BujumburaBurundi. It is on the north-eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world after Lake Baikal.
Bujumbura features a tropical savanna climate (Aw), with distinct wet season from October to April and dry season from May to September. Average temperature is , constant among the year. Bujumbura is much hotter than other part of the country due to it low altitude: . Bujumbura has 147 rainy days per year and records of rainfalls annually, less than other parts of the country.
Wind blows from Lake Tanganyika during the day and stops in the evening.
Visa on arrival is not possible without a special “entry permit” letter prior delivered by the Boundary Police Commissioner General. Visa on arrival is only payable in US dollars: euros are often not accepted, Burundian francs Fbu are not accepted (even is there is ATM in airport). Credit cards are not accepted even if the “Visa” and “MasterCard” acceptance logos are clearly visibles on airport stickers. Customs accepts only recent banknotes.
phone: +257 223 707 (office), +257 223 797 (flight information)address: RN5
- Ethiopian Airlines, from Addis Ababa (ADD) — 1 flight per day — ET807
- Kenya Airways, from Nairobi (NBO) — 2 flights per day — KQ444 and KQ448
- RwandAir, from Kigali (KGL) — 2 flights per day — WB482 and WB483
- Brussels Arilines, from Brussels (BRU) — 1 flight per week, on Sunday — SN451
Taxis are cruising all over town; you need to negotiate the price with them. A of early 2010, rides in the city centre were about 1500-2500 Burundian francs; rides to and from airport can be absurdly expensive (20,000 francs) but there's little you can do about it. In town, during the day, a cheaper option is a moto-taxi costing 500-1000 francs a journey, but these were recently banned from the city centre for safety reasons. Burundians typically rely on the many mini-buses, costing 300 francs to anywhere in city centre in mid-2011, and 600 franc to the suburbs. The price is probably a bit higher today. Minibuses serving the north of the city arrive and depart at the front of the central market (Marché Central), while those heading south use the parking lot in the back of the market near the Interbank head office. The last mini-buses leave around 22:00 as of 2011. It is not advised to walk at night after that; if you need to go anywhere, take a taxi.
To catch a lift in any type of vehicle from the side of the road, hold out your hand with your palm facing upward. This works for taxis, buses, motorcycles, and all sorts of private and commercial vehicles. Mini-bus conductors will honk and use their fingers to show how many seats are available. If the bus is full, they will wave their hand with their palm facing downward. It is not uncommon for private vehicles to pick up foreigners requesting lifts during the daytime. They range from high-end SUVs driven by white-collar workers to flat bed pickup trucks where you must stand up. Payment is generally not expected for hitchhiking short distances, but working-class Burundians regularly give each other money for small favours, so there is no harm in offering.
Musée Vivantphone: +257 22 22 60 82address: 11 Avenue du 13 OctobreSmall “zoo” and natural history museum. Exhibits include fishes from Lake Tanganyika, birds, seven species of snakes, two chimpanzees called “Kita” and “Joy”, a golden monkey, a leopard called “Jango”, three antelope, two slender-snouted crocodiles and six Nile crocodiles. There’s also a traditional Burundian village on the grounds. For about 5,000 Fbu (2014) per person, a guide will show you around. The guide can even get some snakes out of the cage to let you hold them or feed them with guinea pigs. You can also feed chimpanzees with rice and Carnivores with guinea pigs or rabbits. Hold the hand of a chimpanzee, have a snake on harm and enter in cage of “Lacoste” Nile crocodile is also part of the attraction.
Sometimes, local cultural events occur on the grounds, such as performances by the Burundian drummers.
Rusizi National Parkaddress: RN4, Chaussée d'UviraSee 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. For about 3,000 Fbu per person (plus tip), 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 Monumentaddress: village of Mugere, about south of Bujumbura on RN3It's not the spot where Stanley said “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”, but it has a gorgeous view of the lake. Livingstone and Stanley passed through the area and carved their names on a large rock.
- Go for scenic drives (security permitting!) for spectacular views from the hills of Bujumbura Rurale to the east of town or along Lake Tanganyika to the south of town. Find a place to enjoy banana beer or maybe a Fanta and chit-chat with shopkeepers.
Cathédrale Regina Mundi de Bujumburaaddress: Boulevard Patrick Lumumba, Rohero
Monument de l’Unité Nationaladdress: Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore
Mausolée du Prince Louis Rwagasoreaddress: Chaussée Prince Louis RwagasoreMausoleum in memory of Burundi's national and independence hero. The place where Burundian Independence Day is celebrated annually on 1 July.
Bugaramaaddress: RN1A nice viewpoint on Bujumbura, east of the city. The road RN1 drive you around higher than Bujumbura, at . Eat some brochettes “je m’en fout” (means “I don’t care”).
