Author: Irina Darovko
Burundi is a country in East Africa with an equatorial humid climate, rich in national parks and reserves. There is something for lovers of history and nature, as well as extreme tourists.
Who travels to Burundi and why
The Republic of Burundi will be of interest to lovers of untouched nature — the country is rich in nature reserves and virgin forests. Parks with chimpanzees and tropical birds, as well as lake beaches, thermal waterfalls and tea plantations — it is worth getting to know the local nature reserves better.
In the river deltas, you can see hippos, antelopes and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Swimming in thermal springs will be useful for people with joint diseases.
Burundi is located in the center of the continent, therefore it does not have its own access to the sea. This is compensated by the presence of a beautiful clear lake Tanganyika. Its underwater world can be viewed even from a boat. Diving, beach holidays, animal watching, walks in nature reserves, acquaintance with the culture, history and architecture of the country — Burundi knows what to offer the most demanding traveler.
The park is located near the capital, in the river delta. Antelopes, hippos and crocodiles live on 500 hectares of fertile soil. Palm groves, milkweed and thorn bushes, as well as ponds of natural origin coexist in the valley. The Rusisi Delta is a paradise for birds that flock here in hundreds and feed on underwater fishing.
Bururi Forest Reserve
The 3,000-hectare rainforest is home to 117 bird species and 25 mammal species. You can visit the reserve with a guide or as part of an excursion group. The route for the tourist is built in such a way as to cover beautiful panoramas, picturesque lakes, botanical trails and animal habitats.
Kibira National Park
The largest green zone in Burundi is located on the top of the Zaire Nile mountain. More than 40 hectares of untouched forests are inhabited by baboons, chimpanzees and tropical birds. The park is entangled in a 180-kilometer network of trails and paths that are used by tourist groups. Mountain ranges hide thermal springs. You can get to the park through the Teza and Rwegura tea plantations, which offer some of the best natural scenery.
Reserves of Rumonge, Kigwena and Mugara
These natural parks are just developing, but are already open to visitors. Chimpanzees and cercopithecines live here in their natural environment. In the Mugara Reserve, thermal springs gush out of the ground — the springs are located on a hill, descending into a lowland with natural waterfalls. You can enjoy a thermal massage while standing under the jets of water. Nearby are the clean beaches of Lake Tanganyika.
Ruvubu National Park
The reserve is located on the banks of the river of the same name and is bounded by high mountains. The tourist route, about 100 km long, includes many viewing platforms. Travelers here are offered to settle in a new camp, and then track down buffaloes, following them along the trails, sit by the fire in the evenings and listen to birdsong at dawn.
Lake Rvihinda Nature Reserve
Temporary home for migratory water birds. Thousands of herons, cranes and ducks nest on the islands of this lake and breed. Birds are not afraid of people slowly floating across the lake on rafts and boats. Vivid impressions and beautiful photos are provided.
Waterfalls and springs Burundi
The hot springs
The most visited thermal springs in Burundi are Mugara Bururi and Muhveza Rutana. The first includes two hot springs that fill a natural pool at 48°C. The second place is not one, but many springs spouting from the ground, which pour into two large fonts. One is traditionally for men, the other for women.
A magnificent cascading waterfall 80 meters high with 4–5 main sections is formed by the Karera River, which flows in a protected nature reserve. The waterfall ends with a small lake. Many traditions of the people of Burundi are associated with this cascade. Kings, ascending the throne, performed a sacred bath in its waters in a cave with a font. Not so long ago, this natural wonder was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and now the waterfall is protected by law.
An impressive gorge with cliffs several hundred meters high has its own zest. On the site of a German military fortification from the First World War, there is now a waterfall dropping its waters from a height of more than 100 meters.
In the 19th century, the Germans occupied Burundi, making the country a German colony. From the beginning of the twentieth century, it was transferred to Belgium, and only in 1962 became an independent republic. The long presence of the Basques also had a great influence on the culture, architecture and traditions of the country.
City of Gitega
Gitega is a kind of cultural center of the republic with many educational institutions. Here is the royal palace — a monumental building of modern architecture interspersed with ethnic details. Also in Gitega is the Ibwami Royal Court and the Republican Museum.
The Museum of the Republic is rich in ethnographic exhibits that will acquaint tourists with the history and customs of the country. The main asset of the museum is the collection of royal drums. In the era of the monarchy, drums were a sacred symbol of Burundi and an obligatory attribute of the rulers.
One of the main sanctuaries of the royal drums is located in the suburb of Gitegi — in the village of Gishora. The priceless tools are guarded by an ancient family of local residents, which has become an attraction in itself. They regularly take care of the drums for centuries, and sometimes play them for tourists.
National Museum of Nature (Musée vivant)
The museum is located in the extensive park of the Commune of Roero and includes both natural and artificial attractions. Here live crocodiles from Lake Tanganyika and the Rusisi River, various types of snakes (banana-green snakes, vipers from Gabon, cobras, boomslangs, pythons). Visitors can watch rare species of fish, birds, antelopes and turtles, leopards and chimpanzees.
In addition to animals in the museum, visitors will get acquainted with the works of talented local artists, traditional instruments of the people of Burundi and photographs of members of the royal family.