Founded in 1967 by Dian Fossey, the Karisoke research camp was built in the forested area between mount karisimbi and Mount Bisoke to study the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The Name Karisoke comes from a combination of the two beautiful Volcanoes’ names (karisimbi and Bisoke) in Rwanda.
In the 1990s, a research center was established and named Karisoke Research center after Dian Fossey’s camp. The center is not in the park like Dian’s center but it has played a big role in scientific research towards the life and conservation of Mountain Gorillas. Karisoke Research center is now an internationally recognized conservation center where research about the endangered Gorillas takes place.
Since its inception in the 1990s, the Karisoke research center has been operating from a rented property located in Ruhengeri along the road to Lake Kivu/Gisenyi road. The very committed staff have done a wonderful job from this place and Adventure Consults’ clients who have visited the center can testify.
At the celebration of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund 50th anniversary in 2017, the board of directors came up with a brilliant idea of creating an own world class facility. A number of donors both large and small came on board and gave the best they could. The funding/donations tremendously helped the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to create a state-of-the-art research and learning facility, the first permanent home in Rwanda namesd Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The home was named after Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi. Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian, television host, actress, writer, and producer. She gave huge financial support towards the construction of the new home.
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund opened doors to the public in early 2022, and is now permanent home to the Karisoke research center.
As part of Adventure Consults’ Rwanda safaris, we make sure there’s time for our clients to visit the Karisoke research center for insight tours that focuses on conservation, Gorilla knowledge and also get an in-depth understanding of Dian Fossey’s great work.
A minimal donation/fee is charged which depends on the nature of activity to be carried out. Here are some of the activities.
- Self guided tours: You take a walk through the Conservation Gallery which has interactive games, fun quizzes and a 360-degree theatre. You are free to take a walk through the Ellen DeGeneres Campus grounds and explore the gorilla, biodiversity and wetlands trails.
- Behind the scenes tour: In addition to activities listed in self-guided tours, here you get an opportunity to interact with a senior staff member of the research center. You have a privilege to ask any questions. You will get to visit some of the labs to learn more about the research work and also see the work done by students.
- Silverback Sundowner: Enjoy the serenity of Ellen DeGeneres Campus after official working hours. This exclusive experience is offered from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm. You will enjoy drinks and canapés at the Virunga Lounge with a backdrop of all the 5 volcanoes. You also get to interact with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund senior staff members, ask any questions about conservation work, Gorillas and people souring the Gorilla parks.