Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, is located on the shores of the magnificent Lake Tanganyika, which is almost the oldest and deepest lake in the world. With an estimated population of 300,000 inhabitants, Bujumbura is the busy administrative, communications and economic centre and Burundi’s main harbour.
The area was colonised by Germany at the end of the 19th century and there is still architecture dating from that period, including the Postmaster’s House. The city centre is a colonial town with a large and colourful market, the national stadium, a mosque and a cathedral. You can also find interesting museums such as the Burundi Museum of Life and the Burundi Geological Museum.
In the surrounding area, don’t forget to visit the Rusizi National Park and a rock at Mugere, which is supposed to be the place where David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley met (although this was thought to have happened in Tanzania) and the source of the southernmost tributary of the Nile, described locally as the source of the Nile.
SLEEP On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, La Palmeraie (Avenue du Large, Bujumbura, lapalmeraie-hotel) has a tropical vibe, thanks to plenty of palm trees, a beautiful swimming pool and views of the lake and surrounding hills of Bujumbura. Or live the good life at Dolce Vita Resort (Kigobe South, hoteldolcevita).
EAT Follow the aroma of coffee and baking to Café Gourmand (192 Avenue de France, www.le-cafegourmand.com). Settle down at a rooftop terrace table and choose from a wide selection of freshly baked pastries, cakes, and gourmet baguettes – all made on-site.
- There is always something interesting going on at the Institut Français du Burundi (Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore 9, www.ifburundi.org). This lovely place hosts a diverse range of cultural events, exhibitions, concerts, movies, and youth programmes that’ll keep your kids entertained for hours.
- A group of Burundi women have formed Amahoro Burundi (Avenue du Large, near Marché de Kinindo, www.amaniafrica.org/burundi-our-story). This collective sells beautifully crafted bags, clothes and jewellery.
- Easily accessible and just 20 minutes from Bujumbura, take a pirogue ride or stroll along the river bank in Rusizi National Park (www.enjoyburundi.info/pure-nature/rusizi-national-park-in-burundi) for hippo-watching, but keep an eye out for the infamous Gustav, a notorious, 6m-long, man-eating crocodile of local lore. Pirogue trips inside the park can be booked at Hotel Club du Lac (www.hoteltanganyika.com).
Bujumbura International Airport is 11km from the city centre. Taxis cost around BIF15,000/€9 into town.