Burundi’s Potential: A Country Poised for Tourism Take-off?

Min Read

Words by Yvonne C Mtengwa

A little-known treasure in the heart of East Africa is Burundi, quietly shimmering with an untouched beauty and vibrant culture that beckons adventurous travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. Often overshadowed by its neighbours, Burundi boasts a captivating blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, making it a country to watch for in the world of travel and tourism.

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An untamed tapestry of natural beauty.  

Burundi’s diverse topography paints a mesmerizing picture, from the emerald expanse of Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, to the lush rainforests of Kibira National Park teeming with chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. The majestic peaks of the Ruhuhu Mountains pierce the sky, offering panoramic vistas and challenging hikes, while the Rusizi River snakes through the landscape, teeming with hippos and crocodiles. 

Light touch on the culture

Beyond the natural wonders, Burundi’s soul lies in its people and their traditions. The rhythm of life pulsates to the beat of the “ingoma” drums, the national symbol, and the air vibrates with the infectious energy of the “imigongo” dance. Delve into the fascinating history of the ancient kingdoms at the Royal Drummers’ Hill and the Mwesi Shrines, where centuries-old rituals whisper tales of the past.

Top Spots in Burundi for the Intrepid Explorer

1. Of course, the capital Bujumbura: What’s a trip to any new country without some time spent in its administrative center. Burundi’s vibrant capital Bujumbura pulsates with life, awarding those with a penchant for discovery, countless opportunities to explore the bustling markets, savour delicious local cuisine, and stroll along the picturesque shores of Lake Tanganyika. A must for tourists is the Burundi National Museum, an informative showcase of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Viewed as the economic center of Burundi, Bujumbura’s manufacturing sector specializes in textiles, leather and paper goods, chemicals, and agricultural products. Bujumbura also serves as the country’s main port on Lake Tanganyika as most of Burundi’s foreign trade is shipped between the capital and Kigoma in the Western region of Tanzania.

2. Somewhere on or near Lake Tanganyika: Embark on a boat cruise across the lake’s turquoise waters, spotting colourful fish and majestic hippos. Visit the Rusizi National Park, a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Where there’s a large body of water, there is always the thrill of adventure or quite rest while enjoying the vast expanse before you. Lake Tanganyika is no exception, with its striking blue waters a haven for sustenance for the millions of inhabitants sharing the lake from Burundi, Zambia, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

3. Kibira and Rusizi National Parks: Replete with abundant flora and fauna, Kibira National Park is situated in northwestern Burundi, overlapping four provinces, and covering 400km2 and lying atop the mountains of the Congo-Nile Divide, stretching further to the border of Rwanda, where boundary lines are shared with Nyungwe National Park. Hike through the verdant rainforest, home to chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and over 600 species of birds, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the natural world.

If it’s a dance with the wild side of the river you are after, book a short canoe ride down the Rusizi River, keeping an eye out for the abundant crocodiles and hippos basking on the banks. A delight for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Rusizi National Parks is yet another pick for outdoor enthusiasts and only a 20-minute drive to the northwest of Bujumbura.

4. Explore the former capital Gitega: Now deemed Burundi’s former capital but still very much the nation’s political base, Gitega exudes a historical charm, is the second largest town in the country, and functions as a centre for religion and education. You can get a quick glimpse into the industrial enterprises in Gitega, which are made up of livestock markets, peat exploitation, and ancillary services hedging on both. In Gitega, you can carve out time delve further into the nation’s history by visiting the National Museum, featuring exhibits on history and art, and the Mwesi Shrines, sacred sites, believed to be dedicated to the spirits of ancient kings.

Are you ready to explore unchartered Burundi?

Burundi’s tourism sector is considered well-poised for significant growth as the government is actively investing in infrastructure development, improving transportation links and accommodation options. Additionally, the country is committed to sustainable tourism practices, ensuring the protection of its natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

While venturing into uncharted or underdeveloped territories comes with inherent challenges, trends of more investment towards responsible tourism practices are emerging and deemed essential to the growth of tourism as a socio-economic contributor. Travellers into Burundi are subtly reminded to remain mindful of the local culture and traditions, respecting the environment, and supporting local businesses whenever possible. By doing so, there is real opportunity to contribute to the sustainable development of Burundi’s tourism industry, ensuring a positive impact on the lives of its people.

Burundi is more than just a destination; it’s an experience. It’s a chance to disconnect from the ordinary and reconnect with the essence of nature, culture, and human connection. So, if you seek an adventure that will leave an indelible mark on your soul, pack your bags, and embark on a journey to the captivating heart of Burundi. Burundi awaits with open arms, ready to unveil its hidden treasures to those who dare to explore. Are you ready to answer the call?



Africa Travel


East Africa

Kibira national Park


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