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The Dian Fossey Hike

Dian Fossey’s work to study and protect the lives of the wild gorillas in Rwanda, her focus, courage and passion has touched the hearts of people around the world and has inspired many conservationists who have followed since and her legacy still lives on today.

Dian Fossey’s work to study and protect the lives of the wild gorillas in Rwanda, her focus, courage and passion has touched the hearts of people around the world and has inspired many conservationists who have followed since and her legacy still lives on today.

Are you interested in climbing to the ruins of Karisoke Research Centre, here is everything you need to know about the Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her last breath, she was a pioneering primatologists and she founded the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda in 1967 where she based during her studies and research on mountain gorillas for 18 years.

Unfortunately on the 26 th of December in 1985, she was brutally murdered in her secluded mountain home. Up to now, her murder is still a mystery.

Upon finding her will, Dian’s body was return to her home research centre where she was laid to rest alongside the gorillas which were her love ones and she worked tirelessly to protect them.

If you are planning a Rwanda safari and interested in doing The Dian Fossey Hike, the best time to enjoy this enriching experience is during the high season (June to September). It is advised to book your primate three months in advance.

However, Dian Fossey Hike is not as popular as gorilla trekking in Rwanda. So chances of getting the permit are high even if you don’t book in advance.

The Dian Fossey Hike Permit costs $ 75, this fee includes a professional guide.


  • Pack some light snacks and two bottle of water
  • Bring your own gaiters to avoid the red ants or hire a pair at the park headquarters
  • Wear shoes that have grip and you won’t mind getting muddy
  • Arrive at the park headquarters at 7:00 am for registration and a briefing
  • Do not forget to carry your passport and permit


  • During the Dian Fossey Hike, you will be escorted by armed Rwandan soldiers. Don’t be scared, Rwanda has a strong military presence which has made it one of the safest countries in Africa.
  • Your guide will give you loads of information about Dian Fossey, her research centre and the surrounding vegetation
  • If you are lucky, you might also see elephants, buck and a variety of birds
  • You will also visit the ruins of Dian Fossey’s House where she was murdered
  • You will see the gorilla graveyard where Dian Fossey is buried. Her tomb is next to her favorite gorilla Digit and 20 others.
  • After visiting all different ruins of the research center, you will stop for lunch before beading back down the mountain.


  • Head to the nearby restaurant to get your shoes and socks cleaned for an extra fee
  • Tip your guide basing on your satisfaction ( $ 10 is the recommended tip)
  • If you want to go back to Kigali that same day, arrange for your driver to drop you off at the bus station if you are travelling using public transportation.

Yes, however it is guaranteed. If you cannot afford the gorilla permit, the hike is a great option. Just be sure to keep a lookout in the trees and listen to the sounds of the forest for branches snapping.

Yes and no.
For an inexperienced hiker had to be taken back to base camp because she couldn’t handle the incline at the beginning of the hike.
The hike takes almost two hours one way with stops for water in between. The terrain itself is also very muddy, and you will need to take care where you step to avoid falling or losing a shoe. Luckily, the walking sticks will be given help with this a lot.
So many people find the hike difficult and some find it easy.

Generally, you would need to be reasonably fit as you may find inclines too tough or aren’t comfortable with challenging terrain.

It is a short drive of approximately 2 hours from Kigali City – the capital of Kenya to Volcanoes National Park in the town of Musaze.

When you book your tour with Hope Africa Tours, we provide private vehicles normally included in the quotation.

For visitors on a self-organized safari can catch a bus from Nyabugogo Taxi Park in Kigali to the town of Musaze, the trip takes about two hours. The buses are comfortable and have free Wi-Fi to help you be entertained while on board.

Once in Musanze, you can either in this town or head to Kinigi where the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters are based.

To get to Kinigi, there is no public transport available so you will need to take a taxi as there and a ride takes about 15-minutes.

The buses between Kigali and Musaze from about 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day, this makes it easy to finish up your hike and head back to Kigali City – Rwanda’s capital on the same day. If you can spend some time in Musaze, it is the town where Dian Fossey would visit for supplies and is now home to her research centre. Recently a small museum in honor of Dian Fossey has been open and is worth the visit if you want to learn more about her work with the gorillas as well as Rwanda’s latest conservation efforts.

There are several accommodation options in Kinigi and Musaze that will suit the budget of every traveler.

For nature lovers, staying in Kinigi is recommended as it boasts amazing views and sunsets. It is also peaceful and you will have a chance to interact with the locals in the nearby village.

If you are traveling on a budget, stay at Kinigi Guest House.

Other accommodation options to stay at include Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Kinigi Cottage, Sambora Kinigi, Virunga Inn Resort & Spa, Ingagi Park View Lodge among others.

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