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Burundi Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT +2.

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two pin attachment plugs and round pin plugs with receptacle or male grounding pin are standard.

Language

French and Kirundi are the official languages and Swahili is widely spoken along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area.

Travel Health

There have been cases of cholera confirmed in Burundi. Chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistant malaria is a major concern in Burundi and travellers should take the necessary prophylactics containing lariam, malarone or doxycycline. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if coming from an infected area or visiting any area outside of the main cities. Travellers should be wary of kiosk foods and drink only bottled or boiled water. Burundi's medical facilities are very basic. Travellers should ensure they have health insurance covering evacuation by air ambulance.

Tipping

A 10% tip at restaurants is customary. Porters should also be tipped a few dollars.

Safety Information

Travellers should consult the nearest Burundi embassy regarding the security situation before embarking on travel to Burundi. Since democratic elections and a ceasefire agreement in 2005, Burundi has returned for the most part, to a normal state of affairs and is enjoying an increasing influx of tourists. Travel to the rural border areas with the Democratic Republic of Congo should be avoided as cross border fighting by armed guerrillas from both sides occurs sporadically. Travellers should be aware of the still-active rebel group, the Forces Nationales de la Liberation (FNL), who attack government forces and civilians intermittently, but mostly travellers to Burundi tend to gravitate toward Bujumbura and therefore should be more concerned with threats such as pick pocketing, purse snatching, armed robbery and petty crime. Locals should be consulted about the presence of crocodiles and hippopotamus along the border of the lake. Travellers should also exercise caution after dark, avoid walking alone and be aware of curfew laws.

Local Customs

Respect for elders is practiced with conviction in Burundi and travellers should adopt a similar philosophy when interacting with locals.

Business

The business world in Burundi is relatively undeveloped. Lightweight suits should be worn to formal meetings, which are usually conducted in French. An interpreter should be organised beforehand. Handshakes are important in Burundi and formal meetings often include food and drink, which is considered rude to turn down. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5.30pm. During the hotter months, a longer lunch break is taken.

Communications

The international dialling code for Burundi is +257. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). There is good mobile phone coverage in the western area of the county and a handful of Internet cafés can be found in Bujumbura.

Duty Free

Travellers are allowed to import 1,000 cigarettes or 1,000 grams of tobacco, one litre of alcohol and a reasonable amount of perfume. Cameras should be declared on arrival.

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