Karera Beachaddress: Uvira RoadwayNice beach resort.
address: Uvira RoadwayBeach with restaurant, entertainment complex and hotel. Nice place to pass some time.
- Bora Bora Plage is just next to Saga.
Association Burundaise pour la protection des Oiseaux (ABO)A local conservation group that conducts birdwatching tours of Rusizi Park and other areas. Some of their guides speak English.
- Check local flyers for information on Burundian drummer performances, or just be on the look out for a wedding reception taking place somewhere. With help from locals, you can also arrange to visit a drum troupe, get a lesson, and then see a private performance.
- Many activities are organized by the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF), Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore, +257 222351 (City Centre). Extensive monthly film, theatre and music programmes available from their offices. CCF also offers courses in French and Kiswahili (individual and group).
- Ciné Caméo (19 Avenue des Paysans),in the Asiatic quarter screens all the latest blockbusters for about 2000FBu. The only cinema in the country, and a place to enjoy some air conditioning on hot dry season nights.
Several swimming pools 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. Entrance as of late 2011 is 500 FBu regular and 2000 FBu first class.
- Université de Burundi ("Collège") has a large swimming pool with high-dive and a spectacular view of Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika.
- Entente Sportive, Avenue du Stade. Daily open from 07 – 19 hours, FBu 3500 (2014). Old spacious colonial entourage. There are separate pool for children and even 3 m and 5 m high-dives. Length of the pool is 33 metres.
- Hotel Club Lac du Tanganyika, Chaussee D'Uvira (Take route in the direction of the Border with the DRC - Gatumba), +257 250220/221, fax +257 250219, . Daily open until 20:00. FBu 4000 during the week and FBu 10000 during the weekend. Hotel pool, but in the weekends meeting point for the ex-pat community of Bujumbura. Breakfast and lunch served at the poolside. Beach nearby.
- War Memorial at the top end of Ave Belvedere - for great sunset views. The Belvedere and Chez Vaya restaurants are nearby and offer equally good views - although during weekdays they only open at 18:30 - after sunset.
Interbank, as well as Ecobank and Kenya commercial Bank and some others have ATMs in Bujumbura that accept international Master cards and Visa cards, but Interbank charge ~5000 FBu for each transaction. Remember that at Gar du Nord bus station there is only one ATM around which sometimes is out of service, so come prepared.
Most of the things that one needs can be found in one of the stalls in the Central Market. Stiff bargaining is needed to get it for the right price.
Small supermarkets can be found all over town. They normally stock luxury items at a luxury price.
The largest supermarket in town is Dimitri on the little roundabout of Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore and Avenue du Congo. Do not expect too much, but Dimitri has shopping carts!
The Greek owned 'Boucherie Nouvelle' on Avenue du Congo is worth a visit. Always busy, but then it offers a wide variety of meat, cheese and charcuterie. Opposite the butcher you find vendors with exclusive and rare vegetables and in the rainy season wild mushrooms of all kinds. Be prepared for a real hassle and 'persuasive' sales techniques.
- The best place to buy souvenirs is the small curio market on Avenue de Stade.
- Another small curio market is found on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore, opposite Library St. Paul.
Restaurants are scattered all over town, but the best are located in Rohero and Kiriri.
Some restaurants that are worth a visit are:
phone: +257 22 22 67 92, +257 22 22 87 73address: 11 Blvd de l'UpronaSmall, European style, funky dining. Expensive. Great outdoor eating area, inner patio., good for brunch on weekends, has wireless. Popular with business, government and expats, often full. Bring your own bottle.
Le Bouteille d'OrBasic beer garden that serves a local specialty, beef "michopo", deliciously seasoned steamed beef served with little dough cubes.
Le Cayoraddress: Chaussee Prince Louis RwagasoreBusy for lunch. General Burundian dishes, but also Cameroonian food.
Le Plaisiraddress: Avenue de l'AmitiéPopular restaurant serving Burundian dishes. Busy for lunch, especially if you want a table upstairs. Menu items are not always available, so it is best to ask the server what is available. The Sangala fish topped with onions is excellent, and the stewed beef (lunch only) is very reasonably priced.
Oasisphone: +257 22 22 31 16, +257 75 75 31 16 (mobile)address: 14 Blvd de l'Uprona, Rohero I, BP35Greek restaurant and pizza on the main drag in town. Excellent Greek mezze. 15 Greek specialities & 17 kind of pizzas.
Pont MuhaBest Burundian brochettes in the city. If you are hungry have the brochette Hôtelière.
Tropicanaaddress: Chaussée Prince Louis RwagasoreStylish restaurant and internet café. Very good burgers, omelettes, fruit juices and coffee.
La Baguette Magiqueaddress: Boulevard Lumumba PatriceNot a café or restaurant, just a very good bakery. Worth stopping at to stock up on cakes/croissants.
