Destinations

 

Welcome to Burundi

Burundi
Overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Tanganyika with a freshly roasted cup of coffee, banana frites and some succulent brochettes, the serenity and charm of Burundi will dawn on visitors like a pleasant surprise. Sandwiched between African titans Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is now enjoying an influx of curious tourists, attracted by its astounding natural beauty.  Lapped by the clear waters of grand dame Lake Tanganyika, the longest lake in the world, and blessed with lush mountainous jungles to the north and rolling green hills to the east, the only land below 3,000 feet (915m) in Burundi, is a narrow strip of plain along the Ruzizi River. A wealth of sights are on offer, from the thermal waterfalls in the Mugara Reserve and the southern source of the Nile at Rutovu, to Kibira National Park, where chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and crested mangabeys dash swiftly through dense foliage. And even though coffee is the country's largest export, it is the vast tea plantations of Teza and Rwegura that will capture the visitor's imagination. The capital Bujumbura, offers a friendly and cosmopolitan ambience. Charming art deco buildings from the colonial heydays line the streets and restaurants serving Belgian, Asian and Burundi cuisine, as well as the local Primus beer, can be found throughout the centre. For colourful markets, leather, ceramics, ivory and woodcarvings, follow the road to Gitega, Burundi's second largest city, where the Museum of Traditions can also be found.
 
For more information on Flights, Car Hire or Taxis & Airport Collection, please see the relevant pages on our Menu bar.
 

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Burundi the Heart of Africa.  Discover the four corners of Burundi.  Burundi is the best place to climb on top of the hills, walk through the rain forests, navigate the lakes and sunbathe on Burundi beaches.  The Burundian drummers known as Abatimbo in Kirundi play the sacred drums, which are an integral part of the rich Burundian cultural heritage and the elegant female dancers. Enjoy more the creativity of the craftsmen in age-old crafts such as  basketry, pottery, sculpture and painting continue to tell a tale on Burundian traditions and culture that has been handed down through generations.  Moreover, you will enjoy the diversity of our cuisine, whose signature dish has been the unmistakable taste of the mukeke, a unique fish found only in the Lake Tanganyika. And since Bujumbura is a multi-cultural city that brings together people from not only rural Burundi, but also from neighbouring countries and others from further afield, the city prides itself in offering a culinary experience that is influenced by all these diverse peoples and cultures. There is much to see, do and enjoy during your stay in Burundi.
 
Museé Vivant:  Located within Bujumbura, in a reconstructed 'traditional' Burundian village, the Museé Vivant is an interesting place to visit, even if it is perhaps not for the faint-hearted. The 'village' section of the Museé Vivant is a great place to walk around, with a built-to-scale royal habitation, and lovely thatched-roof cabins selling local arts and crafts. The 'zoo' section of the Museé Vivant is, however, a little more 'exotic' than those accustomed to western zoos might be prepared for: the Museé Vivant boasts a leopard, and a celebrated collection of crocodiles, snakes, and other reptiles (not all housed in fantastic conditions) - and for a fee of 2, 000 francs, visitors can buy live guinea pigs to feed to the animals. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but those looking for a more hands-on and unique zoo experience, are sure not to be disappointed.
 
Ruvubu National Park:  The National Park of Ruvubu in north-east Burundi is the biggest protected ecosystem in the country with more than 50, 000 hectares. This unique park is populated with diverse wildlife. Among others, you will find: buffaloes, antelopes, monkeys and hippopotamuses.  In the park they will be experienced guides who lead for a short walk for a few hours or a whole day excursion throughout the park to visit the savannah and its extraordinary beauty.
 
