Lofty mountains and luminous lakes
Decades of conflict have beleaguered the tiny African nation of Burundi. Until 1962 the country was under Belgian rule, but following independence Burundi slid into civil war and ethnic strife. Calm has returned to a degree but the damage to the country and its economy has positioned it as the poorest nation in the world. Surrounded by the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, Burundi is a scenically striking country of high mountains and sparkling lakes. It was here that Henry Stanley spent time with Dr Livingstone, having found the missing explorer in Tanzania. Livingstone had travelled to the region in search of the source of the Nile and though he never found it, Burundi does indeed hold the most southerly source. Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, is set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and is home to many UN soldiers and aid workers, as well as 200,000 residents.
Go for the stunning scenery and the lovely lake beaches just outside Bujumbura. Go to sit on the shores of Lake Tangyanika enjoying a cold Primus beer in the warm African sun. Those interested in Dr Livingstone’s epic journey and Stanley’s mission to find him will be captivated by Burundi.
When to Go?
Temperatures in Burundi vary from region to region, depending on their altitude. The area around Lake Tanganyika averages 23°C (73F) - Bujumbura is a couple of degrees warmer. It is often windy on the lake, which keeps temperatures pleasant. The country has two rainy seasons – February to May and September to November. Generally the weather in the other months is dry but the seasons can vary in length.
How to get there?
There are no direct flights to Burundi from the UK, but there are a few connecting flights to the capital’s Bujumbura International Airport (BJM). The airport is located 12km from the centre of the city. There are two other airports in Burundi – Gitega and Kirundo. The closest other major international airport is Nairobi in Kenya, situated 871km from the centre of Bujumbura.
Visitors to Burundi are likely to find themselves in Bujumbura. This is really the only city that is currently set up to accommodate tourists, given the political and economic situation. Musee Vivant provides an interesting insight into Burundian culture and the market is worth a visit. A few miles south of the capital is the Livingstone-Stanley Monument at Mugere.