Tag Archives: Bujumbura

27 hours in seat F3

17 Nov

Sunrises are generally a very tranquil moment to reflect on your life but when you watch two consecutive ones from the same bus seat they sort of lose their appeal. I needed to leave Burundi due to visa issues and I found a bus that took me from Bujumbura to Dar es Salam, the only catch was that it took 27 hours. I luckily got a seat at the back of the bus in the middle so I could put my legs down the aisle but that is where the luxury stopped. There were 5 seats in the back row with 7 people squeezed into them. For the next 27 hours I sweated in my seat but I eventually made it to my destination. $20 for a 1509 km bus ride, I think this is one time I should have shelled out for something a little nicer.


The Black Market

12 Nov

Have you ever wondered where your nice camera or laptop goes after you’re robbed? In East Africa the black market trade is actually pretty sophisticated. Anything stolen in Kampala will immediately get sent to another major city like Bujumbura or Kigali so there is no way of tracing it. From there the goods are sold and whatever extra the seller gets for the product he keeps and then sends the rest to where the good came from. You can get almost anything for very cheap if you know the ‘right’ people but this traveler decided to keep Karma on his side and turned down the temptation.


Meeting Mathieu

12 Nov

I was using my best French to talk to the information ladies in Bujumbura to figure out how much taxis costed around the city when a young guy came up and started talking to me in English. He was a university student on holiday break and he said he would just drive us around if I covered the gas. He ended up being much more than a guide as he showed me much more than the average tourist sees. We toured the black market since he needed a new laptop and we even tried getting into the DRC but even his persuasion skills couldn’t quite manage that. I also needed an extension on my visa which costs $40USD but he had friends in high places and only set me back $10, which I am sure ended up in a pocket. It is always great to be shown around by someone who really knows a city well and a huge thanks to Mathieu for doing that!


Avoid non-essential travel

8 Nov

The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has the following to say about Burundi:

 OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Burundi. While the general situation in the country has started to stabilize as a result of peace agreements between the National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebel group and the Government of Burundi, sudden outbreaks of violence and civil unrest are still likely to take place throughout Burundi, including around FNL demobilization camps. There are large amounts of small arms and weapons in circulation, easily available to various groups. Violent attacks and ambushes by former soldiers, rebel forces, and youth gangs against humanitarian workers, including foreigners, occur frequently. These incidents include robbery and murder. The presence of refugees returning from Rwanda and Tanzania also continues to exacerbate tensions.

Like the sensible traveler I am, after reading this I decided to go anyways. I am definitely glad I made the decision because Bujumbura was an amazing city. I didn’t feel unsafe once and people were a lot more welcoming then they were in the neighbouring country of Rwanda. The one thing people in Bujumbura know how to do well is party and it doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, naturally I fit in quite well. The local drop was Amstel Bock and you can guess this traveler had his fair share.


Bujumbura, Burundi.