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Bujumbura

Photo © JTom

Travel Guide Africa Burundi Bujumbura

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Introduction

Burundi Child

Burundi Child

© All Rights Reserved JJMVT

Bujumbura is the capital and largest city in Burundi. It has a total population of about half a million people. The city is located at the northeastern corner of Lake Tanganyika and functions as the administrative, industrial and economic heart of the country. The city has become much more relaxed since the rebels and the government are living along in relative peace again, although very recently there was again some shooting by a rebel group which did not join this peace pact. It is not really unsafe for travellers though and the city has an attractive colonial centre, markets and both a cathedral and mosque and nearby is the Livingstone-Stanley Monument.

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Sights and Activities

  • Colonial centre
  • Markets
  • Burundi Museum of Life
  • Burundi Geological Museum
  • Nearby Livingstone-Stanley Monument
  • Saga Beach offers beach life on Lake Tanganyika.

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Weather

Bujumbura has a tropical climate with generally hot and humid conditions. Daytime temperatures average 30 °C while nights are around 20 °C. December to February is the hottest time and also fairly dry, just like the slightly cooler and dry time from June to September. April is generally one of the wettest months.

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Getting There

By Plane

Aéroport International de Bujumbura (BJM) is where the international flights arrive and depart. It is located near the capital Bujumbura and international destinations include Brussels with Brussels Airlines, Addis Ababa and Entebbe with Ethiopian Airlines, Nairobi with Kenya Airways and Kigali with RwandAir.

Air Burundi serves Kigali and Entebbe, as well as Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Fly540 serves Mwanza and Nairobi, while Interlink Airlines flies to Jeddah. It's better and often cheaper to fly to nearby Rwanda or other countries like Tanzania.

By Bus

Several bus companies (e.g. Belvedere, New Yahoo) offer transfers between Bujumbura and Kigali in Rwanda. The journey from Kigali takes about 6 hours (including border formalities) and costs RWF6,000. Note that if you pick up a bus from Huye (aka Butare) in southern Rwanda, then you will pay the same fare as if you were coming from Kigali. There are also buses on a bad road between Bujumbura and Cyangugu (Lake Kivu).

To and from Tanzania, there are also a number of options to cross borders. To head into western Tanzania, there is a Buragane minibus - their office in Bujumbura is on Rue Science, just west of the junction with Boulevard Lumumba. The departure time is at 7:00am and it costs BIF8,000. It takes about 3.5 hours to reach Burundi immigration, where you'll spend maybe 30 minutes, then another hour to reach Tanzania immigration, where it terminates. Minibuses can then be picked up from here to Kigoma.

By Boat

There used to be boat connections between Bujumbura, Kigoma (Tanzania) and Zambia, but ask around if these are still available.

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Getting Around

Taxis are cruising all over town; you need to negotiate the price with them. In town, during the day, a cheaper option is a moto-taxi, but these were recently banned from the city centre for safety reasons. Burundians typically rely on the many mini-buses. 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.

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.

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Eat

The people in Bujumbura love their food and enjoy eating out with friends or family. A beef or fish brochette, chips or fried plantain and a fresh salad is available in all restaurants. But take your time. All food is freshly prepared and the cooks take time. Waiting an hour before the food arrives is certainly not abnormal.

Restaurants are scattered all over town, but the best are located in Rohero and Kiriri.

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Drink

Several bars are located on Avenue de l'Universite (between Bld de l'Independence and Blv Mao Tse Tung).

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).

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Sleep

Bujumbura accommodation can be broadly split into the northern beach resorts and the city centre. The city centre can be further split into places near the lake, the city centre proper and up in the hills behind the city centre.

Budget

The cheapest accommodation appears to be next to Patisserie Trianon on Avenue du Commerce (go through the arch above which is written Ceprodilic).

Mid-Range

  • Saga Residence, at the junction of Chaussee Prince Rwagasore and Blvd Lumumba, is a reasonable option, offering en suite double rooms (with no fan or aircon, and only cold water). Internet access is free and there is a restaurant but the service is very slow.
  • You could also try the Pacific Hotel (on Avenue des Palmiers).
  • Others include Hotel Botanika, Hotel Residence Ubuntu, Residence St Rose and the Novotel.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

as well as Hien (6%), hasbeen (2%)

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This is version 9. Last edited at 7:49 on May 24, 17 by Utrecht. 15 articles link to this page.

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