Burundi – Awesome tiny Country in Africa

Burundi is an awesome country especially at Lake Tanganyika

16.03.2014
In the morning we tried to leave early, because we had to go until Hotel Nyanza Lac, at Lake Tanganyika which was about 300 km on tar road, but through the mountains. We refueled at the petrol station, filled the jerrycan, because we did not want to get Burundian Francs, so not to fuel up in Burundi. After 20 km we had reached the border, this time Rwanda and Burundi shared one building. So the Rwanda officer stamped us out, at the Burundi desk we had to pay for the visa 40 US $ for a transit Visa, and we had to pay road tax, but in Burundi Francs. So I had to change some dollars to francs (20 $), then the lady officers checked our car and we where about to go, when the Lady officer remembered about insurance, so we had to get out and buy an insurance for Burundi. It had almost worked without it, but I had to buy one for 20$ which took another half hour to make all the papers. So our plan to go through Burundi without need to withdraw money did not fulfill, we had to try to get some cash later in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. All in all this border crossing was very hassle free and we were driving through hilly landscape just beautiful. What we realized immediately, that there were a lot of people walking along the street, or even sitting on the street, so despite good tarmac, the average speed was about 50 km/h.

The women here were dresses more colorful than in the other countries, latest fashion was an orange head scarf, which could be seen for miles. We enjoyed it driving here and late afternoon we descended to mountains down to Bujumbura, the capital, which is situated at Lake Tanganyika, and immediately the temperatures rose again above 30, which is so pleasant for us. We had really marvelous views to the lake and the feeling to see Lake Tanganyika for the first time was overwhelming. Luckily it was Sunday, so not much traffic and could easily find an ATM where we could withdraw money. There is rumor, that withdrawing money can only be done at one certain bank, which we cannot confirm, as we found several, where this was possible. On the way we stopped to buy bananas (3 US$ per piece), which was rather cheap. From Bujumbura the road leads directly along the Lake, a lot of potholes and just before sunset we reached Hotel Nyanza Lac. The raster guy was quite nice, offered camping for 15.000 or a room for 30.000 (18 Us$), and as we were tired we took a room, where you could look at the lake from your bed – amazing. As a welcome he brought some samosas as a present, nice filled with meat and we were glad that we could rest, sit in front of our room, watching at the lake and having cold beer. Tara was really exhausted, for her it gets more difficult to drive long days, but some times we cannot avoid this.

Burundi - Lake Tanganyika
Burundi – Lake Tanganyika

17.03.2014
In the morning we left early, I refueled from one of the jerrycans, because we did not withdraw too much, as it was only a few kilometers to the Tanzanian border. We regret that we had not have a regular one month visa, because we liked Burundi very much and were thinking of staying longer in this beautiful country. In the next bigger village there was a bank where we could change the Burundi Francs to US $ again, and then the road led through really steep mountains, often only in first gear, until we reached a little village, where we had to stamp out our passports at immigration. It took us quite a while to find immigration, the officers were nice, stamped out without any hassle. I asked him which road to Tanzania and he pointed to a road, which I could not believe that this off road track is the main border crossing to Tanzania. It was about 50 km to the Tanzanian border, so we headed on. The road got even worse, first gear low range 4×4 but somehow after three hours we reached a border beam, where an officer checked our passports and we could exit Burundi.

Burundi - Nyanza Lac Hotel
Burundi – Nyanza Lac Hotel

The tracks4africa said that on Tanzanian side until Kigoma is dirt road as well, so if it would not get better, we could not make it until Kigoma that day. A few hundred meters after the Burundi border, somewhere in the nowhere, a perfect tar road started and after one kilometer we reached the Tanzanian border post. The immigration officer was very friendly, issued our visas for three month, (50 US $ per person) then sent us to Revenue Authority to pay for the road tax (20 Us$ per month), but you only can pay for one month after that you have to renew, and again a hassle free border crossing. Yes the road is tar until Kigoma. So we were confident to make it there today. A few kilometers after the border we were stopped by police. In Tanzania they are not so friendly at all, and the officer wanted to see our local insurance, which of course we did not have, where should we have bought it. That was my argument, his was different, so it started a lot of ugly discussions and loud words, but before it escalated he let us go, as he realized he will not get money from us.

In Kigoma we first went for the local insurance, 60.000 (30 $) for three month (first the girls wanted 100.000 for a year), then to airtel to get SIM cards and internet bundle and now we started to look for an accommodation, where we could stay for some days, Tara was really at her end and she needed some days rest. The first on a hill was just not suited for our needs, the other one was a campsite outside of Kigoma at the lake, which demanded ridiculous 20 US$ for nothing, no power, no hot water, no nothing. But we got the address of Aqua Lodge where they should have reasonable priced rooms. Eventually we found the place, 12 US $ per room, with little porch where you could look at the Lake, private bathroom, a good place to stay. We checked in, Tara hardly could walk anymore, so I had to carry her down some stairs, she did not look to good, it simply was too much driving for her. Soon we all fell asleep.

http://www.african-road-trip.com/