I stayed for two nights at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika in April 2014 and very much enjoyed the experience. I was able to take advantage of a package deal (room, breakfast and dinner) for the first night, but had to pay full price for the second night (B&B only).
I was very pleased with my spacious room, which was right on the beach, with great views of the lake and of the mountains of the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) in the distance. The air-conditioning (which I found necessary, as daytime temperatures were in the low 30s) worked efficiently and there was always plenty of hot water. My bathroom came with a full-length bath (with plug), and that was also very welcome. I was able to access the Internet easily from my room (free of charge). The room was attractively furnished, with numerous 'ethnic' touches. Although I didn't make use of it, the large swimming pool looked very enticing, although on Saturdays and Sundays it is very crowded and noisy, as many well-heeled local families spend the day round it. The food at the hotel is generally very good, as is the service. Indeed, I found all the staff I came across courteous, well-trained and pleasant.
There are pleasant walks along the beach in both directions, although I didn't think it was very clean (it is, after all, a public beach). I even spotted some shards of broken glass. It is possible to swim in the lake, though hippos are seen there from time to time. They could do with placing a few more tables and chairs on the beach.
If you turn left when you leave the hotel and head towards the border with the DRC, you will pass the attractive Rusizi Natural Reserve, which is home to hippos, crocs and a range of aquatic birds. I would recommend hiring a launch for 45 minutes - but not during the heat of the day. I hired one with three other visitors and we paid 100,000 Burundian francs between us (just under 10 pounds sterling each). It was a most enjoyable cruise and the guide who accompanied us was very knowledgeable about birds. We spotted hippos, but no crocs, sadly.
On Sunday afternoons, a group of traditional Burundian drummers performs on the beach (turn left as you face the lake and walk along the beach for ten minutes or so until you reach the Keza Hotel on Saga Plage). They are colourful and energetic, but be warned that you have to pay to take photos of them (5,000 Burundian francs for two photos only, 15,000 for as many as you like).
The hotel also offers a free shuttle-bus service to and from Bujumbura, which takes only 15 minutes. The road is in a pretty awful condition, with numerous potholes, some of them rather deep. Bujumbura is quite safe to walk around during the day; however, doing so after dark is not recommended. There really are no 'sights' as such. However, the centre is well laid-out and there are some fine - though crumbling - examples of 1920s and 1930s European architecture. Sadly, the central market was gutted by fire a few years ago. In general, there is an air of neglect. Given that Burundi is considered to be one of the five poorest countries in the world, perhaps this is not so surprising. For a coffee break, I would recommend the splendid Cafe Gourmand (which sells cakes which would not look out of place in a Parisian patisserie) or Aroma Cafe (on boulevard de l'Uprona); and for lunch, the outdoor leafy courtyard restaurant at Hotel Botanika, which is located on the same street as Aroma Cafe, just a few doors down from it. If by chance you miss the shuttle bus back to the hotel, a taxi should cost between 7,000 and 10,000 Burundian francs.
There are signs of wear and tear and neglect, so I wouldn't give the hotel a five star rating. I would also agree with some reviewers that it is a bit overpriced. I would certainly stay there again, but only if I were able to take advantage of one of their all-inclusive weekend packages, which do offer good value for money, in my view.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika**** is located in a wide park that ends up on a marvelous beach on the banks of the Lake Tanganyika. The hotel offers to his guests a luxurious and relaxing accommodation in an intimate environment and at only 5 km from the city center and the airport. Noted as the most beautiful resort of Lake Tanganyika shores, it is a four star hotel, that offers a wide variety of good quality services. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Du Lac Tanganyika