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Published: July 22nd 2013
Vendor at market in Bujumbura Bujumbura
This woman was selling fruit in the market in Bujumbura. You see the reaction when I tried to take a photo of her
When we planned this trip we updated ourselves on the safety situation in Burundi. All the travel advise we could find said that travelling in the country was not a great idea but the capital should be reasonably safe. So we initially decided not to venture outside of Bujumbura
, Burundi's capital. We then thought two days in Burundi was going to be enough because Bujumbura does not have a great deal of attractions to keep us happy for longer than that. But when we arrived in Bujumbura we met up with, Justine. Justine is a Burundian and she said that the foreign ministry's travel recommendations are exaggerated and that it is quite safe to travel in Burundi as long as you don't walk around by yourself at night. So we decided to stay a little bit longer than we originally planned and travel around the country as well. That part of our visit in Burundi we will tell you more about in our next blog entry. Here we are mainly going to write about Bujumbura.
Bujumbura has, as we mentioned above, not much to offer when it comes to sightseeing. We thought two days was going to be
Diving into Lake Tanganyika
Swimming in Lake Tangayika is a highlight of any visit to Burundi
enough to see everything but it turned out that it is quite possible to squeeze in everything in only one day.
We start with our favourite site in Bujumbura - Bujumbura Cathedral. When we arrived there we wanted to take a photo but were stopped by a security guard who tried to tell us that it was not permitted to take photos there. We thought that was strange, it just doesn't make sense to not allow photos to be taken outside a cathedral, so we wanted someone explain to us why that was so. The guard went and fetched one of the priests working in the cathedral. It turned out that it was some kind of misunderstanding. It was perfectly OK to take photos of the cathedral of course. But it was a misunderstanding that truly worked to our advantage. The priest decided to give us a small tour of the cathedral. Thanks to that we were permitted to climb the cathedral's tower from where there was a very good view over Bujumbura.
Another nice place we visited was an Orthodox church right in the centre of Bujumbura. The church was closed so we never got to see
First we weren't permitted to take this photo. Can't understand why. Probably due to a misunderstanding
the interior of that church but the outside was very nice.
The third thing in Bujumbura we would like to mention is Lake Tanganyika. There are good beaches near Bujumbura. However, if you decide to swim in the lake it is a good idea to take preventions against bilharzia because the parasite that causes the illness can be found in Lake Tanganyika.
The last place we would like to mention in Bujumbura is the Musée Vivant, which perhaps better is described as a zoo rather than a museum. Zoos are in our opinion often quite tragic places where animals are kept in too small cages and are mistreated in various ways. There are exceptions but in general we believe animals are better off in the wild than in a zoo. Musée Vivant is one of the worst cases of cruelty to animals we have seen. They had a leopard in cage that was unsanitary and totally devoid of anything that a leopard might want to have if locked up. The crocodiles that were on display had one dry spot and one little pond each and the enclosure was only large enough for the crocodile to lie in the
Slightly unusual but quite interesting style, isn't it?
water or our of the water. The crocodile had nowhere else to go. In one cage there were guinea pigs and rabbits. They were destined to become food for the crocodiles. In that cage they were so tightly stuffed that the animals could not move from one end of the cage to the other without climbing over other animals. The saddest display of them all was the aquariums. When the guide showed us the fish tanks he explained that there was nothing to see there right now because all the fish had died from asphyxiation. That was so sad it actually made us laugh.
From what we have written you might think Bujumbura is not a very interesting city. Even though there are few typical tourist attractions it is not a boring place. In the rest of Burundi there are several interesting places. Some of them you will find described in our next blog entry.
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