A Tour Of Burundi Includes Tracking Chimpanzees – TheTravel

Burundi is endowed with parks and natural reserves and a rich culture and history dating back to when it was ruled by kings.
Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, and its capital city is Gitega, but Bujumbura is the largest city. A less traveled destination, it is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Though a relatively tiny country, Burundi is endowed with parks and natural reserves and rich culture and history dating back to when it was ruled by kings. So there is plenty to see and do while visiting this country.
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Established in 1955, Gitega National Museum has collections of different musical instruments and weapons and photos of past Burundi monarchies. Visitors to the museum also learn about the country's modern struggles, like the ethnic wars and genocide. Near the museum are the Ibwami, a Burundian royal court, and a few royal drum sanctuaries for Karyenda, the traditional drum.
Within the museum is the Living Museum of Bujumbura (Musee Vivant), which has a reptile house, aquarium, aviary, open-air theater, and botanical gardens. Inside the Musee, Vivant, are pottery, drums, baskets, and other traditional handicrafts. The reptile house has snakes, crocodiles and birds, and a preserved fish from Lake Tanganyika. A typical Burundian village at the museum educates visitors about the Burundian people's culture, and they even "live it" while visiting.
Drumming is entrenched in Burundian culture, and the Gishora Drum Sanctuary is one of the country's most eminent drum sites and was founded by King Mwezi Gisabo after gaining victory over his rebellious enemy Chief Ntibirangwa. Today the sanctuary is managed by a local community with descendants of the ancient lineage of the Abanyigisaka tribe, who were ritualists with privileges to the royal court.
Drums signified the political power of the monarchy and were beaten on special occasions by the families of the Abatimbo, like the Ingendanyi drum. The occasions included royal enthronement, sowing festivals, and funerals of kings. The sanctuary also has two ritual drums that were never beaten, called the Ruciteme and Murimirwa.
Tracking chimpanzees at Kibira National Park is one of the main reasons tourists love to visit Burundi. Chimpanzees at this park are similar to those in Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda and live in communities led by a dominant Alpha Male, and females care for young ones.
Tracking chimpanzees is strenuous and involves following them around the forest for 3 to 5 hours while being in groups of eight and observing them for an hour. Still, they are rare to find, so it's hard to gauge how long it may take to spot them in their habitat and element. Skilled guides and rangers are available to take visitors on these tracking tours.
Basic Chimpanzee Tracking Rules
During the chimpanzee tracking tours, visitors also see the giant forest squirrels, blue monkeys, and the great blue Turaco bird in the forest thickets. For more information, contact Kibira National Park's management at +243971327207 and +1-212-290-4700 or by email at info@kibiranationalparkburundi.com.
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Founded in 1980, Ruvubu National Park is Burundi's largest national park and the choice destination for birding, with over 200 bird species found here. Bird species include the Malagasy pond heron, Denham's bustard, pallid harrier, lesser kestrel, and other water birds like the great white pelican and yellow-billed stork.
The best time to visit Burundi in order to spot these birds is during the rainy season of October to May. Many river tributaries, swampy vegetation, savannah woodland, riverine forests, flowering plants, and floodplain grassland provide the diverse habitat these bird species love nesting in.
Apart from being Burundi's economic hub, Bujumbura city is along the shores of the beautiful Lake Tanganyika, the world's second-deepest lake. The lake is surrounded by mountains, buildings, and grandiose colonial vestiges. Bujumbura's streets have tree-lined boulevards with beautiful beaches and have vibrant nightlife.
Things To Do At Bujumbura

The city is dotted with different restaurants that serve delicious traditional Burundian dishes and French, Italian, and Middle East cuisines. A typical Burundian meal consists of fish or beef brochette, fried plantains, chips, and fresh salad.
Visit Rusizi National Park
Over 9 kilometers away from Bujumbura is Rusizi National Park, where visitors can tour and see wildlife like crocodiles and hippos relaxing on river banks and monkeys, antelopes, and 100 species of flora. Due to its proximity to a city, this is an African safari destination worth a quick tour.
Soak Up The Beaches
This city also has Karera and Saga beaches, where visitors soak up the sun. At Karera beach, visitors can snorkel and swim, and at Saga, they can have fun and entertainment at restaurants, cafes, and bars there, and fish at Lake Tanganyika.
See Performance Arts
Around the city, visitors can watch Burundian drummers performing with their giant drums. Institut français du Burundi, one of the country's leading cultural institutions, hosts musical performances, theater and film programs, and lessons in French and Swahili for tourists and locals. Kirundi French and Swahili are spoken in Bujumbura.
As an African Safari destination, Burundi has a tropical climate and is both hot and humid all year since the country is near the equator. Temperatures range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, and the nights are generally cool. The rainy season starts from September to November and February to May, and it's hot between June and August and December to January. The rainy seasons are the ideal periods to visit Burundi for chimpanzee treks tours since Kibira National Park has abundant food (leaves and fruits) for these primates.
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Below are some tour operators to contact when planning visits to Burundi.
James Karuga is an award-winning print journalist, photographer, documentary filmmaker, and travel writer from Kenya. He has been published on Reuters, Spore Magazine, and How We Made it In Africa. The different creative professions have enabled him to travel to East and West African countries and immortalize special moments on camera and video. A creative with a hearty appetite he will sample different food for free and without shame! Loves writing because it spurs his creativity.