Dian Fossey Grave/Hiking Diana Fossey’s Grave at Volcanoes National Park
Diana Fossey’s tombs and graves represent the legacy of an American primatologist who committed the rest of her life to serving the conservation of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and the Virunga region at large. The graves have stood out as among the most attractive features that complement your gorilla trip to Volcanoes National Park.
The Dain Fossey walking trail prevails within the valley between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke. The graves were made into a research center about gorilla conservation and the rest of the attractions of the park. The research center is called Karisoke, where Dian Fossey was based to do conservation and research in 1968.
The research center is located nearly an hour and a half from the park’s entrance. Reaching the park’s headquarters is a 30-minute drive on a path leading to the research facility. The trek to the graves starts at the research center and stretches to the immediate graveyard.
Diana Fossey’s Biography
Dain Fossey was born on January 16th, 1932, in San Francisco, California, to Kathryn and George E. Fossey III. Dain’s mother divorced her husband, then she got married to Richard Price, who raised her in isolation and brutality and never raised her as his own daughter. Fossey developed a great love for the animals during her study time. She attained a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy in 1955 from San Jose State College.
In 1963, Fossey took her maiden trip to Africa on an itinerary going through Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and the Congo. While in Kenya, she met paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, her husband, archaeologist Louis Leakey, and actor William Holden, who introduced her to John Alexander, a British hunter. Alexander became Fossey’s guide for the next seven weeks, with an itinerary that went through Kenya, Tanzania, and Mikeno in the Congo.
Dian Virunga She stayed with Baumgartel, an advocate for gorilla conservation, who recommended she meet with Joan and Alan Root, wildlife photographers who were making mountain gorilla photographic documentaries. While Dian was walking with them in the jungle, they came across a group of wild gorillas, which she photographed, and then she fell for them and had a feeling to return and study about the mountain gorillas.
Then, in 1966, Leakey invited and funded Fossey’s long-term study of the endangered mountain gorillas. She started her studies on the Congo’s side of the Virunga until the DR Congo’s civil wars forced her to flee to Rwanda. In 1967, Fossey established the Karisoke Research Foundation in the valley between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to study mountain gorillas.
In 1976, Dian Fossey alternated her studies and attained a PHD based on her studies at Cambridge University. While studying the gorillas, the apes would flee on seeing her, but watching them over time, she replicated their daily actions like green feeding, scrabbling, and mimicking their vocals until she drew the gorilla’s attention.
Under her research program, Fossey raised funds through the Digit Gorilla Fund that enabled her conservation programs, like sustaining the anti-poaching patrol. Dian was against the gorilla tourism program, yet the program was funded by international conservation organizations, and this developed after she realized the danger of human health infections in the gorillas.
In 1983, she launched her famous book “Gorillas in the Mist,” which went on to be a best-seller. From this book, in 1988, a film also called Gorillas in the Mist was produced. On December 27, 1985, Fossey was found in her cabin in the morning, having been struck twice on the head and face with a machete. Though there was evidence of forced entry, there were no signs of a robbery motive. She was laid to rest just beside the graves of her beloved gorilla, “Digit Gorilla.”
What to do at the Dian Fossey Tomb
A trek to Dian Fossey’s tomb was one of the must-do adventures when visiting Volcanoes National Park. Besides gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking, another thrill of the park is hiking to the Fossey Tomb. Tour operators list hiking to the Fossey Tomb as one of the most popular trekking activities on Volcanoes National Park’s itinerary.
Wildlife viewing: Fossey’s grave location positions trekkers to watch a variety of monkeys, bird species, forest elephants, and several plants, some of which are endemic.
Points of interest during a tour to the Dian Fossey grave site include the Dian Fossey tomb, Karisoke Research Camp, the cabin where Dian Fossey was murdered, golden monkeys, Mount Karisimbi, and several bird species.
Trekking with mountain gorillas that are found on Mount Karisimbi is the major attraction for almost all travelers to Volcanoes National Park.
Acquiring a permit to hike the tombs
Reaching and hiking to Dian Fossey’s grave requires a permit, which costs $75. The permit, unlike the limited one for gorilla trekking, can be purchased at any time of travel from the tourism office in Kigali. However, one can also decide to purchase their hiking permit at Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kiningi. The fee for the permit includes an experienced and professional guide.
The Best Time to Visit Dian Fossey’s Grave Site
Taking a hike to the famous Dian Fossey’s grave can be done all day. Just like the gorillas can be trekked throughout the year, it’s recommended to take the trek at any time of your choosing. However, because it’s a trek through the tropical rainforest, it’s very clear when trekking in the dry months of the year. These months manifest in December, January, and February and come again in June, July, and August. During this time, the ground is dry, the forests are less moist, and the expectation of rain during the trek is limited.