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Bujumbura

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Africa : East Africa : Burundi : Bujumbura
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Bujumbura is the largest city and capital of Burundi.

Get in[edit]

You can get in via airport, which is close to the city. Visa rules and prices change frequently. As of November 2011 two different visas are available on arrival (both at the airport and land borders) - a one month, multiple entry visa costs US$90, a 3 day (2 night) transit visa is $40. Visas can be obtained from embassies prior to travel.

Get around town[edit]

Taxis are cruising all over town; you need to negotiate the price with them before the ride. As of early 2014, rides within downtown were about 2000-3000 Burundian francs; ride from downtown to the beach clubs bora bora, club du lac, saga beach are 7000 BIF; rides to and from airport can be absurdly expensive (20,000 francs) but there's little you can do about it. In town, during the day, a cheaper option is a moto-taxi costing 500-1000 francs a journey, but these were recently banned from the city centre for safety reasons. Burundians typically rely on the many mini-buses, costing 300 francs to anywhere in city centre in mid-2011, and 600 franc to the suburbs. The price is probably a bit higher today. 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. The last mini-buses leave around 10PM as of 2011. 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.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Musee Vivant, rue du 13 Octobre (heading west, just before Lake Tanganyika). Small zoo and natural history museum. Exhibits include a chimpanzee fish from Lake Tanganyika, crocodiles, birds, and snakes. There’s also a traditional Burundian village on the grounds. For about 2,000 BFU per person, a guide will show you around. For extra money they will feed the cocodiles and snakes live rabbits and Guinea pigs. Sometimes, local cultural events occur on the grounds, such as performances by the Burundian drummers.  edit
  • Rusizi National Park, RN 4 (a few miles past Club du Lac, nearly at the Congo border). See hippos and crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Rusizi River. The area is also where Gustave, the world's largest Nile crocodile, has been spotted. There are also some amazing birds to be seen. For about 3,000 BIF per person (plus tip), a guide and a guard will join you in the car and give you a tour of the park. You’ll stop at several points along the water to view hippos, crocodiles, and birds. For 100000 BIF you can have a boat tour for up to 8 people lasting 30 to 45 Minutes. This will get you even closer to hippos, crocodiles, birds and out to lake tangianyka. Best time is the morning time from 0730h.  edit
  • Livingstone-Stanley Monument (La Pierre du Livingstone et Stanley), village of Mugere, about 12km south of Bujumbura on RN3. It's not the spot where Stanley said "Dr. Livingstone, I presume," but it has a gorgeous view of the lake. Livingstone and Stanley passed through the area and a monument has later been raised.  edit
  • Go for scenic drives (security permitting!) for spectacular views from the hills of Bujumbura Rurale to the east of town or along Lake Tanganyika to the south of town. Find a place to enjoy banana beer or maybe a Fanta and chit-chat with store keepers.

Do[edit][add listing]

Beach[edit]

  • Karera Beach, Uvira Roadway (on Lake Tanganyika about 20 min of town). Nice beach resort.  edit
  • Saga Plage, Uvira Roadway (on Lake Tanganyika about 20 min of town), [1]. Beach with restaurant, entertainment complex, and hotel. Nice place to pass some time.  edit

Nature[edit]

  • Association Burundaise pour la protection des Oiseaux (ABO), [2]. A local conservation group that conducts birdwatching tours of Rusizi Park and other areas. Some of their guides speak English.  edit

Culture[edit]

  • Check local flyers for information on Burundian drummer performances, or just be on the look out for a wedding reception taking place somewhere. With help from locals, you can also arrange to visit a drum troupe, get a lesson, and then see a private performance.
  • Many activities are organized by the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF), Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore, +257 222351 (City Center). Extensive monthly film, theater and music program available from their offices. CCF also offers courses in French and Kiswahili (individual and group).
  • Ciné Caméo (19 Avenue des Paysans),in the Asiatic quarter screens all the latest blockbusters for about 2000FBu. The only cinema in the country, and a place to enjoy some air conditioning on hot dry season nights.

Sports[edit]

Several swimming pools available for who wants to cool down from the hot days.