Kibira National Park:  Perched at an altitude between 1, 500 and 2, 660 m at the top of the Congo-Nile range is Kibira Park, a majestic primeval rain forest spread over 40, 000 ha. Formerly a sacred hunting preserve for the kings of Burundi, it is now a protected area and home to some 98 mammal species, a dozen primates (numerous families of chimpanzees, baboons, tailed monkeys, black colobus) as well as some 200 species of birds.  Many streams and rivers that irrigate the country in the East as well as the West have their sources in this park. This rain forest plays a major role in the formation of the Congo and Nile River Basin and constitutes the watershed line.  While rarely visited in the recent past, Kibira National Park has become a place tourists want to visit. On your way there you pass through the impressive tea plantations of Teza and Rwegura. Once in the park, guards lead you deep into the dark undergrowth to discover the charms of this primeval forest including mesmerizing birds’ songs.  Currently there are two access points for the park: the tourist pygmies’ village of Busekera and the hydroelectric dam of Rwegura. The dam is another interesting attraction providing magnificent vistas and a charming spot for rest or an outdoor picnic.  You can choose a short walk or a whole day excursion with experienced guides to visit the savannah and its extraordinary beauty.
 
Ruzizi National Park:  The Natural Preserve of the Ruzizi which is only fifterrn minutes from the center of Bujumbura.  It is a beautiful place withe the wildlife and the flora.  Nineteen species of mammals live there including the hippopotamus, which is the most popular animal of the preserve.  The Ruzizi delta hippopotamuses live in the company of thousands of colorful birds.  The Ruzizi preserve has the honor of hosting the legendary hyphaene, a palm tree that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
 
Protected Area of Kigwena:  Created in 1954, the forest preserve of Kigwena extends over 3, 300 hectares and ranges between 773 and 820. in altitude.  It stretches out over the western piedmont of the Congo-Nile range ending in a gentle slope down to the plain of Lake Tanganyika and straddles the Route 3 national highway.  The hot springs of Mugara are found in this preserve.  This is a unique picturesque forest and only natural equatorial reserve of its kind in the country.
 
Vigizo Historical Monuments:  The Mausoleum of Prince Louis RwagasoreHere rests Prince Louis Rwagasore, the hero of Independence. Prince Louis R. was murdered on 13/10/1961 after the victory of his political party (UPRONA) which he was the secretary general. Mount Vugizo was chosen as a burial because of the altitude.  Unity Monument The mausoleum monument of national unity stands at 500m since 05/02/1992. The term "DUSENYERE K'UMUGOZI UMWE" written in the middle of this monument and the eight jets of water around evoke the image of the bundle of firewood where each person brought his hand. Otherwise said in the national language it relates to the commitment, to the preservation, the promotion and the permanent character of national unity. The flag of unity is flanked by two towers, the national flag and the flag of unity. On this same Mount Vugizo, Jesuits built their first school in Burundi, the College of the Holy Spirit. It was the first interracial college built in Ruanda-Urundi. This property was a great symbol of the Belgian school work in this area. Currently, the college is now occupied by the University of Burundi.
 
Unique Landscapes: Burundi has an incredibly beautiful landscape and rich and varied flora and fauna. From the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa, the land rises abruptly to create dramatic rock formations, gorges with waterfalls, and hot springs. For animal lovers, the cloud forest in the northwest is a haven for primates, while the Rusizi Delta is an oasis of tranquility and a paradise for bird watchers. Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, is a welcoming, vibrant city and growing business center. lts well equipped hotels offer  the latest technological facilities. Tourists can spend the day exploring the city's museum, monuments and craft centers, then sample the exciting night life, with live entertainment in lake side clubs, bars and restaurants which offer a wealth of international cuisine.
 
Source of the Nile:  The famous Nile River has its southernmost source in Burundi, downhill the mount Gikizi at 2, 044m of altitude and at 6, 671km from its contact point with the Mediterranean Sea. It was discovered in 1934 by the German Waldecker.  A pyramid that symbolizes this long sought after discovery was set up in 1938, at the top of the mount Gikizi at 2, 088m of altitude. From this structure, you can look over the central plateau of Bututsi and the plain of Muhweza, as well as the urban centre of Rutana that seems to seep out of the verdant mountain dominating the plain of Kumoso that stretches to the the Tanzanian border. A commemorative metallic signpost indicating the route of the Nile was carved in the east wall of the pyramid. The Nile is the longest river in Africa. Its channel crosses five African countries upstream-downstream, of which Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt, without mentioning other five countries that constitute the bulk of its basin. Huge electric dams of which that of Assuan and Assiout were built on the Nile which made the basis of the political and economic unity of Egypt.
 