Chez MichelNext to Hotel le Tanganika. Excellent Belgian Bistro with Belgian beers.
phone: +257 79 92 87 41, +257 75 52 13 53address: Blvd 1er Novembre, Peace Corner BldgGood cuisine. Each week a new menu with 3 starters, 3 mains, 3 desserts. The owner is a gentle Belgian woman. They also propose breakfast. The owner opened this restaurant after closing the old Safran.
RoheroAs of June 2016, restaurant Le Safran (38 Ave Kukiko) is closed, since the owner opened the Fleur de Sel in city center (Blvd 1er Novembre).
BBQaddress: Avenue MuyingaInteresting menu and cosy ambiance.
Chez Andreaddress: Chaussée Prince Louis RwagasoreSuper fancy restaurant in a large, decked-out mansion. Service can be slow and disappointing.
Shanghaiaddress: Avenue MuyingaBest Chinese in town. Very fast service (in and out in less than an hour), also open for lunch.
Tandoorphone: +257 79 12 30 00, +257 75 77 70 00address: 22 Avenue de la CultureGood Indian food. Quiet garden.
Le Belvédèrephone: +257 76 66 00 89, +257 79 92 20 89, +257 71 43 70 19address: Avenue BelvédèreDining with a superb view over the city. Also open for lunch. Beef is tender, and they have Asian specialties (Japan, Thai, Vietnam). Expensive.
“Chez Vaya”Traditional Greek kitchen opened in 1989 with panoramic view.
address: Ave BelvédèreOne of the most famous place according Burundians.
Cercle de la Paix de Bujumburaphone: +257 79 40 28 85, +257 79 40 14 89, +257 75 38 60 93address: Avenue de la PlageMaybe the more quiet place of Bujumbura. The food is nothing to impressed with, but the views (on a clear day) on Lake Tanganyika and the mountains of Congo (DRC) are unforgettable. .
Kiboko Grill, Ubuntu residencephone: +257 22 24 40 64, +257 22 24 40 65, +257 22 24 40 66address: 3 Avenue de la PlageNice garden setting in deluxe hotel with rather overpriced food & swimming-pool. The garden also houses several turtles, peacocks, and has some resident Uganda Cranes. Menu features specials meats (“Jambonneau moutarde”, “Texas spare ribs”) and 14 pizzas.
Edenaddress: Ave de la PlageGreat lake views. Best pizzas in Bujumbura, owned and managed by well-known Belgian restaurateur who flies the mozzarella in from Italy.
phone: +257 22 22 44 33address: 1 Avenue de la Plage, BP 109Set in a glorious 1930s Art Deco building and run by a professional Belgian chef Restaurant Tanganyika serves up some of the best food in the city.
Restaurant Hotel La PalmeraieNice hotel with garden/pool side restaurant serving excellent French and international cuisine. Nice wine list, but meals can an be expensive (US$30-40)
KinindoAs of 2016, the Habesha Ethiopian restaurant (Avenue Rukonwe) is closed since the owner moved to Rwanda.
La Cervoise du Gauloisaddress: Rue MutahoOwned by a Quebecer-Burundian couple. Price range is between Havana Club and Botanika. Gourmet hamburgers, steak, ribs, etc. Beer on tap in frosted glasses. WiFi. Ask about film screenings and NHL ice hockey game nights.
phone: +257 22 213 999address: Av. Kunkiko 38At Ave Kunkiko in quartier Rohero II you'll find this quality restaurant with a buffet every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening. The cozy bar with a colourful dance night on Friday has a happy hour between 18:00 and 19:00.
The best known places for a transnight dance are l'Archipel and Havana. L'Archipel can be found at Blv de la Liberté and Havana is on Blv de Uprona (around the corner of the Novotel).
Coeur d'AfriqueOutdoor 'cabaret' features live singing on weekend nights, popular with the college-aged crowd. Probably not wise during the raining season as there is no roof. They usually run out of cold beer early in the evening, but many Burundians prefer their beer warm. Food is available from the calmer place across the street.
Northern beach resorts
phone: +257 22 25 02 20, +257 22 25 02 21, +257 22 25 02 22address: RN4, Chaussee D'Uvira, BP 6573on the lake at US$120 upwards. The Italian owned hotel is popular on the weekends with the expat crowd so a fee of 10.000BFR was introduced for the usage of the pool. Located outside of the city right at the beach. It also has some sporting facilities such as tennis courts.
