Karisoke Research Center - Dian Fossey Camp

Karisoke Research Center - Dian Fossey Camp

Karisoke Research Center - Dian Fossey Camp
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles88 reviews
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47
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8
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LAtravelover1
Los Angeles, CA269 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
If you go on this hike only go during the dry season when it hasn't rained for several weeks. Otherwise it will be very very muddy making it much more difficult. You will be going up to 3000 meters so be prepared. Getting to the beginning of the hike is a 30 minute drive on dirt roads - african massage as they call it. Awe-inspiring when you get to the top and see the gravesites but be prepared with plenty of water. We did get to see gorialls on the way down which was an added bonus
Written January 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Holly K
Salisbury, Vermont , U.S.A.11 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2016 • Family
A vigorous trek with excellent guide who provided valuable history of the life, death, and accomplishments of Dian Fossey. The trek involved several hours of a mix of uphill trekking, some level ground trekking, muddy areas, heavy vegetation at times - including the stinging nettles. To get to the trail head, we enjoyed an interesting walk through a small village with smiling, happy children greeting us along the way.

Helpful tips:

Wear long pants, long sleeves, garden gloves or trekking gloves to protect your hands from the stinging nettles.

Hire a porter to carry your pack since you'll likely have a lunch, water, camera, etc. Porters are also extremely helpful in "pulling" you up steep inclines and helping back down those inclines.

Overall, a moderate hike but the initial change in altitude can cause shortness of breath.

Bring enough cash to tip the guide comparable to $15 - $20 US.
Porter cost $10 plus tip of $5 - $10.

Tips for guards who trek ahead to be sure there are no dangerous situations with wildlife: elephants, buffalo, gorillas. $5 or so for each guards seems appropriate and there are 2 - 3 guards.

We were fortunate to be the only two guests on the hike and with one porter. The hotel packed our lunches and it was much more than what we could eat so we gave uneaten food to our porter (who was not trekking with any food) and he seemed very appreciative and ate everything that we gave him. The porters are not hired by the Park and my understanding is that this is an important way for them to make a living.

Written November 19, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pia C
New Jersey29 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2013 • Friends
We were scheduled to hike up to Crater Lake at the top of the volcano. This is no easy hike. It is a serious vertical climb that was extremely challenging for some. Unfortunately, my husband could not make it to the top. He was about to turn back to wait for the group in the car park when 2 lovely Australian women suggested we join their group who was going to see Dian Fossey's Camp. After speaking with the guides we abandoned the hike to the crater and went on the Research Center. The hike was much easier (but at nearly 3,000 meters, it's not a walk in the park). Walking through the dense vegetation was eerily beautiful. Once the sun came out we could see why Dian spent 17 years on the mountain. It was absolutely gorgeous. We visited her grave and that of her beloved gorillas. We stopped for lunch in a small rondavel that had information about Dian's life and tragic death. Her legacy lives on in the village at the foot of the mountain where people prosper from the money charged for gorilla permits. Our guides are university educated and the men who were once poachers now make their living as porters for the tourists. There is a new school and health center built with these same funds, so everyone benefits from gorilla conservation. It was an extraordinary trip!
Written August 20, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kacucha
Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Friends
Before our trip to Rwanda I red the book Gorillas in the mist a saw also the movie. I decided to pay 75 USD for the one day trek named Diane Fossey trail. It was really worth it and I can recommend this activity to other visitors.

The activity take you to the trail, Diane Fossey used with their porters on the way to the research camp. You will go through different vegetation - hagenia trees forest, hypericum trees, meadows with giant lobelia. All the trek is on stable trails, you dont 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 will get a lot of really interesting informations from your guide.
We did this activity one day before our gorilla tracking day and this was excellent chosen. We could try our photo cameras in the conditions of different vegetation of the national park forest, we had enough time to enjoy the forest (forest buffalo foot prints, bushbuck near the research camp site, all views) and we had enough time to ask our guide a lot of questions and get a lot of information (about trees, plants, Diane Fossey and her life, gorillas and their behavior and conservation, about national park and villagers around). During the gorilla tracking day we were so excited that for this would be no time and no idea.

The trek itself is hard at the beginning, where the trail is more steep and we were not used to the altitude. But we did it in small group of 3 and we could take our speed and enough time for resting any time. After first 30 minutes the terrain got more flat and the walk was about admiring the nature and views more than about sweating and deep breathing :-)
Written August 24, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sc3traveller
Canada/UK136 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2016 • Couples
We are fairly experienced walkers have hiked Kilimanjiro, Mount Everest Base Camp and lots of trails in the Alps/North America. However I would rank this hike in my Top 5 most challenging.

It's not the altitude that is challenging (it's only approx 3100m). The air is thinner here, but not enough to cause problems. The route is uphill, but it's not too steep that scrambling is required. The biggest challenge is the terrain. The dirt path is mostly mud, which, depending on the amount of foliage on the section of the trail you're on, will be either thick chunky mud or soupy mud, or deep water with a bit of mud thrown in, lol! And in most of these circumstances, the mud will be almost up to your knees (I'm 5' 6).

It took us just over 3 hours to make the ascent and it was tough going. Every time you take a step it takes lots of energy to lift your leg since the suction created by the mud pulls your foot back into the mud. It was also slow going in other sections where the path was completely immersed in water. Here we had to poke around in the water with our hiking poles to find the wooden slats of the trail and step on those. If we missed the wooden slats we would have stepped deeper into the water. Also, funny enough, part of the time you are just standing around with your guide discussing/deciding which is the easiest/less mucky route to travel around the especially bad sections.