  • Federation Football (soccer) games at the Stade in Rohero are at 2PM and 4PM on Saturdays. Entrance as of late 2011 is 500 FBu regular and 2000 FBu first class.
  • Université de Burundi ("Collège") has a large swimming pool with high-dive and a spectacular view of Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika.
  • Entente Sportive, Av du Stade. Daily open from 07 - 19 hours, FBu 3500 (Aug. 2008). Old colonial entourage. Length of the pool 33 meters!
  • Hotel Club Lac du Tanganyika, Chaussee D'Uvira (Take route in the direction of the Border with the DRC - Gatumba), +257 250220/221, fax +257 250219, [3]. Daily open till 20 hours. FBu 4000 during the week and FBu 10000 during the weekend. Hotel pool, but in the weekends meeting point for the ex-pat community of Bujumbura. Breakfast and lunch served at the poolside. Beach nearby.

Viewpoints[edit]

  • War Memorial* at the top end of Ave Belvedere - for great sunset views. The Belvedere and Chez Vaya restaurants are nearby and offer equally good views - although during weekdays they only open at 6.30PM - after sunset.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Interbank has several ATMs in Bujumbura that accept international VISA debit cards but they charge 5000 FBu for each transaction. When changing money at a forex bureau or on the street, be aware that only US dollar bills dated Series 2006 or newer will be accepted.

Groceries[edit]

Most of the things that one needs can be found in one of the stalls in the Central Market. Stiff bargaining is needed to get it for the right price.

Small supermarkets can be found all over town. They normally stock luxury items at a luxury price.

The largest supermarket in town is Dimitri on the little roundabout of Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore and Av du Congo. Do not expect too much, but Dimitri has shopping carts!

The Greek owned 'Boucherie Nouvelle' on Av du Congo is worth a visit. Always busy, but then it offers a wide variety of meat, cheese and charcuterie. Opposite the shop you find vendors with exclusive and rare vegetables and in the rainy season wild mushrooms of all kinds. Be prepared for a repetitive approach and attention engaging you in persuasive sales techniques.

Souvenirs[edit]

  • The best place to buy souvenirs is the small curio market on Av de Stade.
  • Another small curio market is found on Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagazore, opposite Library St. Paul.

Eat[edit][add listing]

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.

Some restaurants that are worth a visit are:


  • Dynasty Chinese Restaurant. Ask the taxi driver. It is located on a residential street. The food is amazing. The best Chinese restaurant in East Africa, comparable to the Chinese food I get in NYC and in China (I am Chinese, so trust me!)  edit

Centre[edit]

  • Botanika Small, European style dining. Expensive. Great outdoor eating area, good for brunch on weekends, has wireless. Popular with business, government and expats, often full.
  • Bujacafe Best coffee and croissant in town, located in a beautiful quiet garden, they also offer cakes, juices and basic fastfood.
  • Le Bouteille d'Or (near center of town, ask a taxi driver, or a local). Basic beer garden that serves a local specialty, beef "michopo", deliciously seasoned steamed beef served with little dough cubes.
  • Le Cayor, Chaussee Prince Louis Rwagasore (Opposite Centre Culturel Français). Busy for lunch. General Burundian dishes, but also Cameroonian food.
  • Le Cafe Gourmand Very popular french bakery opposite to Dimitri supermarket - Finest patisserie (cakes, tartlettes, croissants, brownies), coffee, fresh juices, salads, sandwiches, panini, great view of the city from the terrace.
  • Le Plaisir Avenue de l'Amitié beside Radio Isanganiro. Popular restaurant serving Burundian dishes. Busy for lunch, especially if you want a table upstairs. Menu items are not always available, so it is best to ask the server what is available. The Sangala fish topped with onions is excellent, and the stewed beef (lunch only) is very reasonably priced.
  • Oasis Greek restaurant and pizza on the main drag in town - next to Havana. Excellent Greek mezze.
  • Pont Muha, (continue Bld de la Liberte till you reach the river Muha). Best Burundian brochettes in town. If you are hungry take the brochette Hôtelière.
  • Roca Golf Hotel Lovely, very high quality, high standard international buffet with fresh soup, salads, grilled fish, meat, fruits, deserts. 1200h lunch (13$), 1830h dinner (20$). You get a hot towel to clean your hands. Excellent service. You don't have to wait for the excellent food. Beautiful place.
  • Tropicana, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore (Head East from Palace De L'Indépendance). Stylish and new (Dec 2010) restaurant and internet café. Very good burgers, omelettes, juices and coffee.  edit
  • La Baguette Magique, Boulevard Lumumba Patrice. Not a café or restaurant, just a very good bakery. Worth stopping at to stock up on cakes/croissants.  edit
  • Chez Michel, Next to Hotel le Tanganika. 257 222 75292. Excellent Belgian Bistro with Belgian beers. </eat>
  • Le Cafe Beryl, Chausee Prince Louis Rwagasore. #57. opened every weekday from 6:30AM until 10:00PM and on the weekend from 11:00 - 10:00PM. Bistro which is also good for the selection of asian and russian teas, juices and snacks.  edit

