Burundi (BI)

  • Land Burundi
  • Continent: Africa
  • Area: 27,830 km²
  • Population: 8,749,000
  • Capital city: Bujumbura
  • ISO code: BI
  • National language: Kirundi, French
  • International dialing code: +257
  • Currency: Burundi Franc
  • License plate number: RU
  • Alternative spelling: République du Burundi (frz.), Burúndi
  • Flight routes from Burundi: 213
  • Flight routes to Burundi: 241
  • Popular airports: Bujumbura (BJM)
  • Large cities: Bujumbura, Muyinga, Ruyigi, Gitega, Ngozi, Rutana, Bururi, Makamba, Kayanza, Muramvya, Cibitoke, Bubanza, Karuzi, Cankuzo, Kirundo

Burundi travel guide (Africa)

The Republic of Burundi is one of the smallest countries on the African continent and is in eastern central Africa on the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The country shares borders with Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Burundi is on the African Great Rift Valley between Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika and is crossed by a plateau 1,800 m (5,905 ft) in altitude, which slowly rises to reach an altitude of 2,700 m (8,858 ft). This plateau so distinctive of the Great Rift Valley falls sharply and steeply towards the east to the filled rift of Lake Tanganyika.

Mountains and rivers:
the highest point in Burundi is Mount Heha with an altitude of 2,670 m (8759 ft) in the Mitumba Mountains, which run parallel to Lake Tanganyika. The longest river in the country is the headstream Luvironza, Ruvubu, Ruvusu, Akagera. This headstream has its source in the south of the Republic and is one of the headstreams of the 6,671 km (4145 miles) long Nile. The longest river to be found exclusively in the country is the Ruzizi 104 km (64 miles) in length. This originates in Lake Kiwu and flows into Lake Tanganyika.

Climate and best time to visit
: in tropical Burundi there are two rainy seasons: one between October and December and another from February to May. Temperatures vary according to altitude. The air humidity in Burundi is very high and is only more bearable in the higher lying regions. The best time to visit Burundi is therefore during the long dry period from May to October, as there is also less danger of contracting malaria at this time.

Language and communication
: the official and national languages are Kirundi and French. A little English and Swahili are also understood in most areas.

Health and vaccinations:
vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. All travellers are required to show a valid yellow fever certificate on entry, as the danger of contracting the disease is extremely high in Burundi. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is a year round danger of contracting malaria in Burundi. Please seek advice from your GP on effective anti-malaria medication. Medical care is almost always sufficient in larger cities and tourist resorts. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. Milk is not pasteurised in Burundi and should therefore always be boiled, and milk products avoided during the visit. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten.

Entry requirements
: Visas are needed to enter Burundi; these may be obtained on arrival. For further information contact the Burundi Embassy in Brussels. More information on vaccination and entry requirements as well as current security issues is posted on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website.

Arrival and onward journey:
there are no non-stop flights from Europe to the international airport in Bujumbura (BJM). Kenya Airways (KQ) fly from London-Heathrow (LHR) or Amsterdam (AMS) via Nairobi (NBO).

Capital city: the capital and harbour city Bujumbura is on the north eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika on a hillside and has about 320,000 inhabitants. It is the biggest city in this small country and also its economic and cultural centre. In this former German colonial city, the wonderful colonial facades of a few administrative buildings are worth seeing, such as the house of the postmaster. There are also three museums, an Islamic cultural centre and the daily market selling regional produce. The palm fringed Lake Tanganyika offers visitors a good choice of water sports.

Places of interest and beaches: Burundi is in the heart of Africa and has a wonderful countryside to explore. Due to the pleasant cooler climate on the plateaus it is also often called the Switzerland of Africa.

For nature lovers the national parks of Kibira, Ruvubu and Ruzizi are to be recommended. Here different species of monkey, buffalos, hippopotamuses, antelopes, crocodiles, zebras and lions and leopards may be watched. Ornithologists tend to head for the lakes of Rwihinda, Kacamirinda and Kanzigiri where a large number of endemic birds can be watched and studied.

The main attraction for most visitors to Burundi is Lake Tanganyika, which, after Lake Baikal in central Asia, is the second deepest lake on earth. It is in the western part of "Great Rift Valley" and is bordered in the west by the central African swell. The four countries Congo, Tanzania, Zambia and Burundi share the lake. The Congo has 45% and Tanzania 41 % of the lakes area. The best part in Burundi, perfect for swimming in the dry season, is 6 km north of Bujumbura: the white beach of Saga. This is also where most of the hotels of Burundi are to be found; these are normally booked out especially at weekends.

The ancient royal towns of Muramvya and Gitega are further attractions in Burundi as are the hot springs of Muhweza.

more than 70 % of the population are Christians. 10 % are of the Muslim faith and 20 % are believers in the natural religions.

Major Cities and accommodation:
Bujumbura, Gitega, Muyinga, Ngozi, Ruyigi, Kayanza, Bururi and Rutana.