Rwenzori Turaco View Village Walk

Location: Bordering Rwenzori Mountains National Park

The tiny village of Mihunga faces the craggy, snow-capped peaks of Rwenzori Mountains, known as the “Mountains of the Moon”.

The Bakonzo tribe have lived here for over 300 years, and have adapted their way of life to the dramatic climate and steep green hillsides of the Rwenzori foothills.

The Mihunga community tourism group, Turaco View, takes you on a cultural tour of the village, which includes a demonstration by a traditional healer, whose plant-based ointments and infusions are essential to this remote Ugandan community, which has no electricity or running water. Visitors will also enjoy a trip to the village school and a crafts demonstration, in which Bakonzo women demonstrate how they create their intricate baskets from natural materials.

You will also be treated to a performance of the lively Bakonzo dance, accompanied by African drumming.


Highlights

  • Learn how the traditional healer uses the leaves, fibers and bark of rain forest plants to treat patients in the village.
  • Enjoy the Bakonzo dance and the rhythm of the handmade hide drums.
  • Experience a Ugandan classroom and know that your visit to Turaco View is contributing to the education of the pupils.

Responsible Travel

  • All guides and restaurant staff are from Mihunga community
  • The fruit and vegetables in the Turaco View restaurant are purchased from local farmers
  • Income from community tourism supports conservation and reforestation projects, a community piggery project and microfinance schemes 

Package Includes

  • Guided tour and performances
Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256-414501866+256-414501866 / +256-772657700+256-772657700

Duration
Two hours, but flexible
What to Bring
  • Walking shoes or boots
  • Layers and a waterproof jacket (the climate is changeable in the mountains)
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Hat and sun screen
  • Cash for tips and craft purchases
Price
15 $ per person catering for the guide and the experience
Book with these operators & lodges:
  • GeoLodges Equator Snow
  • Rwenzori Trekking Services
Contact us for more information about Pearls of Uganda

Email: info@pearlsofuganda.org

The Batwa Trail

Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes were home to the Batwa people: hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine thanks to ancient knowledge passed down for generations.

When Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established, the Batwa were suddenly evicted from the forest and forced to abandon their low-impact, nomadic lifestyle. Now landless, they work when they can for local farmers, and the only time they are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on The Batwa Trail, where they invite visitors to discover the magic of their old home.

During this moving tour, the Batwa demonstrate hunting techniques; gather honey; point out medicinal plants and demonstrate how to make bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King, where the women of the community perform a sorrowful song which echoes eerily around the depths of the dark cave, and leaves guests with a striking and moving sense of the richness of this fading culture.

Highlights

  • Switch off your flashlight in the Ngarama Cave, as ghostly singing begins to echo in the pitch darkness
  • Making fire requires team work! Watch your Batwa guides create fire to smoke out bees
  • See a traditional Batwa grass hut – quick to build and to demolish which was essential for this nomadic culture
  • Enjoy the lively dance at the cave´s entrance as the Batwa women sing a traditional song to welcome their guests
  • Walk through the pristine Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, with spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes

Responsible Travel

  • Most Batwa are unable to earn money to provide for their families, as they have no land of their own. Part of the fee goes directly to the guides and performers, while the rest is put into a community fund which will help pay for school fees and books, and purchase land.
  • 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

Package Includes

  • Guided tour and performances

Contact The Batwa Trail for more information

Email:  uobdubatwa@gmail.com

Web: www.TheBatwaTrail.com

Phone: +256 486 430 140

Duration
Full day tour (Note: this tour involves hiking at an altitude of around 2,500m for at least 4-5 hours.)
OR
Half day tour
What to Bring
  • Packed lunch and plenty of drinking water
  • Good hiking shoes or boots, sun screen and a hat
  • The weather varies greatly at this altitude – we recommend bringing layers, including a waterproof jacket
  • Tips for the guides and performers
Price
$80 US per person (includes UWA park entry fee)
Book with these operators & lodges:
Contact us for more information about Pearls of Uganda

Email: info@pearlsofuganda.org

Nkuringo Community Experience

Location: Nkuringo, bordering Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Congo border

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.

Step back in time with a visit to Nicholas the blacksmith, who beats knives and machetes into shape in coals fired by his father´s sheepskin bellows. Sesilia will welcome you into her home – a series of traditional huts used for grinding millet, cooking over an open fire and distilling waragi gin. Pena is the village´s traditional healer – and she will show you how she uses native plants to make tea, ointments and powder to cure all manner of ills.

Visitors with extra time can request a visit to the school, hike up to the top of a hill overlooking the Congo border or see the piggery project in action – just let us know!

Highlights

  • The blacksmith´s art has changed little in centuries – watch how a shapeless lump of iron is magically transformed into a sharp knife!
  • Greet local residents as you stroll through the village streets enjoying the spectacular scenery
  • Learn the secrets of the Impenetrable Forest as the traditional healer shows how leaves and bark are used to treat headaches, pneumonia, polio and “bewitched legs”!