Rohero[edit]

  • BBQ, Avenue Muyinga. Interesting menu and cosy ambiance.
  • Chez Andre, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore. Super fancy restaurant in a large, decked-out mansion. Service can be slow and disappointing.
  • Le safran, Av Kukiko 38 (Rohero II), +257 22 213 999, [4]. 8-1430 / 18-22:30. Le Safran, Av. Kukiko 38 (Rohero II), ☎ +257 22 213 999, [new]. 8-1430 / 18-2230. At Av. Kukiko in quartier Rohero II you'll find this quality restaurant with a buffet rocking every Friday evening with live music. The cosy bar with pool-table has a happy hour between 18:00 and 19:00 hours. medium. medium.  edit
  • Shanghai, Avenue Muyinga (coming from the central market, take the Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore and turn left just before the Alimentation Escale du Bien - it's about 600 m up the Av. Muyinga, opposite a kindergarten). Best Chinese in town. Very fast service (in and out in less than an hour), also open for lunch.
  • Taj Mahal, Chaussée Prince Louis Rwagasore, Indian food.
  • Tandoor, BV Uprona (Between Bv Uprona and Bv 28 September). Good Indian food  edit

Kiriri[edit]

  • Belvedere, Avenue de Belvedere. Dining with a superb view over the city. Also open for lunch. Expensive.
  • Restaurant "Chez Vaya"Traditional Greek Kitchen old from 1989 with panoramic view Tel (257) 22228231 Mob (257) 79921191 E-mail: vayaburundi@yahoo.fr[5]

Lake Tanganyika[edit]

  • Bora Bora Beautiful Beach Club west of the town where the young, beautiful and rich meet. Lovely garden and architecture, stunning views to the lake. Great for a sundowner. Food on the other hand is rather low quality fastfood.
  • Cercle Nautique de Bujumbura, Avenue de la Plage. The food is not impressive, but the views (on a clear day) on Lake Tanganyika and the mountains of Congo (DRC) are unforgettable. As of late 2011, new owners have maintained the same prices but brought with them a miniscule that in no way reflects the offerings of the original menu, and shoddy service. On rare occasions you can see hippos in the evening time.
  • Ubuntu, Avenue de la Plage. Nice garden setting in deluxe hotel with rather overpriced food. The garden also houses several turtles, peacocks, and has some resident Uganda Cranes.
  • Eden Great lake views. Best pizza in Bujumbura, owned and managed by a well-known Belgian restauranteur who flies the mozzarella in from Italy. Ave de la Plage (along lake, past Ubuntu)
  • Restaurant Tanganyika, 1 Avenue de la Plage. [6] Set in a glorious 1930s art deco building and run by a professional Belgian chef. Restaurant Tanganyika serves up some of the best food in the city. Mains from 18,000.
  • Restaurant Hotel La Palmeraie, Nice new hotel with garden/pool side restaurant serving excellent French and international cuisine. Nice wine list, but meals can an be expensive (30-40$).