Karera Beach Hotelon the lake. More of a weekend-getaway than a hotel, chalets on the beach (with kitchenette, TV etc.) start at US$65 per night. Breakfast and other services not included. tel 247818 or mobile 77762185
- Restaurant Tanganyika 1 Avenue de la Plage - has 4 spacious rooms overlooking the garden - recently refurbished with new bathrooms, art deco fixtures, free wifi and air conditioning. A small sandy beach is over the road. Good value at $60 per night including breakfast. The road is a little noisy however.
phone: +257 22 21 47 80address: Avenue du LargeDon't believe the prices quoted on their website, they are long out-of-date. The cheaper $60 rooms are pretty dingy and have no view - better to splash out on a $120 room.
Downtown, city centre
address: Av IndustrialIn the center of town. Wifi, nice little restaurant, and conference rooms. The cheapest rooms have cold showers.
- Hotel Botanika tiny, delightful boutique hotel above Restaurant Botanika - one of the best restaurants in town. Located in city centre, in the vicinity of a lot of bars and nightclubs, so very noisy on weekends. Good food and service and Wi-Fi. Around US$90 per night.
phone: +257 22 25 95 07address: Avenue de L'industrieBasic hotel with air conditioned rooms and wireless internet. The food from the restaurant is excellent.
phone: +257 22222056address: Ave du CafeSimple NGO-style guesthouse in a house with 4 rooms. You share living space and dining table with other guests (mainly Belgian NGO workers on mission to Burundi). Rates includes breakfast, lunch, laundry and wireless. Other numbers are 78880176 or 75800801.
- Water front hotel (approx US$100). The former international Novotel brand and has been privatised after being state-owned for several years. The former first hotel in town, is in desperate need of renovation and has seen a lot better times.
- Hotel de L'Amitie (rooms for US$25 - 50 including breakfast) is on the Avenue de l'Amitie by Blvd l'Uprona. Cheaper rooms come with cold showers. Local restaurant serves awesome fish and chips for 10,000 FBu. There is Wi-Fi in the lobby.
phone: +257 22 27 71 00address: 30 Boulevard de la Tanzanie, PO.6506, Rohero INice hotel with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning in rooms, access to golf course included in price.
Albatros Hoteladdress: Avenune De PleupleDouble room with own bathroom.
Hotel Le Bon Air De Ntahangwaaddress: Boulevard Du PeupleDouble room with own bathroom with breakfast.
Up in the hills
phone: +257 22228231Vaya Hotel The restaurant is 20 years old, shabby and overpriced, but the 4 rooms are good value. It's at the top of the hill near University, far from the centre of town, so it's quieter and cooler. Around US$90 per night.
Village Hotelphone: +257 22244359From US$100 per night. In Rohero. Owned by Interbank Burundi. 28 rooms, all amenities including swimming pool and internet.
phone: +257 22 253972address: Avenue MakambaRoom types: basic, single rooms - double rooms and deluxe room. Facilities: free wireless Internet connection, free swimming pool, a bar-restaurant. Laundry service, free breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom.
phone: +257 22 253972address: Avenue muyingaRoom types: Single rooms/double rooms with or without air-con. Free wireless Internet connection, a restaurant. Laundry service, breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom.
phone: +257 22 27 77 58, +257 22 27 77 59, +257 75 34 34 34, +257 75 26 26 26address: Kiriri hill, Chaussée Prince Louis RwagasoreMost rooms and restaurant with nice view on Bujumbura city and Lake Tanganika, Congo visible on clean atmosphere on the opposite shore. Rooms in new building (40x and 50x) are hotter. Discount negotiable by phone with the manager.
Internet access is best at an expat restaurant with WiFi, especially Café Aroma on Boul. de l'Uprona. For those without their own device, Surf Internet Café (back of Rusca Plaza, Avenue de l'Amitié) has generally fast Internet on good quality computers during the day. In the evening, your best bet in the city centre is Face@Face near the Waterfront Hotel. 3G wireless sticks are available from Econet as of mid-2011, with other carriers planning to offer them soon.
- phone: +257 22 22-61-76address: Boulevard de la Liberté, 9
- phone: +257 22 20 30 00address: 60 Boulevard de l’Uprona
Greecephone: +257 22 42 42532address: P.Ο. Βοx 1660, Bujumbura
United KingdomThere is no UK embassy in Burundi, but there is a liaison office + 257 22 22-32-66. Burundi is covered from the British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. Consular assistance is provided by the Embassy of Belgium.
United Statesphone: +257 22 20-70-00address: Ave des Etats-Unis
- Take Volcano bus to Kobero or Muyinga (from Muyinga it's a short ride to Kobero). The last bus leaves Buja at 11:00 and it's a good idea to buy the ticket in advance. From Kobero take a moto or taxi to the border. In one office you have both customs. From the border walk for ~300 m (or take a moto) to Kabanga and on your right is the yellow and blue coloured Tumani Letu Hotel. Buy the ticket to Mwanza and spend the night in Kabanga. Next day at 05:00 start your long and bumpy ride to Mwanza.