This is part of the Sixth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Rwanda
30/1/00 The border was quiet. Two cars passing in the 30 mins out of Rwanda and another thirty minutes into Burundi. Our luggage being checked at both customs. $US 20.00 visas issued on the spot, three days, extendable in Bujumbura, and no payment for the motorcycle. We hardly noticed the change after the border, still the friendly waves from the people and happy smiles. The refugee villages now gone though as Burundi hasn't stopped creating refugees to start resettling them and the military presence increasing the closer we were to Bujumbura. Two armed soldiers positioned every 500m along the road. On the outskirts of town remains only the overgrown shells of whole suburbs destroyed in fighting a few years ago. The city now functioning normally and our hotel cheap, modern with hot and cold water. Foreign currency (US) readily changed at the border or on the street (black market rate 1100 to 1).
31/1/00 We spent the day with an American missionary, born in the area to missionary parents who have now been in Burundi for over 50 years. Their mission was out of town but about ten years ago the government wanted the land and resettled them on the outskirts where the main fighting took place a few years later. Twice robbed and used as a refuge for fleeing people the mission basically survived but the surrounding houses were all destroyed. People are now returning to the shells of houses but at 85 years of age it must be difficult for the missionaries to grasp enthusiasm to rebuild. The military government still won't allow people to live at the mission, won't allow tourists to stay there (not that there are any) and won't allow the use of the lake for pleasure craft except on weekends. The roads to the west and south are not recommended and even the road we came in on yesterday is considered risky from rebel attacks.
1/2/00 A ride across the top of Lake Tanganyika, the longest fresh water lake in the world and the second deepest, towards the Democratic Republic of Congo's border. Again there is a lot of new development along the sandy beach shore line, plus the renovation of partly destroyed lakeside hotels. Further around the swampy inlet to the lake people grow wetland rice and reedy grasses for baskets and building. The "Talls" as the Tutsi are referred to as opposed to the "Shorts" for the Hutu's seem very entrepreneurial and although in the minority control the government, army and business. This is an obvious cause of conflict, a reason for holding back democracy, leading to thousands of deaths.
2/2/00 Headed out along a reasonable sealed road next
to the Congo (Zaire) border gradually rising towards mountains with the Rusizi
River, the border just to our left. The small border crossing 30 mins out
of Burundi, much hassles by the immigration official wanting bribes, all the
locals paying money, we politely refused and 20 mins later moved into Rwanda.
Move with us to Rwanda
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,