Kinindo[edit]

  • Habesha, Avenue Rukonwe (near the PSG Office). Good Ethiopian food.  edit
  • La Cervoise du Gaulois, Rue Mutaho. (Ave du Large direction Kinindo, cross Pont Muha, left after the green fence of Quartier OUA, first right. The Heineken sign on the left.). Closed Mondays.. Owned by a Quebecer-Burundian couple. Price range is between Havana Club and Botanika. Gourmet hamburgers, steak, ribs, etc. Beer on tap in frosted glasses. WiFi. Ask about film screenings and NHL hockey game nights.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Le Safran, Av. Kunkiko 38 (Rohero II), +257 22 213 999, [7]. 8-1430 / 18-2230. At Av. Kunkiko in quartier Rohero II you'll find this quality restaurant with a buffet every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon and evening. The cozy bar with a colourfull dans-night on Friday has a happy hour between 18:00 and 19:00 hours. medium.  edit

Several bars are located on Av 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).

  • Coeur d'Afrique, (Quartier Asiatique, near Ciné Caméo.). Outdoor 'cabaret' features live singing on weekend nights, popular with the college-aged crowd. Probably not wise during the raining season as there is no roof. They usually run out of cold beer early in the evening. (Many Burundians actually prefer their beer warm.) Food is available from the calmer place across the street.  edit
  • Dominoes Sports Bar and Restaurant, Behind Kings Conference and HCR on Ave De Large Kinindo Bujumbura ((Kings conference Centre Turn right and right again were 100 metres on the left)), 75635862. 07:30 till whenever. Dominoes Restaurant is just 5 minutes from Bujumbura town centre Fantastic Gardens,Great food and drink with a good variety of dishes at fair prices. Great place to play Petanque, and bring the children, it's a cool place to go good for a romantic evening, or lean on the bar and play Dominoes...later in the evening we move tables and dance the night away to great music. Welsh man owned so your sure of a warm welcome and great service. It is in a safe secure place. Just Honk at the Gate to come in.  edit


Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation can be broadly split into the northern beach resorts and downtown. Downtown can be further split into places near the lake, the city centre proper, and up in the hills behind the city centre.

Budget[edit]

A local helped me find a great guest house to stay that only cost 20000 a night (there's a cheaper option for 14000). The guest house is still renovating but the rooms currently available are super clean and spacious. It is located next to the President's house and across from the French embassy. Very easy to find

Northern beach resorts[edit]

  • Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika on the lake at $100 upwards for a single person but $50 surcharge for a second person. The Italian owned hotel is popular on the weekends with the expat crowd so a fee of 10.000BFR was introduced for the usage of the pool. Located outside of the city right at the beach. It also has some sporting facilities such as tennis courts. Breakfast is included.
  • Karera Beach Hotel on the lake. More of a weekend-getaway than a hotel, chalets on the beach (with kitchenette, TV etc) start at $65 per night. Breakfast and other services not included. tel 247818 or mobile 77762185

Downtown, lakeside[edit]

  • Restaurant Tanganyika 1 Avenue de la Plage [8] - has 4 spacious rooms overlooking the garden - recently refurbished with new bathrooms, art deco fixtures, free wifi and air conditioning. A small sandy beach is over the road. Good value at $60 per night including breakfast. The road is a little noisy however.
  • Safari Gate, Avenue du Large (at the lake), +257 22 21 47 80, [9]. Don't believe the prices quoted on their website, they are long out-of-date. The cheaper $60 rooms are pretty dingy and have no view - better to splash out on a $120 room. $60 - $120.  edit

Downtown, city centre[edit]

