To commemorate the work and the 30th anniversary of the death of legendary conservationist Dian Fossey in 1985, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Karisoke Research Centre by Fossey in 1967, Virunga Lodge in Rwanda has opened the Dian Fossey Map Room. Facing the magical Virunga Volcanoes, the specially commissioned Map Room, designed in conjunction with Studio FH, will be an intimate space to share the legacy of Dian Fossey.
Fossey was a 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.”
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 her death in 1985, this was renamed as The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which continues to operate out of Musanze, Rwanda.
Construction of the Dian Fossey Map Room began in June 2016 and it was opened in March 2017. All the furniture, basket lights and soft furnishings were made on site with the help of the local villages’ women’s group. The colours were chosen to reflect the gardens surrounding the Map Room and local pottery workshops made wall up-lighters in the traditional Rwandan colours of mottled green to complement the locally-sourced building materials. The room has a feeling of bringing the outside gardens inside to create a serene and relaxed environment.
Praveen Moman, Founder of Volcanoes Safaris, commented: “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.” Tara Stoinski, Ph.D. President and CEO of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, added: “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.”
Perched high on a ridge, offering breath-taking views of the Virunga volcanoes and twin lakes, Virunga Lodge is the ultimate property for tracking the endangered mountain gorillas. The organic, “bush-chic” design reflects the local building style and has 10 luxury bandas, each with their own terrace overlooking the lush volcanoes. A 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 in Rwanda, Virunga Lodge is just a three-hour drive or a short helicopter flight. More information on accommodation, safari packages and pricing can be found at www.volcanoessafaris.com.