Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya is situated south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, North West of Nairobi city. The national park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs which were once upon a time a tributary of an ancient lake in the Rift Valley. It was named ‘Hell’s Gate’ in 1883 by two explorers Fisher and Thomson.
Hell’s gate national park is one of the smallest national parks in Kenya, spanning over a radius of 68 square kilometers. It was established as a national park in 1984 and is popular among tourists for its wide variety of wildlife and beautiful scenery.
The national park is home to more than 103 species of birds including the Verreaux’s eagles, augur buzzard and vultures among others. The park also hosts a wide variety of wildlife species such as lions, cheetah, leopards, Cape buffalos, African Bush Elephant, zebra and elands to mention but a few.
Hell’s gate also acts as a home base for three geothermal power stations which are situated in Olkaria. The national park is dominated by two extinct volcanoes which are Olkaria and Hobley’s.
One of the main tourist attractions in the national park is the Hell’s Gate Gorge which is lined with red cliffs that contain two volcanic plugs named Fisher’s Tower and Central Tower. Away from the Central Tower, you will find a smaller gorge which extends south, with a path that leads to hot springs that have really hot rocks and sulphuric water.
What makes Hell’s Gate really special is the fact that it is one of the only national parks in Kenya that offers visitors bicycling and motorcycling as an activity. In addition to this, the national park has low park fees compared to other national parks in Kenya.
Given that Hell’s Gate national park is within close proximity to Nairobi city, it makes the perfect safari destination for visitors on a short vacation in city. The park is situated approximately 90 kilometers from Nairobi which means that visitors can easily combine a tour of Nairobi city with a short visit to the national park.
Activities in Hell’s Gate National Park.
Game drives in Hell’s Gate national park are one of the common activities conducted in the national park. Visitors on a game drive in the national park have an opportunity to view a variety of wildlife including wildebeests, giraffes, Thomson’s gazelle, hyenas, hyraxes and baboons among others. The park also harbours quite a large population of Klipspringer antelopes and Chanler’s mountain reedbucks.
Boat cruise safaris in Hell’s Gate are majorly conducted in Lake Naivasha. The lake has a large population of hippos which can be seen napping along the lake’s banks during the day. The lake also hosts a number of bird species including Cormorants, Kingfishers, African Fish Eagle, Goliath Heron, Great White Egret and the Saddle-billed stork among others.
Bicycling or motorcycling at Hell’s Gate will give you an opportunity to have close encounters with wildlife in the national park. Visitors on cycling tours in the park can ride past gazelles, zebras, giraffes and elephants roaming freely in the park.
Hiking tours in Hell’s Gate are mainly conducted along river gorges, rock towers and to some of the hot springs in the park. Visitors on hiking tours in the national park are accompanied by an experienced park ranger or guide. Hiking expeditions in the national park are also conducted along Crescent Island, Crater Lake, and Mount Longonot.
If you are looking to experience some of the different cultures in Kenya then embarking on a community cultural tour will be the best option for you. Cultural encounters at Hell’s Gate national park will give you an opportunity to visit some of the Maasai communities that live near the park. You will have a chance to interact with the friendly local Maasai people and learn more about their unique culture. You can also visit some of the local craft stalls and buy some of the beautiful crafts that have been hand-made by the local Maasai women.
Accommodation in Hell’s Gate National Park.
Accommodation in Hell’s Gate include; Mvuke Spa, Kiboko Luxury Camp, Hippos Safari Resort, and Naivasha Treehouse. The park also has three basic campsites which are safe and available for visitors looking to do camping in the park.
How to Get to Hell’s Gate
Hell’s Gate national park is located 90 kilometers from Nairobi and can easily be accessed by road. The park is situated 14 kilometres after the turnoff from the old Nairobi-Naivasha highway.