Dian Fossey’s Karisoke Research Centre
Dian Fossey set up a research centre in the Virungas in the early sixties and began the well-documented habituation of the gorillas there. She became well known internationally through the film “Gorillas in the Mist”. Although Fossey was killed in 1985, the Centre continued to operate in the forest with other researchers until 1992.
During the ensuing civil war in Rwanda it was destroyed and although rebuilt in 1993, it was destroyed again. Since then it has not been rebuilt. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International now runs its research on the gorillas in the forest from the Karisoke Centre in Ruhengeri town.
Visits to old Karisoke are available as one of the activities in the Virungas. Old Karisoke is located in a beautiful meadow between the Karisimbi and Visoke volcanoes with the Mikeno volcano in the distance. Remains of the old buildings can be seen as well as graves of some of the research gorillas that have died over the last 30 years, including the famous Digit which was killed by poachers, as well as that of Fossey herself.
The walk takes about 6-8 hours in all and is a fascinating way to explore the park and get a glimpse of the remains of this historic place. Prior booking is advisable and should be done when booking a safari.