along gorge are also available
5. They even have Bee keeping so you can visit the local apiary with bee suites and see demonstrations on bee keeping and honey collection. Learn also about the bee husbandry and use of bees as elephant deterrent.
BWINDI Lodge Activities
1. Bwindi Community Hospital VSPT sponsored W.A.S.H. program. This program enables you to visit the hospital with field team to give demonstrations and information to homesteads and schools on personal hygiene and hand washing tools/methods.
Every location is solar thermal and in some parts solar PV and the coffee beans and even soap made and sold are Well beyond the fair trade rate. There is 138 – 600 women working that are HIV positive and they receive in total 1-2 tons of medicine each year for working.