After an original stint in D.R.C. to study the mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey first came to Rwanda in 1967, initially helped by Joan and Alan Root the famous wildlife film makers. Dian went on to establish her own research centre in the saddle between the dormant volcanoes Karisimbi & Visoke - aptly named ‘KARISOKE RESEARCH CENTRE’. She was one of Leakey’s Angels (aka the trimates); women chosen by anthropologist Louis Leakey to study primates in their natural environments, with fellow members Jane Goodall and Birute Galdikas. A book covering her unique time studying the gorillas titled ‘GORILLAS IN THE MIST’ was published in 1983 and infamously made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver in 1988. Tragically Dian was murdered in her remote cabin in the mountains in 1985, suspected to have been carried out by poachers although her death remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Dian was a true pioneer in the world of conservation and left behind her a lasting legacy in the protection of the Mountain gorillas.
You will drive to the start of the trek at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, where you will checkin at 7:00am. The hike takes 1.5 - 2 hours to the top which includes stopping for breaks and water, where you will be escorted by armed Rwandan Park Rangers. A park guide will also accompany you and provide information on Dian Fossey, her research centre and the vegetation along the way.
You will pass through beautiful stretches of forest filled with magical looking plant life such as Hagenia – Hypericum. There is a chance of seeing forest elephants, buck, numerous birds and if you are extremely lucky even a gorilla. The terrain is very steep in places so a reasonable level of fitness required, it’s likely to be very muddy so good walking shoes are highly recommneded. We also recommend using walking sticks that are on offer and to hire porters from the headquarters to assist you through tricky parts of the hike.
Once you reach the top, you can visit the ruins of Dian’s former house, the gorilla graveyard where Dian is buried next to her beloved gorilla Digit and many others. You will have 1 hour to explore the area, followed by 1 hour to descend back, where you will return to your hotel in time for lunch but it is recommended that you pack snacks and water for the trek
Located in the town centre of Musanze, is the KARISOKE RESEARCH CENTRE, which is run by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), an international gorilla conservation organization. It is open every day for visitors from 08:00am -16:00pm, with a free entrance, and is a 30 minute drive from Volcanoes national park headquarters The centre can be visited the day before your gorilla hike or after your morning trek in the afternoon.
3 ROOMS OF EXHIBIT:
Learn about the similarities and differences between man and primates and a wealth of other information on mountain gorillas in particular.
DIAN FOSSEY ROOM:
Displaying a number of personal items recovered from her original research centre as well as a host of artefacts related to her gorilla conservation efforts.
THE VIRTUAL VIRUNGA ROOM:
Houses a large three-dimensional visualization of mountain gorillas including data, satellite imagery and topographic map, all electronically projected through a bed of sand. Elsewhere in this room you can learn of all the threats to the Mountain Gorilla populations.