According to our guide, she said about 3/4 of people don't make it to the end of the trail and opt to turn around and go back home at roughly the half way mark.

That being said, when you finally do make it to the site of the camp it feels like a real achievement. The location is peaceful with lots of big leafy trees. Apart from the gravesite there are a few signs showing where some of the houses/sleeping quarters for the staff used to be. Be sure to ask your guide about the stories behind the gorillas who are buried there as well as how/why the Research Centre was destroyed.

There was a light, misty rain on the day we did our hike - even though it was supposed to be the dry season. 3 hours up and 2.5 hours down.

If you've come to the park to see the gorillas I'd recommend doing the gorilla hike first so that you don't risk tiring yourself out or getting an injury on this hike and thus jepordising your gorilla hike.

I've attached a photo to give you an idea of the mud.
Written July 9, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nshimiyimanaboubakar
Musanze District, Rwanda12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2017
For those interested visiting Dian Fossey’s original scientific base Karisoke, a trek is available from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. 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. All that remains today is the graveyard where several of Dian Fossey’s favourite gorillas were buried. Dian Fossey is also buried near the graves of her beloved gorillas.

The trek to the Karisoke research camp takes around 3 - 4 hours and takes you through some of the most beautiful stretches of Hagenia - Hypericum forest in the Volcanoes National Park.

The Park fee for this Karisoke Trek is currently USD$ 75 per person, which includes the fee for the guide. The trek starts at 07:00am from the Park Headquarters in Kinigi, from where visitors will have to drive / be driven to the start point for the trek. Permits can be purchased on the day of the trek at the Park headquarters and porters can be hired from here.

Locations: Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda
Written April 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

shakal
Baltimore54 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Friends
Definitely check out the conditions before hiking. I saw that two weeks before my hike another review said that it a was very muddy difficult hike. I almost didn't go. But, when I went, the path was mostly dry. It was only muddy in some flat - shady areas. I am 61 and although I do exercise, I'd consider myself only in average shape. It really wasn't all that difficult, but I had to stop several times to catch my breath at the earlier steeper part. So it's nice if you are not part of a bigger group. I want to foot stomp the porter program. You can hire a porter at the beginning of the hike. They will carry your back pack. They will pull you up over the steeper areas and help point the best places to place your feet going down as they provide a steady hand. They work for a tip - $10 or more if you feel like giving. They really made the hike so much easier. This helps them earn a living so they don't turn to things like poaching. As others have noted, there isn't a lot to see in terms of physical structures, but interesting to see where Dian did her research. Of course for anyone interested in Dian and are familiar with the gorillas that she made famous, visiting the graveyard is a must.
Written August 16, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rosie C
Auckland219 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2015 • Solo
I was in two minds about doing this hike in early June because so many people told me it was really muddy in /after the rainy season. I am so glad I did it. I was the only tourist doing the hike on 6 June and the guide asked me a lot of questions about my fitness due to the mud, steepness and altitude - and no doubt because of my 62 years of age!

It was so worth it. Give up any idea of keeping your boots clean - I was walking through ankle deep mud in most places, sometimes almost knee deep. I carried my own daypack but unless you are really young, fit and agile, I recommend you use a porter so he can give you a helping hand over the areas where you need to take a big step up or down, avoid the worst of the really sticky mud. I used hiking shoes and gaiters - the gaiters kept my trousers reasonably clean. Beware of the the huge stinging nettles in some places.

Be aware that you will probably have an armed guard at the front and also the rear, so the tip money can mount up.

If you have read Dian Fossey's book or seen the Gorillas in the Mist film, or read anything about her, it is really interesting to see where she lived. No, there are hardly any remnants left of the cabins apart from stone pillars on which the huts were built, a stove and the framework of the workers hut. But it is a lovely setting, by a river with big trees dripping with moss and lichen.

For reference it took me 2.5 hours to climb up, 1 hour at the site and just over 1.5 hours coming down, in the dry season you could do it faster. The altitude didn't bother me much and I didn't need to take many stops.
Written June 7, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DerbyJay
Derby17 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2014 • Family
The trek starts across fields which relatively gently steepen towards the Park's wonderful dry stone wall. However, it was hot and the altitude made me puff quite a bit so a lot of stops. Once got through the wall and up to join the descending path it was easier going for me. The Center is patches of ground where the research huts stood and where Dian Fossey had her home.
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'. I found this profoundly moving and was glad I had made the climb.
Written January 26, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patricia T
Cairo, Egypt47 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2016 • Solo
Fitness is relative to the individual person, however this would be considered challenging, even for a fit person. Time for the hike varies, depending on your level of fitness, as seen by the difference in the reviews below. Anything from 90 mins each way to 3 hours each way! A lot depends on the weather, after rain some of the track becomes very slippery, and stinging nettles and thistles need to be hacked with a machete. Yes, this is good preparation for gorilla tracking, so go prepared with the right gear. Take enough water and an energy snack. Very interesting to see where Diane Fossey carried out her research, and gives an understanding of her life with the gorillas. Really worth doing. As always in all the National Parks in Rwanda, guides and porters extremely well trained, and always ready to help out if needed.
Written February 27, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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