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As already mentioned in the first article about our Burundian adventure, together with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Post and Tourism as well as the Burundi tourist board and with the support of Brussels Airlines we organized a very special fam- and press trip to Burundi. 8 days, 3 journalists and 3 tour operators from Germany as well as 2 COMPASS consultants accompanying the tour, Guillermo Ribes and Henriette Stieger.
You have not read the first article yet? You may find it useful to read this one first then. Click here.
After having slept at the newly build hotel Tropitel in Gitega, we left in the morning after the breakfast for a city tour. Gitega, the former capital of the Kingdom of Burundi, offers some beautiful architectural remainders from its royal times. Moreover, you may also find some German influences in buildings dating back to the German colonial period.
Following, we drove up a little north from Gitega to Gishora where we visited the Sacred Santuary of the Burundian drummers. After a short introduction by an elderly drummer who explained about the history of the drummers in general, that had been the King’s drummers in the past, and how they became sacred in the early 19th century, we were invited to see the drummers perform. Every beat from the drums was roaring back to our stomachs, impressive, really! But how much can we tell, see for yourself in our short video.
After a relaxed lunch, enjoying the sun, our journey continued to Rutana where we would spend the night at the Peace Lodge. We used some last daylight to stroll around this small village, soaking up some local ‘after-work’ social get-together atmosphere.
The coming morning we were leaving fairly early to another big highlight on our itinerary: the Source of the Nile. But let me clarify that a bit more, it is the most southern source of the White Nile. There we took a walk up to the Pyramid and down to the actual source. You can observe that there still is a lot of work going on. Furthermore, it also applied for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Next on our agenda was a visit to the German crater at Nyakazu, a massive gorge like scenery, very close to the border to Tanzania that offers spectacular views. The story behind this natural monument is that German soldiers entered Burundi from Tanzania at this very place during World War I. There can actually still be found some remainders of a German fortification. Not far from there, we were welcomed by the accompanying team of the Tourist Board for a pick-nick just next to the Karera Waterfalls – quite an impressive lunch location. Afterwards, we took a 1-hour walking tour to a second waterfall which could have also been supplemented by a further tour to a third waterfall which unfortunately did not fit into our tight agenda. However, some of us seemed not overall disappointed about this fact…
We continued our tour in the early afternoon via Nyanza-Lac at Lake Tanganyika where we visited the Burton-Speke monument and watched some live entertainment by the Agasimbo dancers. Just around 1.5 hours later we arrived at our accommodation for the night, the Blue Bay Beach resort, a lodge like facility. Beautifully located next to the lake where we got spoiled with dinner at the beach with some live guitar music.
The next morning was reserved for a sleep in and some time to relax at the beach, an invitation all participants happily followed. Before returning from here to Bujumbura that day, we enjoyed lunch at Rumonge markets with freshly fished Mukeke from a stock.
Before returning to Hotel Club du Lac where we had already stayed the very first night of our visit, we visited the Livingstone-Stanley monument. Historians argue about the true story behind it as some claim this would be the place where the famous explorer and missionary Dr. David Livingstone and the journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley first met and the famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” originated. However, sources indicate that this famous first meeting took place in Ujiji, Tanzania. Still a good story to tell.
The night started with a gorgeous dinner at Belvedere Restaurant overlooking Bujumbura’s beautiful lights, together with the honorable minister for Trade, Industry, Post and Tourism, Mrs. Victoire Ndikumana as well as some further tourism officials as well as local and international donors. Minister Ndikumana addressed some warm words to the German delegation stressing the importance of the tourism sector for the economic development of Burundi as well as about the importance of the German source market. The evening felt much like dinner with friends as opposed to dinner with political officials: Relaxed atmosphere and really much laughing!
The second last day of our tour started with a boat trip on Lake Tanganyika and Rusizi River where we could observe some Hippo families and crocodiles. Most of this day our journalists spent apart from our tour operators as we had organized together with them an individual program better serving their “story-telling-needs”, including for example an interview with an local NGO, a meeting with a female artist etc. The tour operators were awaited by local operators for a speed-dating at the Bora-Bora Beach Resort. After lunch, the tour operators undertook a hotel-seeing-tour through Bujumbura as well as a short sneak peak of the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo. A day-trip from here to do Gorilla trekking could serve as added value to a Burundi travel package.
We finished this day off with a delicious dinner at “Le Maquis” and started our Bujumbura nightlife tour. Starting with a club called Mukolomboka filled with Burundian beats and a crowded dance floor, quite some sweeping atmosphere. Next stop Havana Bar where we just took a quick tour and decided to leave for some more dancing moves at the club Toxic – a trendy hot spot of the capital. We continued dancing until late that night, quite appropriately for our last night!
The last day was reserved for relaxing a bit and doing some souvenir shopping, “interrupted” by some lunch at the African restaurant “Baobab”. Our guide Valentin and his colleague Christian accompanied us then to Bujumbura airport. Not just a Farewell then rather certainly a Goodbye – See you next time!
Protocol-like we ended our exciting tour of this beautiful and surprising country with some local-made pineapple wine before heading back to our homes in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Leipzig and Cologne!
We would like to thank all participants for this awesome trip – great group dynamics! As well as we like to thank, of course, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Post and Tourism for providing us with this unique chance and the Burundi tourist board for being such a hospitable host, taking care of all the little details and responding so flexible to all individual needs and wishes!
All the best to Burundi,
Henriette and Guillermo