"Africa never stops to surprise me!" Uvira by MikeAtSea
Uvira Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 23 photos
“The border controls to the Democratic Republic of the Congo are terrible, it will take you hours to get through” and “People are unfriendly and difficult”; those were some of the comments received when I announced a quick trip from the Burundi capital Bujumbura.
On a Saturday morning this trip suddenly became reality, as during a meeting with a tour operating company in Bujumbura I said I really would like to have a look how the other side of the Rift Valley looked like. A quick phone call was made that resulted in the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo opening for us for a special visa service on Saturday morning. Astonished we made our way to the Embassy, who took our passports and said that we could come back an hour later.
Arriving an hour later the friendly representative from the Embassy explained that they were just waiting for someone to come to sign the visa, apologizing for the delay. Seats were offered and for about 45 minutes we discussed the situation in the DRC, the changes and problems and the fact that this part of the world is now also opening for tourists. The thoughts of war torn DRC as tourist destination – somehow this did not fit.
During the meeting we were advised that someone from the Embassy would accompany us to ensure that all border formalities were smooth. I was getting more and more astonished by the minute.
Finally our passports returned, with stamped and signed visas and accompanied by our Diplomatic escort we headed off to the border post between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the town of Kavimvira.
Here friendly Burundi immigration and customs rushed us in less then two minutes through the border controls, the head of the border post even taking time to pose for pictures with us.
The bridge over the small border river was crossed and we entered into the DRC.
Several kilometres later we reached the border control of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We were rushed into the office of the head of the border post, and after shaking hands and seats being offered the formalities were completed within a few minutes before we were heading out passed the last check point into the Eastern Congo or Sud Kivu Province.
The first welcome was a road that had potholes the size of cars, passing by UN military bases until we finally reached a proper tar road again and the town of Uvira.
Being a Saturday afternoon Uvira was packed with thousands of shoppers, dwellers and by standers who either came to shop and trade, to wash cars, drink beer, visit church or simply to relax. The picture that unfolded in front of us was a stunning, colourful chaos.
Throughout our stay we met dozens of people of waved and smiled at us, showing us true African hospitality – even though that according to all the newspaper and TV reports we officially had entered a war zone, I did not feel threatened or in danger at any time; but rather respected and welcomed.
Africa never stops to surprise me and I said to our driver Robert and our diplomatic escort that Africa will always be open for positive surprises.
After a short while we returned back to the border post, where again with lightning speed we went through immigration and customs controls.
Tip though – I do believe we were exceptionally lucky in getting the visa in such a short time, and possibly because we travelled to both Burundi and the DRC to investigate the possibilities of tourism opportunities – generally the Embassy of the DRC is open from Monday to Friday and visas are issued within a day.
I will be returning to the Eastern DRC soon for some more in depth travel – so please check back for more soon!
Uvira is adjacent to the towering mountains of the Great Rift Valley. The mountains are part of the Mitumba Mountain... more travel advice
As in other countries around the world the river through the town is the cenral hype of activity. The river in Uvira was... more travel advice
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