When you think of safaris in East Africa, Burundi may not come on top list. It is one of the least visited countries in Africa and a visit here guarantees you authentic experiences from forest experiences to great adventures and unique cultural encounters.

Burundi is a compact landlocked country located in East Africa with 16 provinces extending to cover an area of about 28sq.kms. It’s a small country with size same to Maryland in the USA.

Regardless of its size, Burundi is a complete adventure paradise for active fund seekers on African safari. A visit to Burundi is a lifetime opportunity to discover unique things – from the scenic Lakes, mountains to cultural and historical sites.

Burundi is the landlocked country lying within the African Great Lakes Region of East Africa and it is bordered by Rwanda to the North, Tanzania and D.R. Congo. For over 500 years, Burundi has been inhabited by the Hutu, Twa and Tutsi people.

Attractions in Burundi 

Lake Tanganyika 

Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest and Africa’s 2nd largest lake with area coverage of 19883.9 sq. miles. It is the top attraction in Burundi also naturally endowed with over 1300 plant and faunal species. Lots of crocodiles plus over 300 small and large fish all reside in this water Lake.

World-wide, Lake Tanganyika is the 2nd deepest Lake after Baikal Lake and also the 2nd biggest fresh water reservoirs after Lake Victoria. It is rich freshwater Lake with unique landscape making it also an ideal photography destination/location.

Rusizi National Park 

Lying outside Bujumbura capital is the spectacular Rusizi River National Park. The surrounding plains at the river get flooded periodically attracting hundreds of animals to this area including birds, hippos, etc. On clear day, expect a remarkable birding experience as you identify lots of migratory and resident birds in this park.

Ruvubu National Park

Ruvubu National Park is a 500sq.kms protected area, founded in 1980. Its borders stretch covering the provinces such as Cankuzo, Ruyigi, Muyinga and Karuzi. It also stretches to the Southern side of Tanzania and the landscape of River Ruvubu dominates this region. The park takes its name from Ruvubu River and features unique eco-system including animal species such as cape buffaloes, waterbucks, hippos, duikers, Nile crocodiles, 5 primate species like olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, Senegal bushbaby and more.

A significant bird population also live in the Ruvubu National Park and they total up to 200 bird species inclusive of the freckled nightjars, purple crested turacos, bateleur, ross’s turacos, barn owl, tambourine dove, fork tailed drongo, black backed puffback, scimitar bill, wattled starling, miombo rock thrush, pale flycatcher, trilling cisticola, green cap eremomela, pin tailed whydah, black throated canary, red collared widowbird, western violet-backed sunbird, etc.

Lake Rwihinda Natural Reserve 

For bird lovers on Burundi safari, a visit to Lake Rwihinda Natural Reserve is one of the best places to consider especially for migratory birds. Lake Rwihinda Natural Reserve lies in the Northern side of Burundi and it is largely comprised of forests, shrubs, wetland.

The avifaunal species that reside within this nature reserve include the papyrus gonoleks, Carruthers’s cisticola, red faced barbet, red chested sunbird, white collared olive back, Northern brown throated weaver sharpe’s pied babblers, ring necked francolin, papyrus yellow warblers, etc.

Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is true haven for migratory birds. The migratory birds flock here to reproduce in thousands hence a great opportunity to sight majority of them in a single habitat.

Kibira National Park

Also best known as Parc National de Kibira in French, Kibira National Park is located in Northwestern Burundi. The park stretches up to 400sq.kms of land area covering the North provincial town of Muramvya. 16% of Kibira National Park is largely primary montane rain-forest and it is close to 2 large tea plantations in Teza and Rwegura. Its altitudinal range is 1100m and features over 644 plant species, 98 mammal species, 200 bird species, etc.

The birds to look up to on Burundi safari in Kibira National Park include bar tailed trogon, white spotted flufftail, great blue turacos, black and white casqued hornbill, grey parrot, mountain buzzards. A significant population of primates also reside within this park including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys etc. Kibira is under the management of the Institut National pour l’environment et la Conservation de la Nature (INECN). The key activities offered at Kibira include birding, chimpanzee trekking and it is possible getting there by road using 4×4 vehicle.

