Much as gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking are a focus for most travelers to Volcanoes national park, a hike to the graveyard of Dian Fossey, an American primatologists who sacrificed her life to save the mountain gorillas is worth doing. The Dian Fossey grave yard hike is a learning experience for travelers providing them with the in-depth understanding of start of gorilla tourism in Rwanda and how an America primatologist sacrificed her life to save the rare mountain gorillas that where at the verge of extinction by then. Though its obvious that most travelers to volcanoes national park go for gorilla trekking, a hike to Dian Fossey tomb is a not miss on your Rwanda safari. A visit to the graveyard and the karisoke research center is an appreciation of Dian Fossey’s heroism, great love for the mountain gorillas, and the tragedy of her death, which was a starting point for gorilla tourism in Rwanda.
How did Dian Fossey achieve her goals?
It all started in 1967 when the young primatologist reached volcanoes national park only to realize that Mountain gorillas were at the verge of extinction. Dian Fossey funded various projects to protect the gorillas, hired patrols to arrest poachers and gorilla doctors to treat the injured gorillas in poaching which put an end to poaching. Her mission to protect Rwanda’s mountain gorillas started in 1967 when she started her research and ended in 1985 when angry poachers assassinated her. When Dian Fossey made up her mind to die for gorillas, she established a research Centre “karisoke research Centre” between the two volcanoes on Mount Visoke and Karisimbi. Before her death, Dian Fossey extracted a journal in which she emphasized, “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of future”. She started a Dian Fossey gorilla fund project, which has continued to help in the conservation of mountain gorillas and promoting gorilla tourism in volcanoes national park. History tells that the campaign by Dian Fossey against poaching generated hatred and negative attitudes by poachers who revised all means to assassinate her.
What to expect
Since you hike through the territories of mountain gorillas, expect to meet these gentle giants and other wildlife like golden monkeys. Travelers normally wake up early and transfer to Kinigi at the headquarters of Volcanoes national park for a short briefing regarding safety. You then follow a trail outside the dense forest providing them with an opportunity to clearly see the Virunga volcanoes especially karisimbi and Bisoke after which the karisoke research center was named. Besides gorillas, the hiking trail is also a paradise for birders being a hem to a variety of bird species some of which are endemic to the Albertine rift valley and stands at an altitude of roughly 2900m to 3000m above the sea level. On reaching the site, you will witness the grave for Dian Fossey and many others for the mountain gorillas that were killed before and after her by poachers.
Hiking time and dressing code
Hiking to the graves is not as easy as you may think but its quite short lasting for roughly 1-3 hours from the starting point. The hike is not as strenuous as hiking the Virunga volcanoes but its quite tiresome requiring one to be physically fit and committed. To ease the movements, travelers are also reminded to wear hiking boots to overcome the muddy and slippery grounds especially in the rainy season. Similarly, dress in long trousers, which you will tack into stockings to prevent bites from ground insects and being hurt by stinging nettles.
Just like any other popular activity in Volcanoes national park, all participants in hiking to Dian Fossey graveyard are required to have a valid permit. You are also encouraged to carry other relevant travel documents such as passports for clarification. Interestingly, Dian Fossey graveyard hike is experienced at a cost a relatively low cost 75usd that is worth paying. Travelers can access these permits on the actual day of hiking at the karisoke research center.
Conclusively therefore, take part in the hiking the Dian Fossey grave yard , learn more rewarding you with a memorable experience.