Dian Fossey Hike | Volcanoes National Park

Dian Fossey Hike is one of the major activities carried out by several travelers on a Rwanda tour in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Dian Fossey was an American primatologist born on 16th January 1932. She, later on, came into Africa and set up her karisoke research center in 1967 with the aim of conducting Conservation work in Rwanda to save the endangered mountain gorillas that were at a point of extinction in Rwanda. Dian Fossey tried by all means to befriend the mountain gorillas and discouraged hunting and poaching at all costs by encouraging the local communities to conserve the habitats of endangered mountain gorillas and even arresting the poachers that were caught in the act. Unfortunately, Dian was later murdered in 1985 and her body buried at her research center known as karisoke research center.

A hike to Dian Fossey grave is a very rewarding adventure as it enables travelers to encounter some primates along the way including the mountain gorillas, and other mammals that call mount Bisoke their home.

Hiking to Dian Fossey grave starts early in the morning at around 7:00 am from the park headquarters at Kinigi with a briefing. After the briefing, travelers are driven for about 30 minutes to the starting point of the hike and of the vehicle to start the trek that lasts about two hours. At the starting point, hikers encounter with the armed rangers and can even hire a porter from there to assist the hikers in carrying the backpack before commencing the hike which takes the Bisoke mountain trail.

After taking a hike on mount Bisoke up to an elevation of 2900m, hikers divert to the trail that leads to Dian Fossey graveyard where she was buried amidst his friend “the mountain gorillas” that lost their lives to poachers and hunters in fact the body of Dian Fossey was buried in a graveyard next to her best friend Digit the mighty silverback. Once the hike is done, travelers return to the lodge to proceed with other park activities according to your Itinerary

Other activities in Volcanoes National park:

Apart from hiking to Dian Fossey grave yard, travelers on a safari to Rwanda have a whole lot of other activities to engage in during the safari to Rwanda’s volcanoes national park which include; 

  • Mountain Gorilla trekking: mountain gorilla trekking is yet one of the major activity done in Volcanoes national park since  Rwanda is also considered to be one of the best destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa with its permit at $1500. Trekking the same gorillas in Uganda goes for $600 and in DRC at $400 per person
  • Golden monkey trekking: Volcanoes national park is also known for golden monkey trekking which goes for $100 equivalent to trekking the same monkeys in Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla national park
  • Community encounter: during the visit to Volcanoes national park, travelers can add community encounters on their bucket where they encounter the Iby’Iwacu community people for fascinating entertainment of music and drama.
  • Exploration of the crater lakes: Several travelers on a tour to Rwanda, especially to volcanoes national park, have a chance of visiting the twin lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo.
  • Volcano hiking: volcano hiking still remains amongst the fascinating activities done in Volcanoes national park. These volcanoes are situated in Virunga massif which consists of eight volcanic mountains are available for hiking at any given period of time. Travelers on a visit to Dian Fossey grave can easily combine a hike to Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke which are close to the Karisimbi research center.

Requirements for hiking to Dian Fossey Grave 

Hiking to Dian Fossey Grave is such a breath taking expedition filled with emotions upon listening to all that dian passed through till she was murdered. Below are some of the requirements for the Dian Fossey Hike;

  • Fitness: The hike requires a certain level of fitness since it is situated on the mountain thus summiting the grave involves trailing via some thick vegetation cover, hiking up the mountain and involves some muddy trails to summit the graveyard of the late Dian Fossey. However, this should not scare away the travelers since the hike involves several stopovers and sightings thus travelers always have ample time to capture different memories along the hike apart from mountain gorillas encountered along the way since they are set apart for travelers who pay the gorilla trekking fee of $1500 so travelers on a hike to Dian Fossey will only watch them at a distance and move on
  • A hiking permit: Like any other hiking safari, hiking to Dian Fossey Hike to the Grave requires a permit which goes for $75 per person. This permit includes guide and ranger fees. The permit can be booked online and then picked upon arrival on the hiking day.
  • Necessary travel documents: crossing borders from one nation to another requires fully documented travel papers including the tourist visa and a recent passport which are always the main documents to present at the park headquarters before accessing any national park in Rwanda. 
  • Attire: Good hiking attiring including light  shoes for movements, light but long sleeved clothes, a cap,  sunglasses, garden gloves, stockings among others
  • Hiking stick: A hiking stick is usually provided at the office before starting the hike
  • Enough drinking water and packed snack: these are also used to keep travelers dehydrated and boosts their morale during the hike 
  • Transportation from the park to the starting point: Travelers on a hiking safari to Dian Fossey are advised to hire a vehicle from the park headquarters to drive them up to the trailhead. However, for travelers who use a tour operator such as Achieve Global Safaris are on a safer side as our safari vehicle is always available to transfer the travelers to the starting point and pick them up again after the Hike. The tour operator also helps travelers in organizing the entire trip, book the permits, accommodation facilities, food, and drinking water.

What to see during the Hike to Dian Fossey 

There are a lot of things to see during the hike to Dian Fossey. The Dian Fossey hike offers a clear view of mount Karisimbi which is strategically positioned in such a way that overlooks karisoke research center on mount Bisoke within Virunga volcanic massif.  This is the main reason as to why several travelers on a hike to Mount Bisoke always add a hike to dian Fossey’s tombs to their tour bucket.

Dian Fossey Hike
Dian Fossey Hike

Since the hiking trail to Dian Fossey grave passes via the forest and mountain, expect to see several species of wildlife in the jungle such as different primate species which include Golden Monkeys, mountain Gorillas, mammal species such as forest elephants, buffaloes, forest hogs, different bird species birds including the those endemic to Albertine rift, water birds, forest birds and many more. 


Primate Lovers always add a hike to Dian Fossey’s tomb to their itinerary with the interest of learning more about the lifestyle of Dian Fossey, visiting her tombs and other graves of the mountain gorillas that were buried in the same location where the karisoke research center was situated.