Dian Fossey Grave Hike to Karisoke Research Center
The Dian Fossey Hike is one outstanding trek a tourist can do while near the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Around the same place, is a gorilla cemetery in the formerly Karisoke Research Camp. Karisoke scientific base was set up by Dian Fossey in the supportive area between the two volcanoes; Mount Visoke and Mount Karisimbi. Combining both names, the name name Karisoke was derived. The Karisoke campsite stands at a height of around 3000 meters or 9000 feet above sea level and had been neglected during the political turmoils of the 1990’s.
A hike to the Dian Fossey grave encompasses a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters at Kinigi to the trail head and then a 10-minute walk to the park edges. It is at this point that ascendance via the woodland starts and takes something between 1:30 hours to three hours, basing on one’s fitness and the duration or the extent of one’s scenery enjoyment. On the other hand, descending back to the starting point takes between 1-2 hours. The Dian Fossey trekking gives an opportunity for visitors to watch birds and other wildlife creatures found in the Virungas en route. When you reach the summit of your hiking at the grave site, you will see a house where Dian Fossey was brutally slain in December 1985 but the more comfortable place is where she was laid to rest next to her beloved gorilla, Digit plus roughly 20 more mountain gorillas buried there and were either lynched by poachers or just faced natural deaths.
Dian Fossey was a notable primatologist who committed much her lifetime to studying, researching and conserving the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Her love for the gentle endangered creatures prompted her to set up the Karisoke Research Center in 1967. In 1974, she got a Ph.D in zoology from Cambridge and also tentatively lectured at Cornell. She took much of her time in Africa working on research and fighting poaching by speaking out against it. Dian Fossey’s gorilla work corrected many myths about mountain gorillas as savages. On a sad note, her commitment to gorillas eventually led to her brutal death on December 25, 1985. She was found murdered in her cabin and her killers were most likely the poachers she was always critical of. Her heartless murder still remains an unsolved one in Rwanda.
Despite her death, her works continue through the programmes of different research facilities and bodies. The work of Dian Fossey were further made popular in the Hollywood movie “Gorillas in the Mist” (1988), featuring Sigourney Weaver as Dian. Extracted from her journal, Dian Fossey’s last words were, “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.” Currently, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund helps in the conservation of ten gorilla groups (out of 15 gorilla families) in Rwanda plus many other conservation projects geared towards the plight of mountain gorillas and other mammal species in the region.
The Dian Fossey trek is a thrilling wild experience body-wise, emotionally and from a research or education perspective. The hike is so inspiring to study about a person who was so devoted to gorillas and left a legacy which still exist to the present times. This hike is highly recommend for lovers of gorilla conservation in Rwanda. At present, the park fees to trek Karisoke is USD$ 75 per person, including fees for the guide. The Dian Fossey hike commences at 07:00 am from the Park Kinigi head offices. It is from here that visitors will have to be driven to the starting point for the trekking.