Cultural Encounters in Bwindi
Buhoma Community Tours / Mukono Development Association
Overlooking the imposing hillsides of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, with mist swirling over the summits, Buhoma is a truly dramatic setting for your cultural tour!
The three-hour village walk begins with a visit to the handcraft shop – selling handmade artefacts such as fabrics, beeswax candles and wood carvings, all produced by talented local craftsmen and women. The neighboring Batwa community performs songs and dances about their former life in the forest, introducing you to another unique local culture. You will also meet the traditional healer who treats the sick with medicinal plants, and the teachers and pupils of the local primary school. Finally, you can learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer and gin – and taste the results!
Proceeds from the tour support community development projects such as a secondary school, maize mill and microfinance circle, and the Batwa receive all proceeds from their performances.
Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF)
Set in a lush hillside bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with dramatic views towards Congo, Nkuringo is a wonderful place to visit for those who want both a cultural experience and beautiful scenery.
A visit to Nicholas the blacksmith rewinds time to the Stone Age with the sound of sheepskin bellows spewing air into a charcoal-fired furnace, from which Nicholas hooks out red hot metal and hammers it into tools; from knives to machetes. Sesilia welcomes you into her home – a series of traditional huts housing a millet-grinding stone, cooking pots and apparatus for distilling local waragi banana gin. Pena is the village´s traditional healer who uses native plants to make tea, ointments and herbal powders that cure a range of ailments.
NCCDF supports local artisans and the local Batwa community through its crafts shop. They train orphans who perform at a nearby lodge, and can make arrangements for visitors to sponsor them.
Buniga Forest Nature Walk
Discover the gorgeous hidden treasures of Buniga Forest and its diverse flora and fauna on this trail, led by locals who are expert regional guides.
Buniga Forest Reserve is one of the three remaining pocket forests adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Due to the increased encroachment on the forest and associated loss of biodiversity and other forest resources, the trail was created by Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation (NCCDF) to protect the forest and manage it for ecotourism activities. As well as protecting this precious forest, proceeds from the tour also benefit surrounding communities, and encourage them to actively participate in its conservation.
Nkuringo Cultural Centre (NCC)
Why not learn a new skill during your trip to Uganda? At Nkuringo Cultural Centre, after a long day spent tracking gorillas or bird watching, you can enjoy one of our fascinating cultural evening workshops. Choose from African cooking, traditional weaving, or – for those who are feeling a little more energetic – a dancing and drumming workshop is available.
You can also take one of our guided village walks during the day to meet the residents, learn about life in Rubuguri and participate in a crafts demonstration. You will then visit the primary school to watch this region´s most famous cultural attraction – the dynamic Kiga dance. The best dancers are said to be those who make the earth shake!
NCC creates employment opportunities for local residents and a percentage of profits is used for community projects such as IT classes and a stage and costumes for local dance groups.
Nyundo Community Eco-Trails
Nyundo’s residents were firsthand witnesses to climate change. They cultivated crops on the hillsides bordering Bwindi Impenetrable forest, but noticed erosion, changing rain patterns and the disappearance of the characteristic mist. Ultimately, their crops began to fail. The community decided to protect the land and allow the forest to grow back, and now the trees, the rains and the mist have all returned.
Nyundo Community Eco Trails were developed by community members as a sustainable alternative to agriculture, poaching and logging; providing both an income and an incentive to conserve the forest.
On King Bakyara’s Waterfall Trail, enjoy spectacular scenery surrounding a waterfall where only kings may bathe! Visit a blacksmith, a local banana beer distillery, a beekeeper, a cattle farm and a banana plantation.
During the Traditional Skills Trail, learn about millet-bread preparation, yoghurt making and craft making. Visit a traditional birth attendant and traditional homesteads, and meet the friendly villagers.
Conservation through Public Health (CTPH)
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) is a grassroots organization that has improved the health of wildlife, livestock and some of the poorest people in Africa. In Buhoma, visitors can take a tour of the Gorilla Health Centre to learn about their health and how diseases are transmitted between wild animals and livestock, as well as other conservation issues addressed by CTPH.
Tour the Village Aquaponics project where you will learn about sustainable methods of farming fish, which is then sold to local lodges. If booked in advance, CTPH staff can also offer presentations on conservation issues in Bwindi and guided tours of local communities to demonstrate how improving the health and livelihoods of people and their livestock supports the conservation of gorillas.
Lodging is available at the Gorilla Conservation Camp; all fees support the work of CTPH. There are also volunteer opportunities and working holidays which contribute directly to all these activities.
Rubuguri Village Walk (NCC)
Reached by rustic roads clinging to steep hillsides, this small community makes up for its isolation with the warm welcome of its inhabitants. The Village Walk takes you past a swamp to a small homestead, where you will have the chance to meet the residents and learn about life in Rubuguri, as well as participate in a crafts demonstration.
You will then visit the lively St Peter´s Primary school to meet the pupils and teachers, and to watch this region´s most famous cultural attraction – the dynamic Kiga dance. The best dancers are said to be those who make the earth shake – and as the barefooted students leap several feet into the air to the rhythm of joyful songs you will be able to decide for yourself if they achieve their goal!
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