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The Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda is the surest way to learn about the 18-year-old journey of Dian Fossey, an American primatologist in protecting/conserving the endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda which has been fundamental for the survival for many years. This is a typical learning experience for visitors interested in having an insight into the life and commitment of the renowned American conservationist and primatologist, as well as researching these Giant Apes.

A closer look at Dian Fossey Gravesite, part of the Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda

Dian Fossey established a Research Center in 1967 within the verdant Valley between Karisimbi and Bisoke Volcanoes thus the name “Karisoke Research Center” and it is here that she undertook her research and conservation works for almost two decades (18 years). However, she was found dead in her cabin on 26th December 1985 and while her death was believed to be murder, mysteries of her murder still remain unresolved to date.

She was laid to rest close to her Research Center, alongside her favorite gorillas whom she dedicated her life to protecting. Even after her death, the survival of the endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is still attributed to her works and when you hike to her gravesite, you will not only learn about her conservation journey but also pay tribute.

The Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda is also a great way to explore Volcanoes National Park because the trail goes through one of the most spectacular parts of the Protected Area with outstanding wildlife species including the mountain gorillas. You may encounter them on a lucky day (although you will not be allowed to spend more than 15 minutes and will not be allowed to take photos of them). Others include exceptional flora species, breathtaking Virunga volcano vistas.

How the Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda is done

The Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda, like most activities in Volcanoes National Park, begins in the morning with a briefing at Kinigi Park Headquarters at 7:00 a.m. You will be taken through the guidelines for undertaking the hike.

Later, hop into your safari vehicle for a 30-minute drive from the Park Headquarters to Mount Bisoke base where the actual hike begins just outside Volcanoes National Park (at exactly the car parking area). At this point, a walking stick will be provided (free of charge) and also at this point, you can hire a porter/s to help carry your backpack and even support you during the hike.

Expect to walk outside the Park for the first 10 or more minutes, during which breathtaking views of the Virunga Volcanoes are enjoyed. Later, a stone wall that creates a demarcation of the National Park is seen, and this mainly keeps the forest elephants and buffaloes from crossing to the neighboring community.

Soon you will be hiking Bisoke Volcano and walking through an area frequented by mountain gorillas but even when you see them, you won’t be allowed to take photos since you aren’t tracking them. Besides mountain gorillas, other wildlife species that are common at this point include the golden monkeys, forest buffaloes, duikers, and lots of bird species.

Having reached 2,967 meters above sea level, the Dian Fossey hike trail breaks off from the Bisoke volcano hiking trail and then proceeds towards Karisimbi Volcano while walking through an area filled with Hygenia Hypericum between 2,900 and 3,000 meters above sea level.

Here, magnificent views of the Virunga mountains from as far as DRC and Rwanda while sighting lots of bird species (including the Albertine Rift endemics) hence making it a perfect way to sight lots of bird species. When you get to the gravesite of Dian Fossey, you will also see those of her favorite gorillas (including Digit).

Duration and Difficulty of the Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda

The Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda lasts between one and three hours, depending on the participant’s level of fitness. However, a comfortable pair of hiking boots will make it less challenging to maneuver through this trail. Generally, this is considered a moderate hike and perfect for visitors with even a basic level of fitness.

What to pack for the hike

Regardless of when you plan on undertaking the Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda, there are a number of items you ought to pack and they include hiking boots, safari trousers and long-sleeved shirt/s, gardening gloves, sunglasses, a rain jacket, a backpack, a camera, and binoculars, and a first aid kit among others.

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