Burundi is a small and mountainous country located in East Africa. Despite being lesser known, it has plenty to offer visitors, from beautiful natural landscapes to rich cultural experiences. In this blog post, we will explore the top tourist attractions in Burundi. We will also provide practical information for tourists, including safety considerations, visa requirements, and transportation options.
Overview of Burundi
Lying almost in the center of Africa, Burundi is sandwiched between Congo and Tanzania. The country offers wonderful views of Lake Tanganyika, which is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the world. Nature has bestowed Burundi with great natural beauty, and the people are warm and welcoming. However, Burundi has been wracked with decades of ethnic fighting, and only just beginning to come into its own.
Safety Considerations for Tourists
is Burundi safe for tourists? Prior to embarking on a journey to Burundi, it is paramount to acquaint oneself with the safety factors that pertain to tourists. Alarming cases of violent offenses, ranging from physical assault to carjacking and home invasion, have been documented in Burundi. Notably, scoundrels have been known to target both foreigners and residents who are suspected to be carrying large sums of money.
Local law enforcement officials lack adequate resources and training, making it difficult to counteract these crimes effectively. Therefore, it is essential to exercise precautionary measures whilst traveling in Burundi, including refraining from walking unaccompanied at night and carrying only minimal cash.
Top Tourist Attractions in Burundi You Don’t Want to Miss
Sightseeing in Bujumbura
Explore the Capital City of Bujumbura
Bujumbura is the capital city of Burundi and is home to some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. On a guided tour of Bujumbura, you’ll get to visit the central market, where you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. You’ll also get to visit local artisan shops, where you can purchase unique souvenirs to take back home with you.
Visit the Central Market
The central market is a bustling hub of activity, where vendors from all over the country come to sell their wares. Here, you’ll find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to traditional clothing and jewelry. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and interact with the friendly locals.
Discovering Local Artisan Shops
Bujumbura is home to many talented artisans who create beautiful handicrafts using traditional methods. On your guided tour, you’ll get to visit some of these shops and see firsthand how these artisans create their masterpieces. You’ll also have the opportunity to purchase some of these unique items as souvenirs to take back home with you.
Tour of the Presidential Palace
The Presidential Palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bujumbura and is a must-visit attraction on your guided tour. The palace has a rich history and has been the site of many important events in Burundi’s past. Your guide will provide you with insights into the palace’s history and significance, making it a fascinating experience for history buffs.
Rusizi National Park
The Rusizi National Park is located just outside of Bujumbura and is a fascinating destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The plains surrounding the river are flooded periodically, bringing hundreds of animals to the area for this vital life resource. Visitors can see a variety of wildlife, including hippos, crocodiles, and primates.
The Karera Waterfalls are located in the Northern Burundi Region and are a popular hiking destination. Visitors can enjoy scenic views of hills and mountains while hiking to the waterfalls. The area is also home to several species of birds and butterflies.
What to Expect
The hike to the Karera Waterfalls is approximately 2 hours, and visitors should wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. The trail can be steep in some places, so it is important to take caution when hiking.
Getting There and Entry Fees
The Karera Waterfalls are located approximately 3 hours from Bujumbura by car. Visitors must pay an entry fee to access the park, which varies depending on the season.
Relaxation on Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake and the second-largest of the African Great Lakes. It stretches across four countries, with 46% of it sitting in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (40%). The lake offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and recreation, including beachfront activities, boat tours, and fishing.
Lake Tanganyika’s shores are lined with beautiful sandy beaches, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. On your guided tour, you’ll have some time to unwind on the beach, swim in crystal-clear waters, or play beach volleyball with your fellow travelers.
One of the best ways to experience Lake Tanganyika is by boat. On your guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on a scenic boat ride, taking in the stunning views of the lake and its surrounding landscapes. You may even have the chance to spot some of the lake’s many inhabitants, including crocodiles, hippos, and a variety of bird species.
Fishing and Water Sports
Lake Tanganyika is also an ideal destination for fishing enthusiasts and water sports lovers. On your guided tour, you can try your hand at fishing or participate in various water sports activities, such as kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
Rumonge Nature Reserve
The Rumonge Nature Reserve is located in the Western Burundi Region and is a top destination for nature lovers. The reserve is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including several species of monkeys, birds, and butterflies.
Visitors to the Rumonge Nature Reserve can enjoy a variety of sightseeing opportunities, including guided nature walks and birdwatching tours. The reserve also offers several viewpoints where visitors can take in stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Located near Lake Tanganyika, the Rumonge Nature Reserve is an excellent destination for water-based activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, and fishing in the lake.
Biodiversity and Wildlife
The Rumonge Nature Reserve is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including monkeys, birds, and butterflies. Visitors can spot these species while exploring the reserve’s various habitats, such as wetlands, forests, and savannas.
For those who love hiking, the Rumonge Nature Reserve offers several trails that wind through the reserve’s beautiful landscape. These trails vary in length and difficulty, catering to hikers of all experience levels.
Cultural Experiences in Burundi – Tourist Attractions in Burundi
Language and Religion
The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi and French, with English being spoken in some areas as well. The majority of the population adheres to Christianity, with a significant number practicing traditional African religions.