Responsible Travel

  • The tour and craft shop are operated by the Nkuringo Conservation and Development Foundation (NCDF).  The community conserves the gorillas in this area, and in return are able to benefit from gorilla tourism through the development of community tourism activities in Nkuringo.
  • All guides and NCDF staff are local, and all profits from the sale of crafts are returned to the artisans
  • The local Batwa community are also supported and promoted through NCDF
  • 30% of the tour fee goes to NCDF, 30% to the community guides and 40% to the site owners
  • NCDF trains a group of local orphans who perform at the community-owned Clouds Lodge – guests can arrange to sponsor an orphan (selected by a local committee)

Package Includes

  • Guided walk and all demonstrations

Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256-414501866 / +256-772657700

Duration
Two to three hours, depending on preferences
What to Bring
  • Good walking shoes (it can get muddy)
  • Waterproof jacket and warm layers as the climate is extremely changeable
  • Sun screen and hat
  • Money for tips (please give to your guide after the tour) and craft purchases from the NCDF shop
Price
$10 US per person
Book with these operators & lodges:
Contact us for more information about Pearls of Uganda

Email: info@pearlsofuganda.org

Buhoma Community Cultural Walk

Location: At the main entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Overlooking the imposing hillsides of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, with the mist swirling over the summits, this is one of the most dramatic settings for your cultural tour!

Your first stop is a handicraft shop run by the community women´s group. These skilled artisans create beautiful grass mats, wood carvings, dyed fabrics, handmade paper and natural beeswax candles. Next, you will meet the Batwa – former forest dwellers who perform songs and dances about the forest they are no longer permitted to live in. One of the most important community figures is the traditional healer – who not only treats the sick, but uses his knowledge to conserve and educate about the various medicinal plants. The primary school visit gives an insight into life as a rural child in Buhoma, as you meet the friendly teachers and pupils.

You are sure to see many, many bananas on your travels through Uganda – and this tour concludes with an explanation of the different types – along with a demonstration of how they are used. Watch, taste and enjoy!

Highlights

  • Purchase beautiful crafts made by local women – and know that your money will help them take care of their families and send their children to school
  • Hear the moving story of the Batwa people- they are working with local NGOs to purchase land in order to cultivate crops and finally become self-sufficient again.
  • Meet the local healer. He can treat anything from stomach aches to impotence – a form of traditional Viagra!
  • Learn the process of transforming bananas first refreshing banana juice, then to a popular beer (rwarwa) and finally to local gin (waragi). Will you dare to try it?!

Responsible Travel

  • All 12 guides used are local, and the banana brewing and the sale of handicrafts benefit local producers
  • The Batwa receive all the proceeds from their performances
  • 20% of the fee goes to Buhoma Community Rest Camp Council which supports community development projects
  • Since the Community Rest Camp opened, a community secondary school has been opened with funds from tourism. They also support a local primary school, are starting others, and fund local nurseries.
  • A maize mill has abeen funded by the Rest Camp
  • A microfinance “circle” has also been started in the community.

Package Includes

  • Guided tour
Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256-414501866 / +256-772657700

Duration
Three hours
What to Bring
  • Good walking shoes or boots – it can get muddy!
  • Waterproof jacket or poncho, and warm layers – the weather is extremely changeable in the mountains
  • Sun screen
  • Sun hat
  • Waterproof bag for cameras and other equipment
Price
$15 US per person
Book with these operators & lodges:
Contact us for more information about Pearls of Uganda

Email: info@pearlsofuganda.org

Ruboni Village Walk

Location: Bordering Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Stretching along the Congo border, the spectacular snow-capped Rwenzoris are the third highest mountains in Africa, but one of the most difficult to climb. The Bakonzo people have lived in the foothills for around 300 years, and invite visitors to experience daily life in their village, surrounded by rainforests, banana plantations, glacial rivers and the peaks of the “Mountains of the Moon.”

Discover the village of Ruboni, home to around 2000 Bakonzo. Walk with them as they demonstrate their daily activities, from tending to their animals and crops, to preparing meals with the freshest ingredients. You will visit a homestead, where food is cooked on an outdoor fire, as well as meeting the blacksmith, the traditional healer, basket weavers and storytellers. Additional activities include a vibrant dance performance by Ruboni villagers, accompanied by lively drumming; and for those who want to get even more involved, there is an African drumming class (both booked separately).

Highlights

  • The homestead provides an insight into authentic Ugandan life – see how daily tasks are carried out with no electricity, gas or kitchen appliances.
  • In remote areas such as this, the traditional healer takes the place of clinics, hospitals and doctors. Learn about the ailments that can be treated with plants from the surrounding mountain slopes.
  • Watch how a knife or panga (machete) is fashioned by hand from a shapeless lump of iron. The blacksmith´s essential work has changed little over the centuries.

