LIFE IS A BEACH

Discover the joy of life at Burundi’s beaches

By Manu Gome

Burundi_BeachIt is one thing to love the beach; another to have a beach culture.

You know a country’s citizens love the beach when you visit one on a Sunday afternoon to find thousands of bikini-clad folk, wearing designer shades, frolicking in the sand and playing in the water.

But if you find, among this teeming crowd, hundreds of mothers carrying babies at their backs, teenage Muslim girls- wrapped up in hijabs- running up and down on the beach, and beggars and street children alternating their rounds of ‘work’ with diving and splashing in the water, then you have a people for whom the experience of going to the beach is a very part of the fabric of society; this is a Beach Culture, and Burundi has one.

Because it shares a large chunk of its south western border with Lake Tanganyika, Burundi boasts some spectacular beaches along the shoreline of the world’s longest lake (It is 600km in length).

No wonder the interaction with the lake is such a firmly fixed routine in the lives of the locals.

It is also one you should not miss when you are in Burundi.

There are a number of nice places you can visit in Burundi, where the atmosphere is great and the beaches world class.

You could visit Bora Bora beach or the famous Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika or even The Royal Palm Beach Hotel if you want a first rate experience, with wireless internet, live performances from local bands or traditional musicians and great hotelrestaurants with varied menus you can choose from when you come back, starving, from swimming in Africa’s deepest lake.

Alternatively, if you are the sort that likes to have happy locals milling about every which way, you can try out the other, more low key
that boast little except a bar and a decent waterfront.

What they lack in a wine list and a variety of gins and brews, they more than make up for in the diversity of the crowd.

Check out, for instance, the “New Black and White beach”, and you will be overwhelmed by the sheer crowds of smiling locals who are just out to have some fun.

Everywhere you turn, you will see children running in the sand, lovers giggling over some whispered secret, adults seated in plastic chairs, smoking ‘Yes’ and ‘Intore’ cigs, young people playing pool in a nearby shelter and the frenzied shouts of sweating youths dancing to the latest Swahili and French hits.

The sheer joie de vivre of these places is as infectious as the bewitching beauty of the high-end places is enchanting.

Both are experiences you should not miss.

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