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Virunga Lodge commemorates Dian Fossey’s pioneering work with Map Room
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Dian Fossey in 1986 and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Karisoke Research Centre by Fossey in 1967, Virunga Lodge is delighted to announce the building of the Dian Fossey Map Room.
Facing the magical Virunga Volcanoes, the specially commissioned Dian Fossey Map Room, designed in conjunction with Studio FH, will be an intimate space to share the legacy of Dian Fossey. Guests will have a quiet space to get an introduction to gorilla conservation. The Map Room will also have an exclusive room for private celebrations, meetings and dinners for up to 12 people.
Praveen Moman, Founder of Volcanoes Safaris, commented on the Dian Fossey Map Room: “Virunga Lodge has established itself as the leading luxury lodge for gorilla tracking in Rwanda. It is fitting that we pay tribute to the work of Dian Fossey and the other primatologists who have contributed to their survival. As pioneers of developing and promoting sustainable gorilla tourism for almost twenty years in the region, Volcanoes Safaris would like to share the unique contribution of Fossey through the Dian Fossey Map Room.”
Tara Stoinski, Ph.D. President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International comments: “Dian Fossey was critical to ensuring the survival of mountain gorillas for generations to come. We are very grateful that Volcanoes Safaris is continuing to honour her memory through the building of the Dian Fossey Map Room at their beautiful Virunga Lodge.”
The map room is being built in honour of Dr. Dian Fossey, the pioneer primatologist who worked in the Virunga Volcanoes in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985. She was killed thirty years ago at the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda. Her work was instrumental in understanding the lives of gorillas, helping understand how to protect them and setting up sensitive tourism to help try and preserve them for the future. She said of the Karisoke Research Centre in her best-selling book Gorillas in the Mist: “Little did I know then, that by setting up two small tents in the wilderness of the Virungas, I had launched the beginnings of what was to become an internationally renowned research station eventually to be utilized by students and scientists from many countries.”
The Karisoke Research Centre will celebrate its 50th year in February 2017.
Fossey’s primary focus was the study of mountain gorillas. However, she soon realised that in order to survive, they would require protection from poachers, snares and human encroachment into the forest. After poachers killed one of her favourite gorillas Digit, Fossey set up the “Digit Fund” to support active conservation of the gorillas. Following the death of Dian Fossey in 1985, this was renamed to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which continues to operate out of Musanze, Rwanda and in neighbouring countries.
Construction of the Dian Fossey Map Room is scheduled to began in June 2016 and is expected to open late 2016. Built in partnership with Studio FH Architects (www.studiofh.ug) from Kampala, the Map Room will be made of locally sourced materials that reflect local design and construction techniques, to echo the design of the main lodge.
Perched high on a ridge, offering breath-taking views of the Virunga Volcanoes and twin lakes, Virunga Lodge is the ultimate luxury property for tracking the endangered mountain gorillas. The addition of two new deluxe bandas in 2014 brought the number of rooms to 10.
The 6-Day Mount Gahinga and Virunga Lodge Safari tour starts from $4,969 per person sharing, in low season and includes 2 nights at the Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge, Uganda and 3 nights at Virunga Lodge, Rwanda and 1 gorilla permit.
Easily accessible for guests flying into Kigali International airport (Rwanda), Virunga Lodge is just a three-hour drive. More information on accommodation, safari packages and pricing can be found at www.volcanoessafaris.com
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.