Responsible Travel

  • Tourism revenue has funded a number of initiatives including a child school sponsorship program and a tree nursery project. Seedlings are given to local families or planted in the community forest.
  • Funds from the dance performance are invested in small-scale animal husbandry for the dancers’ families.
  • Income from the sale of crafts is used by the craftswomen to buy goats and pigs, as well as the promotion of a household savings and investment programme.
Package Includes
  • Guided village tour and all demonstrations
Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256-414501866 / +256-772657700

Website: www.rubonicamp.com

 

Duration

Two to three hours

What to Bring

  • Walking shoes or boots
  • Layers and a waterproof jacket (the climate is changeable in the mountains)
  • Drinks
  • Hat and sun screen
  • Cash for tips and craft purchases
  • Camera

Price

  • Village Walk: 15$ USh pp,
  • Dance performance: 1-5 people: 25$/ more than 5 people: 35$
  • Drumming lesson: 10$ per person (one hour)

Book with these operators & lodges:

  • GeoLodges Equator Snow Lodge

Contact us for more information about Pearls of Uganda

Email: info@pearlsofuganda.org

      Katwe Salt Lake Tour

Location: Bordering Queen Elizabeth National Park

This unusual lake is far too salty to support any wildlife – though since the 16th Century it has ensured the survival of the Katwe villagers, who spend their days under the equatorial sun, harvesting salt from its milky waters.

Unique networks of paths and huts have been built across the lake to support hundreds of workers, as selling the rock and table salt to traders from across Uganda, and as far as Congo and Rwanda, is the main source of income for the community.

This tour gives visitors a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining, as well as providing an alternative income for Katwe. During the tour of the lake you will see community members at work, cross the mud walkways and enter one of the traditional grass huts, used to shelter and store tools. You will also pass the nearby bird sanctuary lake, home to thousands of birds, including flamingos from October to May.


Highlights

  • Flamingos fill the bird sanctuary lake from October to May – come and witness this dramatic splash of color!
  • Enjoy the spectacular views across Katwe Lake from the hilltop
  • Experience life on the lake – learn how the women churn the waters to harvest salt from the surface, while the men carry black rock salt gathered from the lake bed
  • Walk the trail to the lake that has been used for 500 years – by people, hippos and even the odd lion!

Responsible Travel

  • All guides used are local, and have received training
  • Profits raised have gone towards supplying desks for local schools, and supporting older residents who are no longer able to mine salt.
  • Local crafts and handmade batik and tie-dye fabrics are available to purchase at the main office – profits go to the craftswomen of the Katwe Women´s Group.
  • The women perform dramas and songs in surrounding communities and schools to raise awareness of issues such as HIV and the environment, especially poaching.

Package Includes

  • Guided visit to salt lake and bird sanctuary

Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256 414 501 866 / +256 772 657 700

Duration

Two hours, but flexible

What to Bring
  • Suitable walking shoes
  • Sun screen
  • Insect repellent
  • Bottled water and snacks
  • Light, long-sleeved shirt, hat and sunglasses are recommended
  • Tips for guide and community members
  • Camera – please ask permission before photographing the workers
Price

$10 US per person

Book with these operators & lodges:

Boomu Women’s Group Village Walk

Location: Between Budongo Forest Reserve and Murchison Falls National Park

Boomu Women´s Group has around 40 members from the villages of Kihaguzi and Kigaragara. These subsistence farmers had little produce left over to sell, so in 1999 the women´s group was formed, with the aim of reducing poverty and malnutrition, and providing an income for the members to be able to pay their children´s school fees. What began as a craft group has evolved into a wonderful community tourism project, with accommodation, a restaurant, unique guided tours and a well-tended garden.

This scenic walk through the village reveals to visitors the features of everyday rural life, as well as explaining the hardships facing the community. Your guide will show you the various crops that are grown in Kigaragara, as well as taking you to visit the village blacksmith. Storytellers share tales about customs and the local way of life, and a visit to the nursery can be arranged on request.

Visitors can also book a separate cooking demonstration or a basket weaving class to learn this complex art.

Highlights

  • Hear tales of game hunting from those who are old enough to remember, as well as descriptions of Banyoro courtship rituals and birth celebrations.
  • Learn about the difficulties the communities face due to issues such as lack of education, no electricity or running water and population growth. This tour is one of the few sources of income for local residents.
  • See traditional farming methods and discover how different crops are processed

Responsible Travel

  • Boomu has four full-time employees and many part-time staff who benefit directly from tourism.
  • All the money from the community tour and a percentage of the turnover is put into a community fund finances school books, soap, pencils and porridge for local children attending a nursery created by Boomu.
  • Other projects that benefit from this fund are educational projects, local clinics, improving access to water and agroforestry initiatives.
  • Community members have also been trained in high-quality blanket weaving, which can be sold to local lodges and hotels.

Contact us for more information

Email:  info@pearlsofuganda.org
Phone: +256-414501866 / +256-772657700

Duration

Two hours, but flexible

What to Bring
  • Sun screen and hat
  • Light clothing, preferably with long sleeves/pants
  • Insect repellent
  • Cash for tips and craft purchases
  • Drinks and snacks
Price
  • Village walk: 10000 USh
  • Cooking demonstration: 10000 USh
  • Basket weaving demonstration: 10,000 USh
Book with these operators & lodges: