Where is Burundi?
Burundi is located in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. Neighboring Tanzania, Rwanda Democratic Republic, Burundi has a coast with Lake Tanganyika. It is also called the heart of Africa because of its appearance on the map.
Bujumbura was the Burundi capital until the end of 2018. On December 24th, 2018 Gitega was announced the new capital of Burundi. There are different claims about capital change, but it's mostly related to the political situation in the country. The Burundi capital, Bujumbura, had always been at the centre of years of civil war in the country. The Burundi government believes that changing the capital to Gitega will help stabilize the situation in the country.
Official languages are French and Kirundi. Besides, the Swahili language is also spoken among the people. The religious affiliation of the people is also different. 67% of the population is Christian, and 10% is Muslim. The remaining 23% have local beliefs.
85% of the population is Hutus, and 14% is Tutsi. The remaining 1% is made up of Twa, Europeans and Southeast Asia.
Although Burundi is a small region, its climate varies based on regions. The ideal time to visit Burundi is the end of May and June. Because from July to January are very dry.
Is it safe to travel to Burundi?
Often in underdeveloped countries like Burundi, the common security problem is rubbery or illness, but this time the situation is beyond these. Unfortunately, the most important problem in the country is political instability. For many years the country was a colony of Germany and Belgium, so it has always been the home of ethnic and civil wars. Although the situation has improved somewhat in recent years, it still continues. The Burundian government is taking measures to prevent this. But if you are planning to travel to Burundi, it is recommended that you know the current situation there and plan your trip accordingly.
What vaccines do I need to travel to Burundi?
Another important thing to pay attention to is health. As in every country, there are some diseases in Burundi. The World Health Organization has published a list of vaccinations that must be done before travelling the country.
Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera are common diseases that can be transmitted through food and water.
Mosquitoes, which live in warm climates, are also one of the most common insects in Burundi. Therefore, yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for everyone older than 9 months.
Rabies is another recommended vaccination by WHO for travellers who are planning a long stay in the country. The disease can be transmitted from animals.
Given the political and economic situation in the country, you may think, why should I travel to this country? All I can say is that it varies depending on the purpose of your travel. Here are 10 reasons why you should travel to Burundi right now that will change your mind about this country.
1. Source of Nile
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Nile is that it is the longest river in the world. The river has several tributaries. It is claimed that the southernmost source of the river is located in the territory of Burundi. At the source of the river, there is a building reminiscent of the Egyptian pyramids. From here you can see the panoramic view of the river. Tourists often write their names on the walls of the pyramid.
2. Lake Tanganyika
Tanganyika Lake is another nice place in Burundi. The lake is the longest (673 km) and second deepest (72 km) freshwater reserve in the world. There are more than 350 species of fish in the lake, and about 95% of them are endemic. Besides the fish, Lake Tanganyika is home to amazing species of animals that astonish tourists all year. Animals live here both on the lake and on the shores of the lake. There is a great spot to see crocodiles, but especially the hippos, which occasionally come out of the lake to sunbathe on the beaches, providing a unique spectacle for tourists and nature lovers.
3. Mount Heha
Mount Heha is the highest point of the country and one of the most visited places by tourists. Its height is 2667 meters. After hiking, when you reach the highest peak of the mountain, you can see a beautiful view of Lake Tanganyika in the open air.
4. National Parks
Speaking of nice places in Burundi it is impossible not to talk about its national parks. As Burundi is an equatorial country, it has led to the formation of various peculiar species of flora and fauna. So, it is no coincidence that there are three national parks in this small African country. The first of these is the Rusizi National Park. The park is located in the northwest of Bujumbura and Rusizi is one of the rivers which discharge into the Tanganyika Lake. It is home to different unique species such as hippopotamus, monkeys, colourful birds, and most importantly Nile crocodiles.
Kibira National Park is another nice place in Burundi. Located at the top of the mountains, the most famous inhabitants of this park are monkeys. Red-listed animals such as chimpanzees, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, and black colobus are protected in the park.
Ruvubu National Park is the largest national park in the country, and here you will get acquainted not only with mammals but also with more than 400 species of outstanding birds.
The recommended time to visit these parks is during short rainy and short dry seasons, September to January.
5. Livingstone-Stanley Monument
It is claimed that this monument has been memorialized in honour of the Europeans who first came to Africa. These Europeans are Dr David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, who were explorers of Africa in the 1870s.
6. Gishora Drum Sanctuary
Gishora Drum Sanctuary is one of the top attractions held in Gitega. It is the best way to learn about the culture and history of Burundi from its roots. In 2014, this heritage was included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
7. Rutana Province
There are eighteen provinces in Burundi. Rutana is one of them and famous for Karera Waterfalls and Nyakazu Fault. Karera Waterfalls is one of the nice places in Burundi, which has four waterfalls. The highest one is about 80 meters.
Nyakazu Fault has historical importance for Burundi and as well as for Germans. It is claimed that this event took place during the reign of Mwezi IV. During the invasion of Burundi by German troops, many soldiers gave lives due to their faults. That's why, in some sources, it is called the "Fault of Germans".
In Burundi, which has no borders to the sea, the manufacturing sector is weak, and its resources are limited. Most of the population is engaged in agriculture. 40% of the land is arable, and 80% of export products are based on coffee. Burundi's best coffees are Fully Washed and Bourbon. Most likely, the coffee you drink at home comes from this country. When it comes to supporting local production, it is advisable to buy pure Burundian coffee to taste one of the most delicious coffees in the world.
Due to a lack of technological development in the agricultural sector, you can find lots of organic fruits and vegetables here. Lunch with Lake Tanganyika fish and vegetables and fruits grown in volcanic soils will give you unforgettable tastes. Since there is a community from South Asia in the country, it is possible to find curry sauce dishes frequently. Samosa and shish kebab are widely consumed. Shish kebab and grilled banana are national dishes.
10. Medical care
Along with all these beauties, it is unfortunate that the healthcare system is poorly developed in this small country. In the regions, other than the capital of Burundi, Gitega, and Bujumbura, it is challenging to find specialized doctors in the country. This leads to the spreading of various diseases and deaths at a young age.
With an area of 27 km2, Burundi has a lot to offer. It is second to none in the world with its lakes, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, animals, plants and, most importantly, coffee. Its political instability should not underestimate this incredible country.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the reasons for coming here depend on your purpose. In addition to ecotourism, the country also needs volunteers. If you would like to travel to Burundi as a volunteer and help the people here, you can apply to various volunteer programs.