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Some reasons why you might consider traveling to Burundi.
The country is divided into 17 provinces (Cibitoke, Kayanza, Ngozi, Kirundo, Muyinga, Bubanza, Muramvya, Gitega, Karuzi, Cankuzo, Bujumbura Rural, Bujumbura Mairie, Mwaro, Ruyigi, Bururi, Rutana, Makamba). Below the province level, there are "communes" in rural areas and "quartiers" in the capital, with a total of 117 of such groupings. Beneath this, there are several lower levels of administration, including the sector, the 2 639 "collines", or hillside, and the smallest grouping, the "Nyumba Kumi" or "group of 10 houses."
Burundi is one of the ten least developed countries in the world and it has one of the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi's low GDP rate is due primarily to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, political instability and the consequences of HIV/AIDS. Cobalt and copper are among the nation's natural resources. Other resources include coffee, sugar and tea. Burundi guards all the elements that constitute its very rich culture: dances, musical rhythms, and handicrafts. The cultural inheritance from their forefathers and ancestors is evidenced by their traditional heirlooms and dances. Burundi's population today is mostly comprised of the Hutu ethnic group (85%) followed by the Tutsi (14%) and Twa (1%).
- 1 Bururi Forest Natural Reserve — The Natural reserve of Bururi is a 3300 ha expanse of altitude damp forest. The town of Bururi offers visitors this wonderful panorama, to visit the park first go to the INECN office in Bururi, it’s not common knowledge among Bururians that you have to do this first. If you are told that there is no entry fee and no guides are available, this is not true. At the office you can pay the entry fee (FBu5,000) and arrange a guide FBu5,000. In this place there are about 117 species of birds and 25 species of mammals have been identified in a forestland surrounding of multifarious vegetation. On a walking circuit along the botanical lanes and trails of this forest the visitor will fully enjoy the wild coolness of our mountains densely covered with trees of many different species. This region is 33 km from Roumonge. The road through it will drive you from the lakes along miles of hallucinating and breathtaking panoramas.
- 2 Kibira National Park. At the apex of the Zaire-Nile, with its 40,000 ha of preserved forests, this the largest completely untouched natural area in Burundi. Its wild life constitutes a shelter for chimpanzees, baboons, cercophitecus (a monkey) and black colobes scattering away to the approach of human beings. The park is criss-crossed by a network of 180 km of tracks and paths mainly used by guard car patrols and motorized tourists. The guards of the park will scout you in the wood undercover where you will be able to discover the fascinating attraction of the primeval forest and the charming songs of birds. Mountain chains hide thermal springs, and the access to the park is made through the tea plantations of Teza and Rwegura which count among the best natural sceneries.
- 3 Nyakazu Break and the Karera Falls — The natural Forest Reserves of Roumonge, Kigwena and Mugara are in course of development to enable chimpanzees and cercopithecuses to find enough food to stay there and procreate. The thermal waterfalls situated in the Mugara reserve will enable you to lend yourselves to natural massage simply by taking showers under these waters raised from the earth’s bosom. The very near beaches of Tanganyika provide an opportunity for a swim and rest.
- 4 Rusizi Natural Reserve — The Natural Reserve of Rusizi will be your first visit in Burundi for the simple reason that it is very near the capital city of Bujumbura. The River Delta extends over 500 ha of vegetation made of Phragmites mauritianus. It is a natural shelter for few families of antelopes and hippopotamuses that come here in quest of grazing land. At the end of the track if you are lucky enough you may meet with a few crocodiles fast asleep on the golden sand of the river banks. The Rusizi palm groves (situated on the Cibitoke road 10 km away from Bujumbura) is also an exceptional landscape that will no doubt make your mind drift away from your day to day preoccupations. It offers to the visitor a rich vegetation completely adapted environment gratified by only a few sparse rains, made of euphorbia, thorny bushes and tall palm trees of the Hyphaena bengalensis var ventricosa species. Right in the deepest part of the reserve you will be able to admire the natural ponds left by the Rusizi meanders. This place is a paradise for birds which come by the hundred and feed themselves by dive-fishing. If you are patient enough you will be able to see some hippopotamuses paddling in the shallow waters.
- 5 Ruvubu National Park — The National Park of Ruvubu lies on the banks of the Ruvubu River and is limited by high rise mountains. It was freed from human inhabitants and returned to complete wild life. The track and length of the path network is approximately 100 km and includes many observation lookouts. You will be accommodated in a newly erected camp and you will be able to tell your friends when you are back home about tracking buffaloes along their trails where the joyful glee of the songs from all the African birds you may think of are heard at every turn.
- 6 Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve — The Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is a real sanctuary for migratory aquatic birds which come to the site by the thousands to reproduce. All these now protected birds can nest more and more on these green swamps and islets of the lake. Crested cranes and herons live there a peaceful live. The visitor can drift along on barges to approach many species of birds without risk of frightening them.
- 7 Vyanda Forest Natural Reserve — This is a forest reserve that can be accessed from the town of Rumonge. The main attraction is the chimpanzees. The facilities for visitors for visitors are almost non-existent but if you go to the INECN office (remember to pronounce it the French way when asking for directions, roughly “ENCN” pronounced the English way) in Rumonge you should be able to organise a visit. It’s generally set up for people with their own transport but a visit by local transport can be arranged. Expect to pay FBu10,000 for entry and guide if you see chimps, FBu5,000 if you don’t. You should be able to arrange transport from Rumonge for around FBu15,000 for a return trip. The chimps here are not habituated to humans so don’t expect the close encounters that are possible in some places.
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