Hike Dian Fossey Tombs

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The hike to Dian Fossey Tomb is one of the activities enjoyed by visitors of Volcanoes National Park because it is from here that the conservation history of Rwanda gorillas can be traced in addition to offering a chance of seeing the mountain gorillas by accident. Aside the 50% chance of seeing the mountain gorillas, there is so much to discover during this hike because it’s packed with history relating to the conservation of these Great Apes.

In just 3-4 hours, you will have an insight into the relentless journey and work of Dian Fossey towards the protection of the endangered Giant Apes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

About Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey, together with Jane Goodall was one of the pioneers of mountain gorilla research. She was born on the 26th December 1985 in San Francisco, California and was famous for conducting elaborate studies of mountain gorillas between 1966 and 1985. She was brutally murdered on the 26th of December 1985 but 37 years down the road, her murder still remains a mystery.

Her daily studies and documenting of these Giant Apes’ lives in the dense forests of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda changes many people’s perception of them. Her 18 years of unwavering support towards mountain gorilla conservation initiatives, opposing poaching and exploitation of natural environments earned her a place in the hearts of conservationists but also enemies. It is on this account that she was found dead in her cabin but it was only her research assistant who was convicted in absentia.

How the Hike to Dian Fossey Tombs is conducted

The Hike to Dian Fossey Tombs normally begins early morning with reporting to Kinigi Park Headquarters by 7:00am. Attend the mandatory briefing provided by Park Rangers, then by 8:00am be transferred to the Mount Bisoke base where the trailhead/or starting point is found. Don’t hesitate to pick a walking stick from the starting point because you will need it and also porters are handy for offering support during these physically demanding hikes.

The first 10 minutes or more of the hike to Dian Fossey Tomb involves walking outside Volcanoes National Park while relishing views of the Virunga Mountains. It is not long before the stone wall demarcating the Park is sighted. Not only does this wall act as a boundary between the Park and surrounding community but is also fundamental in keeping forest buffaloes and elephants from crossing and into the community.

From this point, you will begin hiking Mount Bisoke and maneuvering through an area frequented by mountain gorillas and lucky visitors will see some of them, although photography isn’t allowed. Besides the Giant Apes, there are also chances of spotting forest buffaloes, golden monkeys, elephants and duikers.

Leave the Mount Bisoke trail at an elevation of 2967 meters above sea level and move towards Mount Karisimbi while encountering beautiful high-altitude vegetation that include Hygenia Hypericum forest between 2900 and 3000 meters above sea level. Take some time to relish the jaw-dropping mountain sceneries of Virunga Mountains stretching from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along the way come across and watch lots of beautiful birds hence making it an ideal chance for the birders who wish to see Albertine Rift endemics. Close to the Karisoke Research Camp is where you will see Dian Fossey’s Tomb plus the ones for gorillas that were considered her favorites. The entire hike to Dian Fossey Tomb lasts 3-4 hours and considered moderately-difficult hence physical fitness is required by participants.

Dian Fossey Tomb hike permits

Permits for the Dian Fossey Tomb hikes can be secured from the Tourism Offices in the Capital for only $75 all year round. Alternatively, you can purchase permits from Kinigi Headquarters, Volcanoes National Park in the Northern Province of Rwanda.

When to go for the Hike to Dian Fossey Tomb

For the most favorable and unforgettable hiking to Dian Fossey Tomb, plan your visit during the dry season-from June to September then from December to February when the trail is mud-free, although the activity is available all-year round.

What to pack for the hike to Dian Fossey Tombs

For this rewarding hike, pack some energy-giving snacks, hiking boots with gaiters and enough grip, wide-brimmed hat, drinking water to stay hydrated throughout the hike to Dian Fossey Tombs, long sleeved shirts and safari pants, sunglasses, passport and the hiking permit, rain jacket, camera, insect repellant, toiletries, binoculars and so much more.

Where to stay before/after the hike to Dian Fossey Tomb

Volcanoes National Park and nearby Musanze Town offers a wide range of accommodation options for the needs and aspirations of every traveller. It is however recommended to stay within the Park and options include One & Only Gorilla’s Nest, Kinigi Guesthouse, Muhabura Hotel, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge and many others.

How to reach Volcanoes National Park for the hike to Dian Fossey Tomb

Reaching the spectacular Volcanoes National Park from Kigali City is by private or public transport means. For the latter, travellers can catch a bus from Nyabugogo Bus Station (within Kigali City) to Musanze City and this road trip takes about 3 hours for about $2-5 one way. Continue to Kinigi Park Headquarters or your place of Lodging by taxi/cab or motorcycle taxi.

The easiest and most stress-free way to get to Volcanoes National Park is by renting a car from Kigali City.

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