10 things I wish I knew before going to Burundi
What is the capital of Burundi? Surely, such a question would lead you to a dead end. Very few people know about the existence of such a country!
Among the other States of the African continent, Burundi occupies a very tiny piece of land on the world map. It is not particularly popular with tourists, because of the fact where is Burundi located. Located on a plateau between the Nile and the Congo, the country is landlocked. Its name means "the land where the Rundi language is spoken".
Burundi is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. For a century and a half, it was a German colony, then a Belgian one. Only in 1962, it gained independence. However, this did not affect the local Burundi population standard of living – more than 50% are still below the poverty line. It is known that there are 20 mobile phones and only 4 computers per thousand inhabitants. There is only one higher education institution in the country, and Europeans own the existing enterprises. Medicine here is also at a low level, which is one of the main reasons for the low popularity.
Yet, if you love the exotic culture and are not afraid of possible difficulties, there is something to see and try. The capital of Burundi, waterfalls, hot springs, natural reserves, national parks, and, of course, the coffee of Burundi - this is what will not leave indifferent, even an avid traveler.
Do you know where is Burundi on the map? Burundi on the map is located south of the equator. This contributes to the presence of a mild and warm climate, and there is no sweltering heat here. If you are planning to visit this exotic country, we recommend that you first get acquainted with the so-called seasons so that the trip is not spoiled by heavy precipitation.
So, the calendar year of Burundi is divided into 3 seasons:
* June-August. The winter season, when cold winds blow. Usually, the weather is dry and sunny.
* August-October. The hottest period, characterized by an abundance of precipitation.
* October-June. The optimal time for tourists. The rains are moderate, and the air temperature is quite comfortable for traveling.
To visit Burindi with an excursion and educational purpose, choose the third period to get a real pleasure from the contemplation of natural landscapes in all their glory.
When traveling around the country, be careful. Even though there has been peace and tranquility here for some time, it is still worth being on guard and observing certain security measures.
Do not leave the capital of Burundi unnecessarily after sunset. Mostly unfavorable is considered to be the northern directions of the state, as well as any remote areas. Also, refrain from visiting the areas bordering the Congo, due to the unsettled situation.
Do not take large amounts of cash, jewelry, or mobile phones with you. And when you are in places with a large crowd of people, carefully watch your belongings. Take special care of this in the central market of Bujumbura (the capital of Burundi), as this is where the highest level of pickpocketing is observed.
Remember that there are many poisonous snakes in Burundi. When going for a walk outside the city, do not forget to take a special serum with you.
In order not to "catch" one of the many E. coli, do not drink tap water, and hand antiseptic should become your constant companion along with a bottle of drinking water from the store.
National Burundian dishes have retained some shades of German and Belgian cuisine. The main ingredients of local delicacies are legumes, rice and bananas. Fish is not cooked much, and most often it is present in dried form for a longer shelf life. You remember where is Burundi, don't you? In the absence of access to the sea, local cafes can try Nile perch or sardines, which are found in the freshwater lake Tanganyika.
If you want to try meat Burundi dishes, you will be disappointed. Due to its poverty, meat is extremely rare in the country. In addition, the cow is a sacred animal for Burundians, so beef is not used for food.
But this interesting country can be confidently called a "banana paradise". As a dessert, bananas with butter and sugar are prepared here. Bananas are put in the first dishes, and as a side dish – in the second. Even beer is brewed from bananas! It is characterized by a high strength – 28%.
4. Cities in Burundi
Do you know what is the capital of Burundi? Bujumbura. There is an international airport, consulates, several quite decent Burundi hotels and restaurants. If traveling around the country, you have chosen remote corners, then be sure to allocate at least a day to visit Bujumbura to plunge into the atmosphere of the 60s of the 20th century. Until now, the colonial administration has been preserved in its original form. You can admire the European architecture of the time of the Belgian rule. And the entire capital of Burundi is just full of unusual monuments, painted with bright colors.
The second-largest city in the state is Gitega. It houses the cathedral, the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, and the royal palace. For those who are interested in history, it will be interesting to visit the national museum, where a unique collection of weapons, national clothing, jewelry and photographs is collected.
According to the president, Gitega will become the main city of the country in the future. Therefore, it may not be worth keeping in mind the answer to the question: "Which city is the capital of Burundi?"
5. Attitude to tourists
Be prepared for increased attention to your person from local residents, especially children. For the sake of admiring the "miracle" with white skin, the children may not even go to school and follow you around, watching every movement with eager interest.
I must say that the attitude of local residents towards foreign tourists is based on a genuine interest in the person itself, rather than the fullness of their wallets.
