Burundi is a landlocked country bound by Rwanda to its north, Tanzania to the east and south and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Burundi is a hilly country with altitudes ranging from 2600-9000 feet (790-2745 m). The only land below 3,000 ft is a narrow strip of plain along the Ruzizi River which forms the western border north of Lake Tanganyika. The weather in Bujumbura and along the shores of Lake Tanganyika is warm and humid with average temperatures ranging from 64-89° F (218-32° C); frost sometimes occurs at night in the highlands. Dry seasons are June-September and December-January; the principal rainy season is February-May.
The major rivers form natural boundaries for most of the country. The Akanuaru and the Kagera separate Burundi from Rwanda along many sections of the common border. The Kagera and the Ruvuvu are other southern most tributaries of the mighty Nile River while most of Burundi’s southern border is formed by the Malagarazi River.
Burundi has only two large cities that include Bujumbura and Gitega. It is presently visited more by transit tourists than as a destination in itself. However, there are some attractions that warrant a short visit, especially for the prolific chimpanzee and birdlife.
NATIONAL PARKS AND GAME RESERVES
Ruvubu National Park
Ruvubu National Park is the largest national park in Burundi covering 508km2. It covers a significant amount of land of about 1.5-10kms on both sides of the Ruvubu River on the eastern coast of Burundi. The Ruvubu National Park was set up in the year 1980 and covers about 500 square kilometers of area. The Ruvubu National Park of Burundi is the homeland of some of the most striking wildlife animals and species of flowers. All these natural beauties make Ruvubu National Park standout among all the other Burundi tourist attractions.
Wildlife in the Ruvubu National Park consists of animals like hippopotamus, buffalo, crocodiles, leopard, monkeys, antelope and lion. Bird lovers will have a marvelous time in the Ruvubu National Park as more than 425 species of birds thrive in this park making it all the more attractive.
The Ruvubu National Park aims to preserve the endangered species of animals and birds. Human habitation had been evacuated from the park so that the different wildlife species could thrive well.
The Ruvubu National Park of Burundi is easy accessible by road as it lies about 216 km away from Bujumbura and the park itself has about 50 kilometer of tracks. Camping facilities for the visitors is the newest addition to Ruvubu National Park and this makes it more attractive to adventure lovers.
Rusizi National Park
Rusizi National Park is the most popular and sought after Burundi tourist attraction. Rusizi National Park in Burundi is commonly known as Parc National de la Rusizi and is situated in the north-west of Bujumbura. The park is divided into two parts; the larger part lies on the eastern bank of Rusizi River whereas the smaller part forms the delta of Rusizi at the entrance point of Lake Tanganyika.
Tourists will enjoy a lot in this park as they can explore various unique species of flora and fauna and the environment also supports the existence of these unique species. Wildlife species in Rusizi National Park include hippopotamus, antelopes and monkeys along with numerous species of colorful birds.
Various species of trees namely the Acacia albida and Euphorbia candelabrum are found in the northern part of the reserve. Ponds of different sizes are present in the northern section of the region. Various species of unique birds form an integral part of the Rusizi National Park.
Fifty percent of Rusizi National Park comprises of forest followed by artificial landscapes covering (23%), shrub land (18%) and grassland (7%).Thus the Rusizi National Park is the home of numerous wildlife species which make the park a wonderful Burundi tourist destination.
Kibira National Park
Perched on the top of Congo-Nile ranges, between 1550 and 2660m of altitude, Kibira Park is a majestic primeval rainy forest covering 40,000hectares. Former sacred hunting reserve for the kings of Burundi, it is today instituted a protected area and is habitat to some 98 mammal species, a dozen of primates (numerous families of chimpanzees, baboons, tailed monkeys, black colobus), but also some 200 species of birdlife.
Many streams and rivers that irrigate the country in the east as well as in the west have got their sources in this park. This rainy forest plays a major role for the formation of the basins of Congo and Nile Rivers of which it constitute the watershed line. It is also one of Mugamba regions with the highest rainfall in the country.
Although it has not been visited since the war, this park became long ago a tourist attraction very appreciated by visitors: led by guards of the park, tourists would go deep in the dark undergrowth to discover the charms of the primeval forest, with all along the way, fantastic melodies of birds. To access the park, you pass through huge tea plantations of Teza and Rwegura, what constitute already charming attractions.
At the moment, it is possible to reach inside the park via the tourist pygmies’ village of Busekera, but also at the level of the hydroelectric dam of Rwegura, another tourist curiosity with magnificent vista, favorable to rest and outdoor picnic.
Lake Rwihinda Natural Reserve
Located in the central Africa, Burundi is an ideal tourist destination for nature lovers. The rich flora and fauna of the country attract the tourist in no time. There are a number of natural reserves and parks in Burundi to protect the wild life. Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is one of those reserves. It is a major tourist attraction in Burundi.
Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is situated in the north of the country. The natural reserve is quite close to the town of Kirundo near the Rwandan border. Lake Rwihinda Nature Reserve was previously known as Lac aux Oiseaux which means Bird Lake. The lake covers 425 ha area. However the total protected area cover around 8,000 ha.
Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is occupied by Forest ( 27%), Shrub land (45%) and West land (27%). This area is used for agricultural purpose and fisheries. The rest of the area is used for nature conservation and research.
It is an ideal place for bird watching. Several birds like Zambezian Biome, Falco Naumanni, Ardeola Idea, Gallinago Media, Circus Macrourus,Guinea-Congo Forests Biome and Afrotropical Highlands Biome can be found here. Except than these birds you can find a number of other species such as White-collared Oliveback, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Red-chested Sunbird, Sharpe’s Pied-babbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-faced Barbet and Ring-necked Francolin.
However due to agriculture, fishing, decrease of water level many spices are not found now days in Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve.
Bururi Natural Reserve
The Natural reserve of Bururi is a 3300 ha expanse of altitude damp forest. The town of Bururi offers visitors this wonderful panorama.
In this place there are about 117 different species of birds and 25 different species of mammals have been identified in a forestland surrounding of multifarious vegetation. On a walking circuit along the botanical lanes and trails of this forest the visitor will fully enjoy the wild coolness of our mountains densely covered with trees of many different species.
This region is only 33 km distant from Roumonge. The road through it will drive you from the lakes along miles of hallucinating and breathtaking panoramas.
Visit to the three major National Parks of Ruvubu National Park, Rusizi National Park and Kibira National Park takes you to the most popular areas with, a tropical natural forest to ponder wildlife like antelopes, hares, buffalos, cynocephalus and tropical and wild crocodile. Safaris to these parks can be combined with the visits to the parks in the neighboring countries like Gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda plus DRC. Kibira alone is home to a number of primate species, including Chimpanzees and black and white colobus monkeys , and boasts over 250 species of birds, including the majestic Great Blue Turaco
More than 200 bird species have been recorded, including Ardeola idae, Circus macrourus, Falco naumanni and Gallinago media. Large numbers of waterbirds occur with counts of over 1,000 Pelecanus onocrotalus and large numbers of Mycteria ibis. Other species recorded include Neotis denhami. In addition, three species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome and 10 of the Afrotropical Highlands biome have also been recorded. This makes it one of destinations for bird lovers. Lake Rwihinda (birds lake), is seen as the principal attraction of the region. It is the mostly recommended for nature lovers and birdwatchers, amateurs or professionals.
Fishing and Beaches
Bordering Lake Tanganyika that boosts its natural beauty, fishing is an important activity, with wide varieties of fish found in the deep lake. New species of fish are also discovered regularly in the lake with 350 existing species of fish. This natural beauty has also promoted holidays on sandy beaches. The famous Nile River has got its southernmost source in Burundi, downhill the mount Gikizi at 2 044m of altitude and at 6 671km from its contact point with the Mediterranean sea. It was discovered in 1 934 by the German Waldecker and this as well is a better point for sport fishing.
This takes you to the Snake & Culture Museum; the Islam Culture Centre, Explorers Memorial Centre, a huge rock in the Suburbs of Bujumbura commemorating the meeting between explorers Livingston Stanley in 1871, Gitega where we visit the Burundi National Museum and Bujumbura city center. One can also visit the Mugamba region located in the water divide zone for Congo and Nile Rivers’ systems. Habitations are scattered across this region.. The houses are surrounded by bamboo hedges, straw roofed and painted in red and kaolin. The relief of this region is mainly made of plateau.
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