Bujumbura is as exotic as its name sounds. The Burundian capital sits on the shores of Lake Tanganyika surrounded by looming mountains, and the cityscape is an intriguing mixture of imposing public buildings and grandiose colonial relics. Many of the dusty streets intersect with wide, tree-lined boulevards and the city has a reputation for beautiful beaches and the region’s best nightlife.
The Musee Vivant displays some of the country’s greatest treasures. The small but thought-provoking collection includes exhibits about pottery, drums, baskets and other traditional handicrafts, and there is also a zoo featuring fish from Lake Tanganyika, snakes, crocodiles and birds. The most interesting part of the museum is the traditional Burundian village recreated on the grounds.
If you would rather see animals in their natural habitat, head to the nearby Rusizi National Park, where hippos and crocodiles openly sun themselves on the riverbanks. Visitors can also spot monkeys, antelopes and hundreds of species of flora within the park. Be on the lookout for Gustave, one of the world’s largest known crocodiles. For decades, locals have been haunted by the 20-foot long man-eating beast, and the government of Burundi hopes to capture him soon.
Scottish Missionary and explorer Dr. David Livingstone was instrumental in opening the interior of Africa to colonization. He is immortalized in a massive stone monument just south of Bujumbura on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone and a fellow explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, spent two nights at the site in 1871. According to some locals, the site location where the famous question “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” was first spoken.
Visitors can soak in the sun at two beaches near the city. Karera Beach is a great place for snorkeling and swimming, while Saga Beach has more entertainment options, including bars, restaurants and cafes.
Adventurous travelers can find much to do in and around Lake Tanganyika. The lake is home to many rare species of fish and marine life, and snorkelers and divers will be sweetly rewarded even in the shallow waters close to shore. Visitors can easily rent boats for fishing, and local guides are always eager to show tourists the waters. The coast is also an excellent place for bird watching, and the Burundian Association for the Protection of Birds often conducts free tours of the area with English-speaking guides.
While in the city, be on the lookout for Burundian drummer performances. Flyers posted all over the city advertise the traditional entertainment shows, and they are a real treat for visitors. Arranging a meeting with a drum troop or getting private lessons is quite easy as well.
The Centre Culturel Francais is one of the premier cultural institutions in Bujumbura. The center offers music, theater and film programs in addition to providing French and Kiswahili lessons to both tourists and locals.
Food is a big part of Bujumbura culture, and visitors will not be disappointed with the selection of restaurants in the capital. A traditional meal usually consists of fish or beef brochette, fried plantains, chips and fresh salad, but there are many international restaurants serving up French, Italian and Middle Eastern foods.
Bujumbura Geographical Location
Bujumbura is located in the central west coast of Burundi facing Lake Taganyika.
Bujumbra is Burundi’s largest city and has a population of approximately 800,000.
Kirundi and French are the official languages of Burundi. Swahili is spoken frequently in Bujumbura.
Bujumbura Predominant Religion
- 67% Christian
- 23% Indigenous Beliefs
- 10% Muslim
The majority of the Muslim population lives in urban areas.
The Burundi Franc is the official currency of Burundi.
Bujumbura has consistently hot temperatures throughout the year although the altitude helps to keep the perceived temperature cool. There is a rainy season that lasts from October to April.
Bujumbura Main Attractions
- Musee Vivant
- Rusizi National Park
- Livingstone-Stanley Monument
Other Attractions in Bujumbura
- Lake Tanganyika
- Postmaster’s House
- Parc des Reptiles
- Musee de Geologie du Burundi