Dian Fossey, was an American Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist who spend much of her life doing research about gorillas from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985 in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. It is still a mystery to know the cause of her death but her death is highly attributed to the poachers because she had advocated for the stop of poaching in the national park. this did not make the poachers happy as she was sabotaging their practice of poaching in the park. She was born in San Francisco, California, USA on January 16, 1932.
In i967, she took a trip to East Africa, where she met the anthropologist Louis Leakey and had her first encounter with mountain gorillas. She returned to the United States after her trip, but in 1966 Louis convinced her to come back to Africa and study the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat on along term basis. In 1967 she returned to Rwanda and established the Karisoke research center in volcanoes national park where she carried out her work, through patient effort, she was able to observe the gorillas and accustom them to her presence, and the data she had gathered greatly enlarged contemporary knowledge of the gorilla habits, communication, and social behavior. It is through her efforts that the number of mountain gorillas increased otherwise if it was not her presence in the park the numbers would have drastically reduced or even become extinct. Fossey is greatly for her contributions towards the study and conservation of mountain gorillas. Unfortunately, she was murdered on 26th December 1985 in volcanoes national park Rwanda and her body was buried on 31st December 1985 at the gorilla cemetery at the Karisoke research center. she was buried near best gorilla friend Digit. Her legacy is still remembered around the world.
To take a hike to Dian Fossey grave, you need a permit to access the tomb. The permit can be bought in advance at the Rwanda development board in Kigali or even at the national park headquarters in Kinigi on the hiking date since this activity is not as popular as gorilla tracking where you have to buy the permit at least three months in advance due to high demand. The permit for the hike is $75 and includes a professional park guide who will accompany you during the trek. Make sure you are sure of the exact date you will be visiting because you can’t change the date once the permit is issued otherwise you have to pay again in case you change the date.
The hike is not as difficult as such but levels of fitness are required, the incline at the start of the hike is somehow challenging. The hike takes about two hours to get to the grave with stopovers for water and resting. The terrain is very slippery especially during the rainy season but walking sticks are provided to support you during the walk.
Volcanoes national park can be accessed both from Kigali and Gisenyi, from Kigali you can take a bus that will take you to Musanze approximately two hours’ drive from Kigali by bus and one hour by bus from Gisenyi to Musanze. Note that y there is no public means of transport from Musanze to Kinigi park headquarters, so one must hire a 4x 4 vehicle to take him/her to the park headquarters to register and get the briefing. The briefing starts at 7 am at the same time all other activities in the park start. After the briefing, you will get back to your vehicle and drive to the starting point. Please note that a 4×4 vehicle is needed as the road to the starting point is very bad.
On the trek you are likely to see animals like Buffalos, elephants, duiker, birds, different species of trees, and if you are lucky you can even meet mountain gorillas on the way.
What do I need to pack for the hike?
Where can I stay in Volcanoes National Park?
There is a variety of accommodation options both in Musanze and Kinigi, the budget you have will determine the type of accommodation you will choose. Accommodations range from basic, mid-range, and luxury. Some of the budget lodges are Kinigi guest house and Muhabura hotel for mid-range you can try mountain gorilla view lodge or Lebambou lodge, for luxury, Bisate lodge and Kwitonda Songa lodge are the best options.