Burundi Tourism

by Jess Cropsey

Since we first arrived in Burundi (almost a year ago!!), we have tried to keep our flow of visitors to a minimum in order to more deeply invest in Kirundi language study, relationships with Burundians, and the myriad of tasks associated with moving to a new place in a foreign land.  Now that our "visitor moratorium" has ended, we are looking forward to welcoming some special visitors over the coming months, including some family.  Of course, people want to spend time at the hospital and see the work that's going on there, but it's also nice to sneak in some fun trips.  The question is -- what is there to see and do in one of the poorest countries in the world?  Due to Burundi's dense population and its political crises, there are no large game reserves to attract tourists (like Kenya or Tanzania) or world-famous gorillas (like Rwanda).  However, we have been pleasantly surprised by some quaint little spots that we have discovered, and most of them all within a 45-minute drive of Kibuye!

1)  Karera Falls - this is a great little park that has several different waterfalls.  Chances are high that you'll be the only ones there and walking sticks are included in the nominal entrance fee.  :)  Our team took a trip here in December and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch after our hike.

2)  (Southern-most) Source of the Nile...believe it or not, is in Burundi!  It was discovered by a German explorer, Burkhart Waldecker, in the 1930s.  The pyramid shown below (since his quest for the source began in Egypt) was erected at the top of the hill from which the spring flows, which also happens to be located on the Congo-Nile Continental Divide.

They've done a nice job making this site friendly to tourists, without being over-the-top touristy (which I'm pretty sure is impossible to find in Burundi).  There are some beautiful concrete & stone picnic tables and nice gazebos for relaxing, enjoying the view, picnicking, and/or shooting footage for Star Wars VII.  

3)  Hot Springs - We were told about this place while we were visiting the Source of the Nile.  Literally, you drive for about 15 minutes until the road comes to a dead end.  That's how you know you're at your destination.  It's amazing how this gorgeous spot with several different warm pools still seems so untouched, natural, and wild.  We're hoping that the water was warm enough to kill any unfriendly, microscopic creatures that might have been living in the water.  There was a Burundian soaking in there with us (see if you can find him), so hopefully that means it was okay to get in!  I imagine that there was a place very much like this in the Garden of Eden.  

4)  Of course, there are also many local trails to be explored nearby and what better way to do that than on a "piki"!

5)  Kibuye Rock is a must-see for any Kibuye visitor.  The 20-30 minute walk uphill from the hospital offers a lovely view of the hospital grounds and some cool big rocks to play on, in addition to an almost-guaranteed tour group of 20+ Burundian children.    

6)  A little further away, near Bujumbura (Burundi's capital) is beautiful Lake Tanganyika, the longest and second deepest lake in the world.  The views are spectacular, but beware of crocs, hippos, and schistosomiasis (also known as "schisto", which is now part of Sammy's vocabulary).

So, the next time that you happen to be in our neck of the woods, we'd love to show you around and hopefully over the years we'll discover many other charming little spots in this beautiful country!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved learning more about your neck of the woods and seeing the beauty of Burundi!
Joan L.