Dian Fossey (Jan. 16, 1932 – Dec. 26, 1985) was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years. In 1967, she arrived in Rwanda in order to carry out an extensive study of the gorillas in the mountain forests. Her 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist, combines her scientific study of the mountain gorilla at Karisoke Research Center with her own personal story. It was adapted into a 1988 film “Gorillas in the Mist”. Fossey was murdered in 1985; the case remains open.
Her anti-poaching campaigns are thought to be the reason that she was murdered in 1985. Her work and dedication to preserving the Mountain Gorillas and her legacy lives on in the village at the foot of the mountain where people prosper from the money charged for gorilla permits. Her movie made people aware of the Mountain Gorillas and they began to flock to Rwanda.
A day or 3 and 4 hour trek (commonly known as Diane Fossey trail) costs 75 USD/person.
The trek starts across fields which relatively gently steepen towards the Park's wonderful dry stone wall.
The trek takes you to the trail, Diane Fossey used with their porters on the way to the research camp. It goes through different vegetation - hagenia trees forest, hypericum trees, meadows with giant lobelia. All the trek is on stable trails, you don’t need to scramble through dense vegetation (like sometimes during the gorilla tracking), with some excellent views.
The research centre is on the historic place, where all the stories really happen. There remain some ruins (buildings were damaged during civil war) but you get a lot of really interesting information from the guides.
There is a burial ground of gorillas next to which is her tombstone which reads 'No-one loved gorillas more. Rest in Peace dear Friend Eternally Protected in this Sacred Ground for You are Home where you belong'.
You can do this activity a day before our gorilla tracking day - Great chances for you to take photos of the different vegetation of the national park forest, and there is plenty of time to enjoy the forest as ask your guide questions to get more information (about trees, plants, Diane Fossey and her life, gorillas and their behavior and conservation, about national park and villagers around).
If you do not just want to do Gorilla Trekking but also gather other experiences in the Volcanoes NP, a guided walk to the Karisoke Research Center (or better to its debris) is definitely worth it! Its a nice walk through the forest and impressive experience