Bujumbura Live Museum:  Founded in 1977 its was among the first sites determining the cultural and artistic riches of Burundi. Located in a large park area, the living museum of Bujumbura includes testimonies of cultural heritage, including both the natural and human creations.
 

Business

The business world in Burundi is relatively undeveloped. Lightweight suits should be worn to formal meetings, which are usually conducted in French. An interpreter should be organised beforehand. Handshakes are important in Burundi and formal meetings often include food and drink, which is considered rude to turn down. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5.30pm. During the hotter months, a longer lunch break is taken.
 

Climate

Burundi in general has a tropical highland climate, with a considerable daily temperature range in many areas. Temperature also varies considerably from one region to another, chiefly as a result of differences in altitude. The central plateau enjoys pleasantly cool weather, with an average temperature of 20° (68° ). The area around Lake Tanganyika is warmer, averaging 23° (73° ); the highest mountain areas are cooler, averaging 16° (60° ).  Bujumbur's average annual temperature is 23° (73° ). Rain is irregular, falling most heavily in the northwest. Dry seasons vary in length, and there are sometimes long periods of drought. However, four seasons can be distinguished: the long dry season (June–August), the short wet season (September–November), the short dry season (December–January), and the long wet season (February–May). Most of Burundi receives between 130 and 160 cm (51–63 in) of rainfall a year. The Ruzizi Plain and the northeast receive between 75 and 100cm (30–40 in).
 

Communications

The international dialling code for Burundi is +257. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). There is good mobile phone coverage in the western area of the county and a handful of Internet cafés can be found in Bujumbura.
 

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two pin attachment plugs and round pin plugs with receptacle or male grounding pin are standard.
 

Getting Around

 
Airport
 
Bujumbura Interantional Airport (BJM)
 
Location:   The airport is situated six miles (11km) from Bujumbura centre.
 
Getting to the City:  There is a taxi rank outside of arrivals. Taxis to or from town cost around BIF12, 000.
 
Time:  Local time is GMT +2.
 
Contacts:   Tel: +257 2 23797.
 
Car Rental:  Rental cars are available at the airport from Europcar. Note that all car rentals come with a driver.
 
Facilities:   Facilities at the airport include a small restaurant and duty free shop.
 
Parking:  Parking is available at the airport.
 
Departure Tax:  US$20.
 
Internet:  There is no wifi at the airport.
 
 
 
Road and Rail
 
Road travel fine with car hire readily available but off road vehicles most certainly required to get to the true tourist spots one wants to visit. Burundi does not possess any railway infrastructure, although there are proposals to connect Burundi to its neighbours via railway.

Language

French and Kirundi are the official languages and Swahili is widely spoken along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area.
 

Money

The official currency is the Burundian franc (BIF), which is divided into 100 centimes. Since Burundi started issuing its own currency, centimes have not been produced. Currency exchange can be conducted at a main bank in Bujumbura or Gitega. US dollars, dating before 2003, are often not accepted. Travellers cheques in US dollars or Euros are accepted but commission rates are high. Banks are open from Monday to Friday in the morning only. Credit cards are rarely accepted and ATMs are not readily available, so it is wise to bring the necessary capital in an easily exchangeable currency.
 

Passport Visa

All travellers require a visa, but for some nationalities a visa will be issued upon arrival in Bujumbura, valid for a maximum stay of 30 days. Return or onward tickets, all documents required for next destination and sufficient proof of funds are recommended. We also recommend that passports be valid for six months after intended period of travel.
 
NOTE:  Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
 
 

Time

Local time is GMT +2.
 

Tipping

A 10% tip at restaurants is customary. Porters should also be tipped a few dollars.
 

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