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Written by Savi, One Comment

Let’s travel to the heart of Africa shall we? This year we decided to visit the tiny country of Burundi and let me tell you it is quite a hidden gem – just waiting to be discovered by adventurous travellers seeking authentic cultural experiences and breathtaking natural beauty. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi has history, vibrant traditions, and stunning landscapes that make it a truly worth-while destination.

burundi landscape
Lush greenery everywhere

5 Things to do before visiting Burundi

  • Make sure you speak to your GP and take Chlorophyll tablets to guard your body against Malaria. We also have Yellow Fever vaccination certificates, but weren’t asked on arrival.
  • Fill the arrival form on this website! Burundi offers an easy evisa/visa on arrival for Indian citizens (you must fill information here before flying into Burundi. Visa costs USD 40 for 3 nights) and citizens of most other countries. However you must fill this form before arriving. Also make sure you have US dollars to pay the visa fee as there is no ATM at the visa issuing section of the airport. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to carry some extra US dollars while travelling in Africa. The local currency is Burundian Franc (BIF). 1 INR = roughly 35 BIF (Jan 24)
  • We suggest combining this trip with a few days in Rwanda or Uganda – both connected via convenient flights to India! Bujumbura (Burundi) is a short direct flight away from both these countries! We suggest comparing prices and booking here.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet! Before we visited, we got the feeling that Burundi might be unsafe or unwelcoming. But it was the exact opposite – we met the nicest people and had the best time!
  • Having said that, we would suggest booking a tour to explore the country with a local operator instead of renting a car and exploring independently. This is because of 2 reasons – French is the official language. English isn’t widely spoken or understood. Additionally, locals in the countryside are not used to seeing many tourists. We booked a 3 day trip with Gisabo Tours – including pick-up and drop-off at the airport – on the recommendation of a friend! And I have to say, I cannot recommend them enough. The small company is run by young, passionate Burundians and over the course of the 3 days they went from being guides to friends. They introduced us to some of the best locations in Burundi, helped us experience cool cafes in Burundi, took us to local hide-outs, made us try local dishes, and we ended up having so much fun together. You can also contact Audace on Whatsapp on this number (+257 79 74 46 10)  if you’re going to Burundi. Of course, you can pick and choose from the things to do in Burundi (more information on it down below) but 2 things you must include in your itinerary – Gishora drummers and visiting the tea plantations of Burundi
What a fun bunch at Gisabo tours – left Burundi with so many new friends 🙂
uganda airlines direct flight entebbe to bujumbura
Direct flights operate from both Entebbe (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda)

Where to stay in Burundi

We suggest basing yourself in Bujumbura to explore the country. It makes for a good base! However please take hotel ratings and photographs with a pinch of salt! We ended up in a hotel that we did not enjoy at all but upon talking to our guides, we found 2 good hotels – both of which we would recommend. Kiriri Garden Hotel is a luxurious option but it tends to be overpriced or sold out during peak times! In that case we would also recommend Hotel Club Du Lac Tanganyika, which boasts of a beachfront – again, booking in advance is suggested as we couldn’t find availability in either of these hotels due to the last minute nature of our trip!

If you choose to stay in Gitega, Isango Hotel is a decent option! The food here is really good – we stopped here for lunch and took a look at the rooms while we were there. You can always get in touch with the folks at Gisabo Tours and they can suggest and arrange accommodation for you.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, here are 5 reasons you must consider visiting Burundi

Cool art and coffee scene in Bujumbura

1. Going off-the-beaten path is exciting

As many of you travel lovers will know, it has become increasingly difficult to seek authentic cultural travel experiences in today’s day and age! But Burundi provides a fascinating glimpse into East African heritage. You can immerse yourself in the beats of a traditional drumming ceremony, witness vibrant dance performances, and engage with local artisans producing intricate crafts.

And if you’re a nature lover, you will enjoy Burundi’s natural wonders – from the tranquil shores of Lake Tanganyika, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, to the lush greenery of Kibira National Park, home to an array of wildlife, including chimpanzees and rare birds. If time permits, you should also visit the gorgeous Karera falls.

landscapes on a day trip from Bujumbura

      2. The people and food!

No matter where we went in the country, we were greeted with such warmth in Burundi! The country’s people are known for their hospitality and resilience in the face of adversity and you will definitely feel like a cherished guest. Whether you end up sharing a meal with a local family or conversing with a fishermen on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, visitors to Burundi are embraced with open arms and genuine kindness.

But that’s not all! The country has some of the best fruit in the world – including the sweetest pineapples! If you enjoy trying local food, then you must try Burundi’s flavourful local cuisine. One must-try dish is Brochettes – skewers of grilled meat often served with spicy sauce – offering a delicious taste of Burundian street food. Another is Isombe a hearty stew made from cassava leaves, often cooked with ground peanuts and served with plantains or rice. Ubugali – a staple food made from maize flour is typically served alongside various meat or vegetable dishes. We tried each of these and really enjoyed getting to know African spices and flavours better!

Could fly back JUST for the amazing fruit. OMG so Yum!

3. Visiting Gishora for Drummers: An unforgettable experience

If there is one thing that will be the highlight of your trip, it is this! Visit Gishora, a small village located in the southern province of Bururi, renowned for its vibrant drumming tradition. For centuries, drumming has played a central role in Burundian culture and it is considered sacred in the country.

At Gishora, we had the opportunity to witness a mesmerising drumming performance by the Royal drummers of Burundi who have inherited the ancient techniques passed down through generations. The rhythmic beats of the drums will transport you to another realm altogether!

The Gishora Drum Sanctuary is a a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we highly recommend visiting it. It makes for an unforgettable experience!

What an exhilarating experience
One of our favourite cultural experiences from all our travels
What FUN

4. Exploring Kibira National Park & the tea plantations of Burundi

We went to Burundi expecting cultural richness but we did not expect to see lush green tea plantations, similar to the ones we’ve seen in Kerala or Sri Lanka! Nestled amidst the rolling hills of the country’s countryside, the tea estates of Burundi offer a captivating glimpse into the art of tea cultivation and production. You can opt for a guided tour or just explore the plantations on your own. These also make the perfect backdrop for some really nice photographs. We visited the Teza tea plantation, and would highly recommend going there for some beautiful scenes.

Seemingly unending tea plantations – what a sight!

5. Urban life and café culture

One of the reasons we wanted to visit Burundi is that in recent years, it has emerged as an unexpected hub for third-wave cafes and specialty coffee enthusiasts. The country has become renowned for producing high-quality Arabica beans – if you’re a coffee lover we suggest visiting third-wave cafes such as Buja Cafe in Bujumbura to sample Burundi’s coffee! You can mull over the nuances of specialty coffee and also immerse yourself in the local art scene at this bohemian space in the capital

Happy customer at Buja cafe 😉

And that’s it – I hope we’ve persuaded you to travel to Burundi – a truly immersive and enriching experience for those seeking to discover the hidden treasures of Africa. From its vibrant cultural heritage to its natural landscapes, Burundi will leave the traveller in you fully satisfied and you will come back from the country with so many stories to tell.

So long, Burundi! You were a revelation

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