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Burundi

Burundi
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Burundi or officially the Republic of Burundi is an East African state. It shares its borders with Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. The capital city is Bujumbura.

The climate in the country is tropical with significant temperature changes during the day. The best time for visiting Burundi is from May to August.

The official languages are Rundi and French, but many people can speak Swahili. The majority of the people are the Christians, but a few people follow some traditional religious faiths.

Travel to Burundi if you prefer extreme tourism. Safari-tours, excursions to the national parks where one can watch wild animals, and thematic tours and excursions to the waterfalls are arranged for the tourists.

The major resort in Burundi is Bujumbura close to the huge freshwater Tanganyika lake. It is strongly not recommended to swim in the lake because of the crocodiles. The tourists can go biking, play golf and tennis, visit the local museums and see the sights.

If you come here with the purpose of a wellness tourism, you should take a trip to the Hot Springs of Mugara and have a swim in the natural river basins.

On the Blue Bay Resort, which is close to the capital city, one can rent a boat and equipment and go fishing.

In the country, there are many sanctuaries, temples and ethnic settlements. Those who loves history and culture should definitely visit the ancient capital of Burundi the city of Gitega.

Get in

By Plane

There are direct flights only from Belgium offered by Brussels. The citizens of other European countries have to choose transit flights with a transfer in Brussels. The transit flights are offered by Austrian, Finnair, British Airways, and KLM.

Aeroflot, Turkish Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, and IUA offer transit flights from CIS countries with a stop in Istanbul and Kigali, Paris and Nairobi, Vienna and Dubai.

By Land

There are bus routes from Rwanda to Burundi operated by the companies Volcano Express and African Tours Express.

Visa

The EU and CIS citizens have to obtain a visa to spend their holidays in Burundi. The travellers from the countries where there is no Embassy of Burundi can obtain a visa on arrival.

One should submit the documents for a visa and the time for processing the documents is 10-15 working days.

Standard visitor visa is valid for 30 or 60 days and a tourist has two months before he or she actually enters the country.

It is necessary to provide return tickets when you cross the border.

Customs

The Customs legislation of Burundi does not restrict the transfer of foreign currency, but any sum of money must be declared.

The tourists can bring in Burundi the following goods duty-free:

  • some alcohol and tobacco;
  • clothes, shoes and cosmetics for personal use;
  • one camera per person.

It is prohibited to import:

  • pets without an international vet certificate and a special permit;
  • certain drugs;
  • meat, plants and products of meat and plant origin.

It is not allowed to export:

  • local currency exceeding 2.000 Burundian francs;
  • gold billions and unprocessed diamonds;
  • rare animals and ivory;
  • souvenirs the total cost of which exceeds 300 francs.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Burundi was greatly influenced by the Belgian and French Cuisine but it still preserved its identity. The staple food here is vegetables, fruits, maize, sorgo, fish, meat, and, of course, spices.

If you crave for something truly exotic, you will be offered unusual stew from dried fish, chicken and sweet potatoes. If you are adventurous enough, try fried locust and caterpillars.

A traditional Burundian dish Nyama is a meat and tomatoes stew and Boko-Boko Hariz is chicken prepared according to the old traditional recipe. Meat dishes are more an exception than a regular meal for the local people. However, for the tourists, they can prepare chicken, beef, and goat. Meat dishes are usually served with a savoury sauce Piri Piri.

Because there are so many lakes, people in Burundi like to cook fish. We recommend trying one of the most popular dishes Ndagaa (small roasted fish with tomatoes). Bananas Ndizi are served as a common side dish. Bananas completely substitute potatoes for the locals. The other common sides are a stew Ringa Ringa from the leaves, peanut butter, and tomatoes. The foodies will discover a new taste of Bugali made with the cassava root flour.

The desserts in Burundi are quite simple. You can treat yourself to fruits, jams, and sugar cookies, which are served together with water, juices or tea.

Do not miss a chance to try a strong alcoholic drink made of palms.

Money

The official currency is the Burundian Franc (BIF) which is divided into 100 centimes. The Bank of the Republic of Burundi issues the banknotes from 5.000 to 10 francs and 1 to 10 franc coins.

The tourists can exchange the currency at banks, in large hotels, at the airport and in exchange offices Forex Currency Exchange. The latter offer the best exchange rates.

Be aware that in many regions in Burundi you will not be able to take advantage of the banks’ services and credit cards are almost never accepted.

You can cash traveller’s checks only at large banks in the capital city. To avoid additional costs, take the checks in Euros or US dollars.

We strongly recommend you against using the services of the local people due to a high risk of a fraud. Try to avoid out-of-town trips alone at night.

Details of interest

Sightseeing in Burundi

The fans of excursion tourism will have a chance to visit ten UNESCO candidate sites. And only two of them have a cultural value. They are the Royal Residence of Burundi and the town of Gishora in the Gitega Province. The Royal Residence is a ritual settlement where the ablution of the Burundian monks took place in the past. In the town, anyone can listen to the local musicians playing tam-tams.

An excursion to the Cultural Landscape of Mugamba with its traditional houses is also very popular among the tourists. The houses in this area are very different from other traditional Burundian dwellings. Such buildings demonstrate that people learned to live with nature.

One of the most interesting natural sights for the tourists is the deepest lake in Africa and the second deepest lake in the world Tanganyika. In the lake, there are over 150 species of fish, 7 species of crabs, clams and shellfish. On the shores of the lake, more than 2.000 plants grow and 600 of them you can find only here.

In Burundi, the tourists can see the Muramvya Province cultural and natural landscape. Here, there is the Monarchial capital Mbuye and two necropoleis.

The tourists should also see the Gasumo river in the Bururi Province and the Rwihinda lake in the Kirundo Province.

The Waterfall and the Cave Carrera were once thought to be sacred. The rulers of the country went to a small cave basin.

The Rusizi Natural Reserve is a must-see. There, the tourists can see the hippopotamus, antelopes, and crocodiles. The travellers will also enjoy the nature in the Ruvubu National Park and the Kibira National Park.

In the capital city, you can visit the Burundi Geological Museum and the Burundi Museum of Life, see the Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Bujumbura and the Tombs of the Kings.

Burundian Souvenirs

In Burundi, the tourists usually buy:

  • cosmetic and essential oils;
  • nuts and exotic fruits;
  • crafts;
  • pictures and tapestry;
  • traditional Burundian tam-tams;
  • national clothes;
  • souvenir guns.