The only difference between Burundi peopls and neighbouring peoples is their dislike of photography. They turn away, cover their faces, wave their hands, and the children simply run away, although they have made every attempt to start a conversation before.
6. Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is one of the best places to visit in Burundi. It is considered to be one of the symbols of Africa. After Lake Baikal, Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest and longest lake in the world. The water in it is so clear that you can see the bottom at a depth of 30 meters.
Tanganyika is a unique biological habitat for rare species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. It is from here that the largest number of exotic freshwater fish for aquariums around the world is exported.
Lake Tanganyika is an important economic and tourist center of Burundi. High-class Burundi hotels have been built here, offering premium-class holidays. You can get to this lovely place on your own and take a boat ride, admiring the Instagrammable views around.
7. Karera Falls
The next best places to visit in Burundi is Karera Falls. Among the tropical forests in the south-eastern part of the state, four beautiful waterfalls formed by the Karera River are hidden. The fourth cascade – the most powerful and picturesque of them – attracts both tourists and locals. It falls from a height of 80 meters into a small lake. Climbing the stairs, you can appreciate the beauty and pageantry of this beautiful landscape from a height. At the very base of the waterfall is a small cave with a font. Legend has it that the kings of Burundi considered this water sacred and after the process of taking the throne performed ablutions here.
8. National Parks
Despite its small size, the country has a lot to see. In the place where is Burundi, there used to be wonderful tropical forests. Over time, almost all of them were destroyed. You can see them in their original form today only in the national parks of Ruvubu, Kibira and Rusizi.
Ruvubu is located at the mouth of the Ruvubu River and is a colorful combination of savanna and woodland. Of particular interest to this national park is the opportunity to see wild African animals in their natural habitat.
Kibira until 1933 was a place for royal hunting. To get to the park, you need to go through the tea plantations. And after visiting the dark thickets, travelers will be able to find themselves in a primeval forest, where fantastic plants and the singing of exotic birds simply fascinate.
Rusizi is a combination of forests, pastures and countless ponds. Here visitors can see hippos, antelopes, monkeys and man-eating crocodiles. But do not worry – quite safe excursions are organized for tourists.
All the national parks of the country can be visited in one day. However, if you have the time, give everyone the necessary amount of attention. Be sure to use the jeep safari service – it is available in all parks. But remember that this is one of the most expensive entertainment in Burundi – about $ 200 for a full program.
9. Burundi coffee
In the 30s of the last century, the first seedlings of Burundi coffee trees were brought to the country. From that moment on, coffee production began to develop here. And this is not surprising. After all, Burundi on the map, along with neighboring Rwanda, occupies a very suitable territory for this. In addition, the fertile volcanic soils and the necessary amount of precipitation have created ideal conditions for growing and maturing Burundi coffee beans.
Despite the 29th place in the list of coffee-producing countries, every year its role in the international coffee market becomes more and more significant. All because the Burundi coffee beans are characterized by the highest quality. This means that the drink from them turns out to be more delicious and flavorful.
If one of the souvenirs that you will bring as a gift to yourself and your loved ones is coffee Burundi, use some tips on its preparation to fully enjoy this noble drink.
It is best to brew coffee in a French press. However, even if you pour the ground grains with boiling water in a mug, the whole room will be filled with a pleasant aroma of high-quality coffee. By the way, Burundi coffee is often mixed with lower-quality grains to "refine" the resulting coffee.
10. Strange law
And finally, one ridiculous, but still valid bill that should be followed when visiting Burundi.
In times of ethnic conflict, residents would go for a run in large crowds. This was done partly to give an outlet for energy, partly to be able to resist the protesters. In 2014, the President of Burundi banned runs involving two or more people, considering it a subversive protest against the government. After the adoption of the law a number of opposition leaders were in jail due to the fact that just ran. Therefore, while in Burundi, forget about sports for a while and just enjoy new experiences.
In general, Burundi is a country for those who are willing to sacrifice certain amenities for the sake of African color, watching animals in their natural environment, as well as untouched nature in national parks. Yes, and for little money and in the absence of crowds of tourists. For real Africa - only in Burundi!
Daiva was born in Lithuania, but almost all her conscious life she lives in Belarus - the most beautiful region of lakes, forests and fields. She has always liked to put her thoughts on paper, whether it was keeping a diary or a school essay. By the way, while she was still a schoolgirl, Daiva wrote a children's book. No less critical hobby in her life is travelling and visiting new places. The nearest and the main goal for Daiva is the dream of a miniature house by the sea in picturesque Spain. The list of countries she visited includes such countries as Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, Bali, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Montenegro, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia.