Burundi’s former capital city, Bujumbura threw up yet another oddball on our 2019 East African adventure. This country was less than obvious addition to the schedule. A tough visa process, a country bereft of tourists and indeed a country which prompted a good friend of mine to comment “I’ve never even heard of that country”. We heard of it, we booked our flights, we got the visa (after 4 weeks of trying and waiting) and we landed on a very short 22 minute flight from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city. That’s right – the visa took 4 weeks yet the flight took 22 minutes!
While Bujumbura is no longer the capital city (Burundi moved it to Gitega in February 2019), it is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and for me, was the perfect place to stay.
We arrived on a RwandAir flight and were picked up on arrival by Val, owner of the newest and coolest accommodation option in Bujumbura, Burundi – Urban Lodge.
Despite once hearing reports of tourist arrests, corruption, war and deceit in Burundi’s history, from the moment we arrived at immigration to the moment we left, we never felt uncomfortable or unsafe here. I don’t blog as much as I used to of course, back in the glory days of Don’t Stop Living, I’d have written about 7 or 8 posts on Burundi. These days, 1, maybe 2 or 3 maximum will suffice. Here’s what we thought about our room here at the Urban Lodge.
1.Cosy Back Garden
Chill out in the back garden here, it’s an enclosed patio garden area. The bar serves up delicious drinks ranging from pineapple juice to local beers (made by Amstel, but brewed in Burundi). I also toured some other bars in Burundi on my trip.
A tasty and typical African breakfast is served at Urban Lodge. Coffee and fruit juice, tropical fruit and an omelette. We enjoyed it in the front garden. We got up at 7 am for ours but generally it can be tailored to you between 6.30 and 9 am.
3.Well Priced – The Backpacker Option
Burundi hasn’t really taken off as a backpacker’s place yet and so finding cheap and easy accommodation can be difficult. I am a long term backpacker and loved this place, I recommend it for any backpackers out there visiting Burundi. Also – something quirky – Malina and I were the first backpackers to book this place on Booking.com! Owner Val celebrated by buying us some drinks! I hope that Urban Lodge will cement itself as the best, coolest and only Backpacker’s resort in Burundi. $30 US per person a night is great value for a place this relaxing and luxury. We had a twin room, $60 US.
4.Free and Fast Wi-Fi
It was a surprise to me to get free and fast Wi-Fi here at the Urban Lodge in Bujumbura, Burundi. Val the owner even allowed Malina to use his Wi-Fi in the car to address an important business matter!
5.Safety and Security
Burundi has not been shy about its political problems or unrest the last few years. Corruption, bribery, theft and even targetting tourists all exists here. The Lonely Planet in 2018 (wrongly) advised tourists to avoid Burundi and the UK government advised against all but essential travel to the country. Urban Lodge was a safe haven for us – we were picked up from the airport and made to feel at home here. Here are some more photos from Urban Lodge – a true haven for us in Burundi.
I really enjoyed my time in Burundi and have to say that the UK government and Lonely Planet were totally wrong. As with most things in life, we make our own minds up. Burundi, in particular Lake Tanganyika is well worth a trip.
Other included facilities at the Urban Lodge in Bujumburu, Burundi:
- Air conditioning
- Free bottled water
- Ironing facilities
- Wake-up service
- Clothes rack
- Smoke detector
Here are the details for booking a room at the Urban Lodge in Bujumbura:
Here are some videos from my time at the Urban Lodge in Bujumbura, Burundi: