VOLCANOES NP: optional additional activities
Options available include a second Gorilla Trek, or trek to a habituate group of Golden Monkeys ( cercopithecus mitis kandti), or visit the Karisoke Research centre built by Dian Fossey and the site of her grave, located in the Park between the Karisimbi
and Bisoke Volcanoes - three hours trekking accompanied by a Park Ranger, or to climb Bisoke volcano with its superb crater lake.(all at extra cost)
Tracking the Golden Monkey
An Elusive Treasure in the Virunga Mountains This little known monkey is one of the most endangered primates in Africa and it is now thought that the only viable population of these monkeys is in the Virunga Volcanoes. A smaller population may exist in the Nyungwe Forest in Southern Rwanda but this has yet to be verified. The golden monkey is a distinct species of guenon - Cercopithecus Kandti and is endemic to the Albertine Rift.
Or Dian Fossey's tomb: One popular hike while near the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the one to Dian Fossey’s Tomb and the adjacent gorilla cemetery in the former Karisoke Research Camp. The Karisoke scientific base was established by Dian Fossey in the saddle area between two volcanoes; Mt Visoke and Mt Karisimbi (from which the name Karisoke is derived). The camp site stands at an altitude of around 3000m (over 9000 ft) and was abandoned during the unrest of the 1990’s.
The trek involves a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters to the trailhead then a 10-minute stroll to the park boundary. From here, the ascent through the forest takes anything from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on your fitness and how often you stop to enjoy the scenery while the descent takes 2 hours. Fossey’s old living quarters – which she nicknamed the mausoleum – are now in ruins, and several other landmarks in the camp are signposted. The hike offers a good opportunity to see birds and other creatures typical of the Virungas en route.
At the site you will find the house from where Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered in 1985 but the more peaceful is the place where she was buried just next to her favourite gorilla, Digit and about 20 other mountain gorillas either killed by poachers or suffered death for other reasons.
The tomb’s headstone reads:
No one loved gorillas more
Rest in peace, dear friend
In this sacred ground
For you are home
Where you belong
In her journal, Dian Fossey’s final words were, “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.”
Today, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund monitors ten gorilla groups (out of 15 total) in Rwanda and have so many other projects to help conserve the gorillas and other animals in the region.
This hike is an incredible experience physically, emotionally and intellectually. It is so inspiring to learn about someone who was so dedicated and left a legacy that exists even today. If you find yourself in Rwanda and you’re up for a challenge, I highly recommend the hike.
Or Climbing Mt Bisoke: The mountain is located within Rwandan Volcanoes National Park and Congolese Virunga National Park. The steep slopes of the peak are densely covered with equatorial rainforest and alpine meadows. The summit does not gather snow, but is often shrouded in fog. Bisoke is one of the mountains considered a habitat for the Endangered mountain gorilla, and the Karisoke Research Center founded by Dian Fossey is located in the valley to the west.
Mt Visoke stands at 3700m, it has the typical conic shape of a “perfect” volcano and in its crater lies a deep crater lake.
Or Gorilla trekking: Another option is gorilla trekking. Gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans, through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virunga range, is a magical experience. Once you reach the gorillas, you can spend an hour with them and be back at base in time for a late lunch!
Diner and overnight near Volcanoes National Park