Karera Falls

Located in Rutana South Burundi, Karera waterfalls is one of the picturesque landscapes you should consider visiting on Burundi safaris. It is an ideal relaxation and relief spot; you can spend more time swimming and chilling in its water.

Kigwena Natural Forest

Lying suitably on the National Route No 3 within Rumonge Commune of Burundi, Kigwena Natural Forest sits on 3000ha. It is a great place to experience that feeling of adventure while on a foot. It hosts a significant number of wildlife especially forest dwellers including monkeys, baboons, butterflies, birds, etc.

Rumonge Nature Reserve 

Rumonge Natural Reserve was established in 1980 and it is one of the best spots in Burundi to spot a number of birds. It covers an area of about 50sq.kms and lying at altitudinal range of 1641m.

Bururi Nature Reserve 

Bururi Nature Reserve is typical wet forest and a good habitat to wildlife including more than 100 bird species. It is located within the Southwestern side of Burundi, established in 1951 and also recognized as a Wilderness Area by IUCN. The nature reserve lies within 33sq.kms and run by the Institute National pour l’environment et la Conservation de la Nature. Over 93 tree species live in this nature reserve plus over 87 bird species and they include apalis argentea.

Historical sites 

Burundi also features a good number of historical sites. They include regina mundi cathedral in Bujumbura, monument de l’Unite, Livingstone Stanley monument, muse vivant Bujumbura and others.

Culture, dances, music performances

Burundi is popular for its amazing traditional drumming of Karyenda which is a significant Burundian cultural heritage. The drumming is accompanied by traditional dance and this is often witnessed during celebrations and family gatherings. Besides, you can also try their unique cuisines mainly consisting of maize and banana as their staple foods and red kidney beans. Unlike other cultures/traditions, Burundians prefer homemade banana wine and beer.

There is storytelling, lessons on poetry or songs. These are best done by elderly while you are on cultural safari in Burundi. After a visit to see Burundi wildlife for instance chimpanzees in Kibira National Park, don’t miss visiting the nearby local communities to explore and experience the unique traditions, cultures of Burundians. Burundi like any other African state or country in the world has a unique culture, traditions, practices, norms, dances, music performance and more.

Hot springs 

There are also magical hot springs in Burundi worth visiting. These include Mugara hot springs found in Bururi 176kms from Bujumbura city. For great healing, there is also Muhweza hot springs located in Rutana 122kms from Bujumbura.

The source of the Nile

The river Nile is one of the world’s longest rivers and it drains 3 million sq.kms of land stretching to cover over 11 countries. These include Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Congo and more. The Nile River stretches up to 6650kms and its source still remains one of the main areas for debate. In Burundi, you will visit the pyramid which marks where the Nile River begins. This is found in Kasumo 115kms South-east of Bujumbura.

Activities to do while in Burundi 

There are many reasons why Burundi is best known as the heart of Africa. It is one country with untouched cultures and landscape. A visit to Burundi is a great opportunity to indulge in several experiences such as visiting the Source of the Nile, bird watching (birding in Burundi is best done in Lake Rwihinda Nature reserve also previously referred to as the Bird Lake and it is known for birds such as the great snipe, lesser kestrel, African fish eagle and more);

Hike Mount Heha (this is Burundi’s highest mountain and makes up part of the country’s mountain ranges. This mountain range is 65kms from Bujumbura and good for hikers to have great fund), cultural encounter, visit Lake Tanganyika, etc.

Go adventure at Chutes de la Karera which makes a collection of 4 waterfalls – Karera waterfalls, Nyakai waterfall 1, Mwaro Falls and Nyakai 11.

Best time of the year to visit Burundi 

The best time to travel to Burundi all various depending on visitor interest or destination he or she wants to pay a visit. However, the interesting thing is that Burundi is all year-round travel destination.

But, the favorable weather conditions and the best months to consider visiting Burundi is usually from June, July, August and September. The warmest months starts from January, February, March, April, July, August, September, October, November and December. The rainy months run from March to April and November to December.