Dian Fossey Hike in Rwanda. Your journey into mountain gorilla conservation

The Dian Fossey hike is one of the tourist activities in Rwanda whose popularity is growing. Happening in the same Volcanoes National park where people can see mountain gorillas, it is perfect for people who want to explore this great jungle.

The Dian Fossey hike is great for learning about the conservation of gorillas, with her pioneering work that starts in 1967. By the end of the hike, you have learned about the local ecosystem and the passion that flows behind the work of conservationists and researchers.

In this article, we give you a little highlight of what you should expect, and why you should consider taking the interesting hike on your visit to Rwanda.

About Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey was a primatologist and she founded the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda in 1967. She took most of her time studying the endangered mountain gorillas for 18 years. 

She began her career in occupational therapy and she was one of the few members who belonged to a group known as Trimates for prominent female scientists.

On the 26th of December in 1985, she was brutally murdered at her home and her body was returned to her research centre. She was laid to rest alongside the gorillas where she had a lot of passion.

Dian Fossey Gravesite

Hiking to the Dian Fossey Grave Site

One needs a permit to do a hike which costs 70 USD per person. Permits are only issued at tourism offices in Kigali or from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi.

However, if it is a high tourism season (between the months of June and September) it is advised to book your permit  3 months in advance even though the Dian Fossey hike is not as popular as gorilla trekking.

Dian Fossey Hike is one of the cheapest hikes you can do in the Volcanoes National Park and the fee includes a professional guide. 

Booking dates are not changed in case you fail to make it on the date you booked, you will have to pay full price again. If you are staying in hotels around Musanze or Kinigi, hotels will organise for you transport that costs around USD 50 to and from.

young gorilla in Rwanda

Hiring a car in Kigali is one of the best ways to access the world-famous Volcanoes National Park and you have all the freedom and comfort to explore more attractions in Rwanda. The buses between Kigali to Musanze run from about 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day and this makes it easy for one to finish his hike and head back to Kigali.

Dian Fossey was more familiar with Musanze town which is now home to her research centre and recently a small museum was opened to learn more about her work with the gorillas and other Rwanda’s latest conservation efforts.

If you are not familiar with the route, you might find it best to hire a professional tour guide, or you can choose the self-drive Rwanda option to explore this country on your own terms.

What to expect

  • The hike takes almost two hours one way with stops for water
  • A must-see is Dian Fossey’s tomb
  • The terrain itself is muddy thus one has to be  mindful of where he steps
  • The walking sticks are provided at the briefing centre
  • A professional guide is provided
  • A person who is not physically fit or has health issues is advised to skip this activity
  • You need your passport and the permit
  • Pack some light snacks and water
  • Wear long pants and shoes that have good traction.
  • Be at the headquarters for debriefing and registration as early as 7:00 am


Here is what you can expect in terms of costs and rates as you plan to embark on the Dian Fossey hike.

  • A permit costs USD 70 per person
  • Car hire from Uganda ranges from USD 150 to 200 per day
  • A taxi trip  from Kigali one way costs RWF 1500
  • Accommodation ranges between USD 140 and 500 full board for high end people around Kigali, Musanze and Kinigi

Final Thoughts

The Dian Fossey hike is one of the best activities that avid hikers can enjoy in Rwanda, besides the mountain gorilla trekking.

The hike happens in Volcanoes National park which is one of the 4 national parks where mountain gorillas live and freely roam in the wild jungle. On the hike you get to experience the beauty of the park as well as learn all about the ecosystem, and of course, about the work and impact of Dian Fossey.

Dian Fossey's work for gorillas is as impactful as fellow Trimate Jane Goodall's work with Chimpanzees. If you are interested in conservation, walking in the footsteps of these icons is a pleasure hard to explain.

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