‘The Switzerland of Africa’

Background information; by edgardowelelo@yahoo.com

A land of colourful diversity, Burundi is characterized by the stunning range of mountains that have earned it the title “The Switzerland of Africa”. Burundi’s unique tourism experiences include sampling fish pulled fresh from the Lake in Bujumbura’s many shoreline restaurants, visit to the nation’s pristine national parks, walking and trekking tours, and the unmissable opportunity of seeing the mighty royal “Drums of Gishora” in full thundering action.


The lifeblood of the nation, Lake Tanganyika is the second largest lake after Lake Baikal in Siberia – Russia. Along its shores are opportunities for water skiing, sailing, fishing, golf and horse riding. The Ruvyironza River, which rises in Bururi province is also believed to be one of the most distant sources of the White Nile.


Ringed by mountains, the ancient wilderness of Ruvubu National Park lies to either side of the hippo – filled Ruvubu River and is the largest of Burundi’s national parks. One of the last remaining tracts of the once great African rainforests, its shaded forests and thick tree canopies provide sanctuary for chimpanzees, baboons and colobus monkeys. An ornithological hotspot of note. Ruvubu’s forest glades ring to the sound of birdsong while its rolling savannah is roamed by antelopes, gazelles and great herds of buffalo. Traversed by network of around 100 km of simple tracks, Ruvubu makes the ideal venue for guided walks, treks or Mountain biking.


A cool, shaded forest realm, the Bururi Reserve is an ancient botanical garden that promises an unprecedented density and diversity of flora ranging from towering hardwoods to luscious ferns. Home to 117 species of birds, it also promises 25 different species of mammals. It is traversed by a network of paths and trails, which often open to breathtaking panoramas, the reserve offers guides and ornithological tours.


In the southeast of Burundi, are the beautiful Karera Falls. Set deep within shady forests, they cascade dramatically over three levels and offer the ideal venue for walks and picnics. Burundi also abounds in thermal springs, which are especially concentrated in the south of the country. Most famous are the thermal springs of Muhweza and Muyange, which nestle in the lee of beautiful mount Bibimbi.


Burundi’s second city, Gitega, is famous for its Royal Drummers, the Gishora Drums; also for its national museum, which offers a display of the regalia of the Burundian Kings. High on a hill, just 7 km from Gitega is Gishora, home to the famous Gishora drums. Established by King Ntare Rugamba some forty years ago, the drummers are originally performed at coronations, funerals and to herald the changing of the seasons. Today, drumming remains central to the Burundian cultural heritage.


The Kibira National Park, twin – Sister to Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, was once the hunting ground of the Kings of Burundi and is still considered to have mystical significance. Standing atop the Congo – Nile divide, it is blanketed in ancient forest that shelter 644 rare plant species and a number of primate species including Chimpanzees and black – and – white colobus monkeys.


On the borders of the Kibira National Park, set against the dramatic backdrop of the distant mountains, lie the vast tea plantations of Teza and Rwegura, flung like iridescent green quilts across the land. Here, visitors can learn how tea is grown and perhaps sample one of the freshest cups of tea they will ever have experienced.


Hot, sultry and buzzing, Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, stands on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and offers a wide range of accommodation, retail and leisure options. Bujumbura also offers the Burundi National Museum and Geological Museum and the Hill top Belvedere Mausoleum of Independence hero, Prince Louis Rwegasore


Ten Kilometers south of Bujumbura is the small town of Mugere and the Livingstone – Stanley Monument. A large rock, it marks the spot where British explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, and journalist and explorer, Henry Morton Stanley spent two nights in November 1871. The two men had actually met fifteen days earlier in Ujiji, Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika), prompting Stanley to utter his now famous question, “Dr. Livingstone I presume?”


  • Name: The Republic of Burundi (Republika Y’ Uburundi)
  • Cities: Capital, Bujumbura, second city, Gitega
  • Size / Area: 27,830 Sq. km
  • Borders: Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • Climate: Tropical Highland
  • Language: Kirundi (Official), French (Official) and Kiswahili
  • Currency: Burundian Franc
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