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Batwa culture is one of the most ancient and endangered in the entire world, for thousands of years they have survived in the forest and have a vast store of cultural knowledge relating to this.
Historically, The Batwa pygmies would have had an in depth knowledge of forest plants, especially for medicinal purposes, they could track bees to find their hives and collect honey and had a whole range of techniques used to survive. Traditionally this knowledge would have been passed on orally through dancing and storytelling, but now much of this knowledge is no longer relevant to their lives and sadly, despite the Batwa retaining their love of stories and dance, is being lost in modern communities.
Because of this, local Batwa community leaders have worked closely with the VSPT to develop a product, unique to VS clients, where guests can learn about and interact with the Batwa. The project has two aims: firstly to provide an opportunity for the Batwa to teach people about their unique culture; and secondly to help preserve the traditional cultural values of this unique region. Ideally, it will act as in interface where the older community members can engage with the younger members and pass down to them the traditions that would otherwise be lost.
The Batwa experience involves a bow and arrow, hunting, traditional religion and a fascinating insight into their traditional medicine. The aim is for interactivity and visitors are encouraged to actively get involved in the performance. The feedback has been excellent!
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.