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Your Guide to Bujumbura

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Get in

  • You can get in via the airport, which is close to the city. 1st language is Kirundi, 2nd is French,  and 3rd Kiswahili. However, English has gained popularity in recent years.
     
  • Visa rules and prices change frequently. As of November 2011, two different visas were available on arrival (both at the airport and land borders) - a one month, multiple entry visa costing USD90, and a 3 day (2 night) transit visa for USD40. Visas can be obtained from embassies abroad prior to travel.

 

Get around

  • Taxis are cruising all over town.
     
  • Rides with the small yellow tuk tuk trikes are fun and usually half the price of a taxi. They are a great choice for a maximum of 2 persons without baggage. You can go only until the boundary of the city center as Tuk tuks are banned from the very city center.
     
  • A even cheaper option is a moto-taxi (single seat on a motorbike0.


See

  • Musée Vivant, rue du 13 Octobre (heading west, just before Lake Tanganyika). Small zoo and natural history museum. Exhibits include a chimpanzee fish from Lake Tanganyika, crocodiles, birds, and snakes. There’s also a traditional Burundian village on the grounds. A guide will show you around. Sometimes, local cultural events occur on the grounds, such as performances by the Burundian drummers. 
     
  • Rusizi National Park, RN 4 (a few miles past Club du Lac, nearly at the Congo border). See hippos and crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Rusizi River. The area is also where Gustave, the world's largest Nile crocodile, has been spotted. There are also some amazing birds to be seen. A guide and a guard will join you in the car and give you a tour of the park. You’ll stop at several points along the water to view hippos, crocodiles, and birds.
     
  • Livingstone-Stanley Monument (La Pierre du Livingstone et Stanley), village of Mugere, about 12km south of Bujumbura on RN3 for a gorgeous view of Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone and Stanley passed through the area and a monument has later been raised.
     
  • Go for scenic drives for spectacular views from the hills of Bujumbura Rurale to the east of town or along Lake Tanganyika to the south of town.


Do

  • Beach,  Hippos are very fast & dangerous and can appear everywhere on the shore of the lake Tanganyika - the 2nd largest and 2nd deepest lake in the world. Beaches are 20 Mintutes West of town in the vicinity of the airport.
     
  • Nature, Association Burundaise pour la protection des Oiseaux (ABO), is a local conservation group that conducts birdwatching tours of Rusizi Park and other areas.
     
  • Culture, Check local flyers for information on Burundian drummer performances.  Many activities are organized by the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF), Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore, +257 222351 (City Centre). Extensive monthly film, theatre and music program available from their offices. CCF also offers courses in French and Kiswahili (individual and group).
     
  • Sports, several swimming pools are available for who wants to cool down from the hot days. Federation Football (soccer) games at the Stade in Rohero are at 14:00 and 16:00 on Saturdays.
     
  • Viewpoints, War Memorial at the top end of Ave Belvedere - for great sunset views.


Souvenirs

  • The best place to buy souvenirs is the small curio market on Av de Stade.
     
  • Another small curio market is found on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore, opposite Library St. Paul.
     
  • Most Burundian women wear ‘Igitenge’, a high quality cotton African print fabric.


Eat

  • The people in Bujumbura love their food and enjoy eating out with friends or family. A beef or fish brochette, chips or fried plantain and a fresh salad is available in all restaurants. But take your time. All food is freshly prepared and the cooks take time.
     
  • For a taste of Burundian food, try the green amaranth 'Ilenga lenga' – a name borrowed from DRC – or the cassava leaves stew called 'Isombe'. Both are healthy vegetables that you might see in other parts of the world or indeed in neighboring countries but cooked differently. These vegetables can be eaten with any combination of side dishes (rice, green bananas either fried or cooked, fried/cooked potatoes, beans, etc).
     
  • Another local favorite is 'Ubugali' name derived from the Congolese (DRC) Ugali. In Bujumbura, the most common Ubugali dish is made of dried cassava roots ground into a fine flour. When cooked, it becomes a thick white mash. It is served with beef, fish sauces or the aforementioned Ilenga lenga or Isombe. Most restaurants will not have Ubugali on their menu probably because those who try it the first time find it rather bland.  Elsewhere in the country, Ubugali from corn or sorghum flours is also popular.


Sleep

Accommodation can be broadly split into the northern beach resorts and downtown. Downtown can be further split into places near the lake, the city centre proper, and up in the hills behind the city centre. See our list of recommenced hotels