  • Hotel Amahoro, PLOT NO.242 INDUSTRIAL AVENUE, (+257) 22 24 75 50 (+257) 22 24 75 51, [10]. checkin: 12;00; checkout: 11:00. In the center of town. Wifi, nice little restaurant, and conference rooms. The cheapest rooms have cold showers. Website: http://www.hotelamahoro.com/ English: http://www.hotelamahoro.com/en/ US$55-100.  edit
  • Hotel Botanika tiny, delightful boutique hotel above Restaurant Botanika - one of the best restaurants in town. Located in centre of town, in the vicinity of a lot of bars and nightclubs, so very noisy on weekends. Great food and service and wifi. around $90 per night.
  • Dorado Hotel, Avenue de L'industrie, +257 22 25 95 07, [11]. Basic hotel with air conditioned rooms and wireless internet. The food from the restaurant is excellent. $80.  edit
  • Guesthouse Ave du Cafe, Ave du Cafe (near maison de la presse), (257)22222056, [12]. Simple NGO-style guesthouse in a house. Currently only 4 rooms. You share living space and dining table with other guests (mainly Belgian NGO workers on mission to Burundi). Tarif includes breakfast, lunch, laundry and wireless. Other numbers are 78880176 or 75800801 email guesthousebujumbura@yahoo.fr $45.  edit
  • Water front hotel (approx 100 USD). The former international Novotel brand and has been privatised after being state owned for several years. The former first hotel in town, is in desperate need of renovation and has seen a lot better times.
  • Hotel de L'Amitie (approx 50 USD ) in the centre of town.*
  • Roca Golf Hotel, Boulevard de la Tanzanie, +257 22 277 100, [13]. Nice hotel with free wi fi, air conditioning in rooms, access to golf course included in price. Opened in December 2011. US$200-300.  edit

Up in the hills[edit]

  • Vaya Hotel, (257) 22228231 (), [14]. Vaya Hotel  edit The restaurant is 20 years old, shabby and overpriced, but the (4) rooms are good value. It's situated at the top of the hill near University, far from the centre of town, so its quieter and cooler. (around $90 per night)
  • Village Hotel $100 upwards per night. Located in Rohero. Owned by Interbank Burundi. 28 rooms, all amenities including swimming pool and internet. E-Mail villagehotel_bujumbura@yahoo.com tel (257) 22244359
  • Hotel Alexestel, Avenue MAKAMBA (Avenue Makamba, Rohero I), (+257) 22 253972 (), [15]. checkout: 12.00. Room types: Basic, Single rooms - Double rooms and Deluxe room. Facilities: Free wireless Internet connection, free swimming pool, a bar-restaurant. Laundry service, free breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom. 40$-50$-60$.  edit
  • Hotel Alexestel, Nyakabiga, Avenue MUYINGA (Avenue Muyinga, close to new mosque, Nyakabiga), (+257) 22 253972 (), [16]. checkout: 12.00. Room types: Single rooms - Double rooms with or without A/C. Facilities: Free wireless Internet connection, a restaurant. Laundry service, breakfast, mosquito net, hot water in bathroom. 50$-70$.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Bujumbura is a moderately safe city, but common sense prevails. Walking around during the day should be fine, but at night time (6PM) the streets get very dark and you are best off getting a taxi except for very short walks. Day or night there are very few police around. The area near the port feels pretty dodgy day or night.

Contact[edit]

English/French language broadcasts are available from BBC World Service on 90.2MHz and 105.6MHz.

Internet access is best at an expat restaurant with WiFi, especially Café Aroma on Boul. de l'Uprona. For those without their own device, Surf Internet Café (back of Rusca Plaza, Ave. de l'Amitié) has generally fast Internet on good quality computers during the day. In the evening, your best bet in the city centre is Face@Face near the Waterfront Hotel. 3G wireless sticks are available from Econet as of mid 2011, with other carriers planning to offer them soon.

Cope[edit]

Embassies[edit]

  • Be-flag.png Belgium, Boulevard de la Liberté, 9, +257 22 22-61-76, [17].  edit
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, P.Ο. Βοx 1660, Bujumbura, +257 22 42 42532.  edit
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom. There is no UK embassy in Burundi, but there is a liason office + 257 22 22-32-66. Burundi is covered from the British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. Consular assistance is provided by the Embassy of Belgium.  edit
  • Us-flag.png United States, Ave des Etats-Unis, +257 22 20-70-00 (fax: +257 22 22-29-26), [18]. M 9AM-noon, 2PM-3PM, W 2PM-3PM, F 9AM-10:30AM.  edit

Get out[edit]

About 60km south of Bujumbura are two lakeside resort hotels, Blue Bay [19] and Resha Royal Imperial Hotel [20] which make for nice day trips or as somewhere to stay overnight. Both have restaurants serving up excellent grilled fish.


The Belvedere bus company has regular service to Kigali and several Burundian destinations. Their office is behind Dmitri's near the U.S. Embassy. There is also an Intercity bus station on Ave. de l'OUA near GTS.


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