Following decades of vicious ethnic-based in fighting, Burundi has recently entered a new era of peace. That’s certainly not going to cause a rush of tourism, with most governments still erring on the side of caution and suggesting travelers stay well away from this volatile destination, but if you’re the adventurous type, that sense of 'first to see...'might be just what you're after.
A tiny nation of lofty peaks and slow-paced, lakeside life, those who brave Burundi’s war-torn climes find a touch of the Africa of old. Capital Bujumbura occupies a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and is only a short hop from clear-water lakeside beaches more reminiscent of the Caribbean than a tiny corner of Africa. In the city itself, the remnants of unbridled colonialism have survived the conflicts, leaving a city of wide streets and imposing facades. The grandiose vibe and looming mountains more than make up for nights in avoiding the darkness of a city that can turn nasty after sundown.
Elsewhere, you can visit Burundi’s own pyramid, appropriately marking the southern most source of the Nile. Literary travelers will want to drop in to La Pierre de Livingstone et Stanley, the rock that marks a lakeside spot where Burundian’s claim the words ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’ were first uttered, though many believe a spot in Tanzania has a stronger case.
Quirky attractions aside, most visitors leave the capital for the large selection of underdeveloped national parks, where you can travel by unobtrusive barge on close up bird watching tours at Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve, or visit the primeval forests of Kibira National Park, home to playful packs of dozens of types of swinging apes.
For now, Burundi is a risk that perhaps only the most intrepid of travelers will be willing to take. They’ll be amply rewarded, however, with a side of Africa few other countries can match and some real ‘unseen’ travel stories.