Beautiful Burundi has been blighted by a generation of ethnic conflict, but with the advent of peace, this charming country may at long last be able to put its dark past to rest. A tiny little nation of soaring mountains and languid lakeside communities, Burundi is sandwiched between the African giants of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania. The scenery is stunning and the welcome warm, and it may once again begin to receive a trickle of travellers as the word gets out that the war is over.
The steamy capital Bujumbura has a lovely location on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and just outside the city are some of the finest inland beaches on the continent. Ask the old Africa hands about Burundi before the war, and it is the sort of place they go misty-eyed about and hark back to the life of the lotus-eaters. Sadly there has been no lotus-eating for most Burundians during more than a decade of violence.
Many of the upcountry attractions have been off limits for years, but the stunning scenery and warmth of the Burundians more than compensates. Choose from the southernmost source of the Nile, the ancient forest of Parc National de la Kibira or the spot where Stanley was reputed to have uttered those timeless words ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’.
Intertribal tensions have devastated the country since independence in 1962 and there is always a chance things could kick off again. It is a young peace, so make sure you do your homework before embarking on an adventure in Burundi.
Travel literature review: Crazy River
Crazy River by Richard Grant Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reviewed by Steve Waters 'Money changes all the iron rules into rubber bands', observed the esteemed Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński. Though he was referring to Iran, it could easily apply to Africa, a continent he covered in intimate detail across decades of upheavals.
Africa - Burundi (Chapter)
Burundi is an incongruous mix of soaring mountains, languid lakeside communities and a tragic past blighted by ethnic conflict. Until recently, many of the upcountry attractions had been off limits. But Burundi is safer now than it has been for years and Burundians have an irrepressible joie de vivre. The steamy capital, Bujumbura, has a lovely location on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Burundi destination guides
East Africa: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s East Africa guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.