Burundi is one of those tiny countries in the world that most people don’t even realize exists. For those that do, it’s likely they’ve only heard negative things, such as the civil war, active rebels, and the fact that Burundi is currently ranked as one of the poorest countries in Africa. I’ve actually known about Burundi since my early travel days. In 1999 I met someone in Tanzania who had knowledge of the country and described the civil war to me. Maybe about five years before I made my trip here I came across Burundi again. In a list of ranking countries on a happiness scale I saw that the Netherlands was happy at number one, but poor Burundi was at rock bottom! I entered Burundi prepared for the worst in every category. Instead, I was surprised to find a nice population, modern roads, and a even a few fancy places in the capital.
Bujumbura has seen some significant improvement after going from constant bombardment and militant attacks to seeing some relative stability. Some developments have come up along the shores of Lake Tanganyikia, while higher up in the foothills you can find some of the city’s fanciest restaurants, a civil war memorial, and beautiful views of the entire city.
The country’s most accessible national park lies close to the capital of Bujumbura. Named after the Rusizi river, the park protects wildlife that live in the dense forests along the Congo border, and the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The park is an excellent place to find hippos, and is also the home of the world famous crocodile Gustave; said to have eaten over 300 people!