Blogs from Burundi, Africa

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Africa » Burundi » North » Ngozi November 21st 2013

After being taken to lunch by a Burundian customs officer we rode west towards the top of Lake Tanganyika and the capital of Bujumbura. Lush hillsides swept past us covered in an intricate patchwork of crops. People were everywhere. Bicycles passed loaded high with produce, other cyclists held on to trucks as they were pulled up hills, roadside stalls and brick kilns lined the road. At one point I passed two guys hand-sawing a massive log into planks with a saw that looked like it was from the 1800s. Each minute included moments of eye contact with half a dozen people. Sometimes I received wide mouthed stares, sometimes a friendly wave, and on more than one occasion a spontaneous dance. The corners kept coming and coming as we wound through the fertile hills. Ahead of me ... read more
Ngozi
This passes for legal tender in Burundi

Africa » Burundi July 17th 2013

David Livingstone spent years trying to find the source of the Nile. He should have taken this tour instead All official travel recommendations say that Burundi is not safe outside Bujumbura. We spoke with some locals and realised that the foreign ministry is exaggerating the dangers a bit. We decided to take a calculated risk and leave the capital for a while and see a bit more of the country. If you wish to travel around in Burundi local transport is unfortunately not of much use. Many places can’t be reached on regular buses. One way or another you need to have you own wheels to get around. Rent a car and drive yourself is possible of course but for us that was never an alternative. We took a tour that included a driver and a ... read more
View over hilly Burundi
Rusizi National Park
Rusizi National Park

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 16th 2013

Bujumbura 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 ... read more
Diving into Lake Tanganyika
Bujumbura Cathedral
Bujumbura Cathedral

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 18th 2012

I must admit, I came with a bit of fear. It seems safe, but there's peacekeepers everywhere ... well, international troops for several contingents in the hotel lobby for sure. The drive in was on a surprisingly good road ... I was expecting big parts to be gravel and other parts to be pot holed ... but, though it was mountainous and thus windy and narrow, the road surface itself was decent. Tomorrow I head south to the Tanzanian border near Kigoma ... close to Ujiji, where some self-promoting journalist met up with a missionary who was trying to stop the slave trade ... Supposedly that first meeting was actually close to Buj, about 5km south of where I'm now. I was planning to going to that spot, but the taxi driver had other ideas. Needless ... read more
Road side stalls
Border crossing
Bus after border crossing

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura June 10th 2012

The drive from Kigali to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi took about 6 hours. For some reason, Burundi only allows tourists get a 3 day visa at the border for $40. To get a month visa, you must apply in advance and pay $90. It didn’t make much of a difference to me, as I only planned on spending a couple of days there, but it seems ridiculous that Burundi would try to hinder the few tourists to make the effort to get there. The drive through Burundi was quite spectacular. It was all winding roads through mountains and very rural land. We were stopped for a while just before Bujumbura, as the police tried to get a bribe out of the driver. On the bus, I met Lambert from Kigali, who spoke very good English. ... read more
Fishermen
Bwija
Come On You Boys In Green!!

Africa » Burundi April 11th 2012

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Ok, so this famous query, which was supposedly pronounced by Henry Morton Stanley when he stumbled on the long errant Dr. Livingstone, was uttered in Ujiji, in what is now Tanzania, not in Burundi - yet I couldn’t resist using it in this context! In my defense, these two almost storybook characters did continue on to a point on the Burundian shore of Lake Tanganyika, just south of Bujumbura – a point marked by a rock “memorial” and a disused bar. As a history buff, I couldn’t not go to the site; my wonderful hosts, the Watson family, indulged my desire to see the spot, taking me despite the fact that we had to pass through an FLN zone*. But if Livingstone and Stanley could travel in this region without the aid ... read more
Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika
This ain't going to be too bad!
Snack, with View of Congo

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura January 19th 2012

N'Amahoro, After almost five months in the US, I've finally found my way back to Burundi for more research. Hooray! My favorite bit of news so far is that there's an "Acid Bug" (also known as "Nairobi Fly") infestation in Bujumbura. While they don't bite, they do secrete acid onto your skin if you touch them. Fantastic. If I develop blisters all over my body, at least I'll know where they came from. August As it turns out, I never blogged about my last month in Burundi. So, I will quickly catch everyone up. Most of August, was spent working in the prison, which I can only describe as both fascinating and emotionally draining. Mpimba prison is a rough place. One year, food shortages prompted the prisoners to riot and set the front building on fire ... read more
Musée Vivant
Musée Vivant
Sunrise

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura October 10th 2011

So in a matter of hours we will negotiate the bizarre rituals of the Bujumbura traffic to head to the airport and leave Burundi for the last time. It has been a testing, exciting, unexpected and bizarre experience but it is also time to move on. Ahead of us are four months of adventure and for those who want to follow what we get up to then this is the place! ... read more

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 18th 2011

I'm lazy. The result is that I haven't blogged in a month... but I'm back! It's been an interesting few weeks, here in Bujumbura. One of the most fascinating things about my interviews is how people construct Burundi's past. I could probably group people into current political affiliations based on their renditions of history - who was responsible for most of the killing during the war, which rebel groups were better, who were the best and worst presidents, when the division between Hutus and Tutsis began... And, believe me, there are some very different ways to tell the history of Burundi. That's not so different from any of us, actually - the details we highlight from the past shape how we see and understand the world today. "A man's called a traitor or a liberator. A ... read more
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Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 1st 2011

Peter Piper picked a peck of pili peppers. Yes, I said pili peppers. The Challenge I'm not sure where to begin this latest blog, so I think I'll start with the most recent event: the pili pili eating competition. Those of you who know me know that I love spicy food. There's very little that's too spicy for me to stomach, and I'm always up to the challenge of trying something new. So when my friend Seth claimed he was the only American he knew that could eat a whole pili... one question came to mind: are you sure about that? In many parts of Africa, it's common to be served pili pili (or piment) with a meal... a kind of hot sauce derived from the African chili - delicious on almost everything, in my opinion. ... read more
Cheers!
Tailors in the Market
The Lake at Night




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