Traditional Dance Performances
Burundi has a rich cultural heritage, and traditional dance performances are a popular way to showcase this history. One of the most famous dance groups in Burundi is the Royal Drummers of Burundi, who perform energetic routines accompanied by the beat of large drums. These performances are a celebration of the country’s rich cultural heritage and showcase the incredible talent of the local performers. Your guided tour will include a visit to a local performance, allowing you to experience this vibrant aspect of Burundian culture firsthand.
Local Markets and Crafts
Visiting local markets is a great way to experience the culture and daily life of Burundi. These markets offer a variety of goods, including local foods, handmade crafts, and textiles. Visitors can also purchase traditional handicrafts, such as baskets, pottery, and wood carvings, as souvenirs.
Practical Information for Tourists
Visa Requirements and Travel Tips
Most foreign visitors to Burundi are required to obtain a visa before entering the country. Tourist visas can be obtained at Burundian embassies or consulates abroad, or upon arrival at Bujumbura International Airport. It is important to check the current visa requirements for your nationality before traveling to Burundi.
Burundi offers a range of accommodation options for tourists, including hotels, guesthouses, and homestays. Prices can vary depending on the location, amenities, and type of accommodation. It is recommended to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
Transportation within Burundi
Public transportation options in Burundi include buses, minibusses, and shared taxis. These options are generally inexpensive but can be crowded and unreliable. For more comfortable and reliable transportation, private taxis or car rentals are available. However, it is important to note that road conditions in Burundi can be poor, particularly during the rainy season.
Unique Experiences on a Guided Tour In Burundi
Benefits of a Guided Tour
Embarking on a guided tour is the best way to experience all that Burundi has to offer. A guided tour provides you with a local expert who will show you around and provide you with insights into the local culture, history, and traditions. You’ll also have access to private transportation, which makes it easier to get around and see more of the country in a shorter time frame. Additionally, guided tours often include accommodation, meals, and activities, which means you don’t have to worry about planning anything yourself and can focus on enjoying your trip.
Safari in Ruvubu National Park
Ruvubu National Park is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse parks in Burundi. It covers an area of over 5,000 square kilometers and is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, hippos, and antelopes. On your guided tour, you’ll get to explore the park’s many hiking trails, go on wildlife safaris, and witness breathtaking views of the park’s many rivers and waterfalls.
Ruvubu National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including some of Africa’s most iconic animals. On your guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to witness these animals in their natural habitat, making it an unforgettable experience for animal lovers.
Burundi is also home to a variety of bird species, making it a great destination for bird watchers. Ruvubu National Park is home to over 400 bird species, including rare and endemic species that can only be found in Burundi.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Ruvubu National Park has many hiking trails that lead through its beautiful forests, rivers, and waterfalls. On your guided tour, you’ll get to explore these trails and witness the park’s stunning natural beauty up close.
Cultural Immersion in Gitega – Tourist Attractions in Burundi
Gitega is Burundi’s second-largest city and is known for its rich cultural heritage. On your guided tour of Gitega, you’ll get to visit the Royal Palace Museum, meet local artisans, and experience traditional dancing and music performances.
Visit the Royal Palace Museum
The Royal Palace Museum in Gitega is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in Burundi’s history and culture. The museum showcases the country’s royal heritage, featuring artifacts, clothing, and items used by the kings of Burundi. Your guide will provide you with information on the history and significance of these items, making the visit an educational and fascinating experience.
Meeting with Local Artisans
Like Bujumbura, Gitega is also home to many talented artisans who create beautiful handicrafts using traditional methods. On your guided tour of Gitega, you’ll get to meet some of these artisans and learn about their craft. This is a great opportunity to witness the local art scene and purchase unique souvenirs to take back home with you.
Trekking in the Kibira National Forest
The Kibira National Forest is one of the last remaining rainforests in Burundi and covers an area of over 400 square kilometers. It is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, some of which are endemic to the region. A visit to the Kibira National Forest offers a unique opportunity to explore this lush and pristine environment on foot, with guided nature walks, mountain climbing, and bird-watching activities available.
Embarking on a nature walk through the Kibira National Forest is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest and learn about its unique plant and animal species. Your guide will provide you with fascinating information on the forest’s flora and fauna as you walk along the well-maintained trails, making it an educational and enjoyable experience.
For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Kibira National Forest offers mountain climbing opportunities. With the guidance of your experienced tour guide, you can ascend some of the forest’s peaks and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
The Kibira National Forest is home to over 200 bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. On your guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to spot some of these beautiful species, including rare and endemic birds that can only be found in this region of Burundi.
Conclusion on Visiting Burundi
Despite being a lesser-known tourist destination, Burundi has much to offer visitors in terms of natural beauty and cultural experiences. While it is important to be aware of safety concerns and take necessary precautions, those who venture to this East African gem will be rewarded with stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality. From exploring the bustling city of Bujumbura to hiking through beautiful nature reserves, there is something for everyone in Burundi.
So if you’re looking for unique tourist attractions in Burundi and an off-the-beaten-path travel experience, consider adding Burundi to your bucket list. With its intriguing mix of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and friendly locals, this small African nation offers a memorable and enriching journey for those willing to explore its hidden gems. Happy travels!