Hell’s gate national park
Hell’s gate national park is a relatively small national park in Kenya found in the rift valley province with Nakuru as the nearest city, Hell Gate national park covers an area of 68.25 square kilometers and situated within Nakuru County near Lake Naivasha. The park is at distance of about 90 kilometers from Nairobi, Hell’s gate national park was named after a narrow break in the cliffs and got its name Hell’s gate from explorers Fisher and Thomson in 1883.
Hell’s gate national park was established in 1984 and put under the governance of Kenya wildlife services.
Attractions in Hell’s gate national park
Hell’s gate park is made up of many impressive attractions a reason to why it is ranked among the best protected areas and tourist destinations in Kenya.
- volcanic plugs (towers)
Hell’s gate park is made up of volcanic plugs of hard igneous rock that is Fischer’s tower and central tower, Fischer’s tower is situated on the main entrance of the park and the central tower on the southern end of the main gorge. Fischer’s tower shares attachments to the Masai people and their culture, according to Masai tales the tower is believed to have been formed as a result of Masai girl turning into a rock. Masai people state that the girl turned her way back on her father as she was heading to her future husband which is against the traditions, thus turning into a rock presently known as Fisher’s tower.
- Hell’s gate gorge
Hell’s gate gorge is a wide deep valley running through the heart of the park, the gorge is hemmed in by sheer, rusty-hued rock walls. The gorge consist of a Fischer’s tower which is climbed by the tourists with guidance from your guide, Fischer’s tower is a 25 meters high volcanic column named after a German explorer Gustav Fisher. Gustav fisher on his way from Mombasa to Lake Victoria on his exploring expedition reached the gorge in 1882, unfortunately he was stopped by the hostile and territorial Masai people who killed most of the members of his crew.
- Obsidian cave
Obsidian cave in Hell’s gate park is an impressive feature situated close to Elsa gate at the end of the buffalo circuit, the cave is found on Obsidian rock and it is reached while on a 2 kilometers track of buffalo circuit. In the cave you will witness glassy black rock characterized of rift valley lave flows.
- Ol Karia geothermal power station
Ol Karia geothermal power station is the first of its kind in Africa, the power station was established in 1981 generating geothermal power underneath Hell’s gate from hot springs and geysers.
- Lower gorge (Ol Njorowa)
The lower gorge is a very sought for feature by tourists visiting the park, the gorge rises from the southern end of the main gorge with a large central tower (which is unusual volcanic plug). The gorge is characterized with water eroded walls, the gorge is famous for movie production for example tomb raider movie.
Hell’s gate park hosts a variety of wildlife residing in the numerous sections of the park, animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetahs, African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, giraffe, Kirk’s dik-dik and steenbok, spotted hyena, klipspringer, antelopes, olive baboon, impala, wild dog, stripped hyena, black-backed jackal, servals, chanler’s mountain reedbuck and many more.
Hell’s gate park is also a habitant to many bird species totaling to over 100 recorded species, Hell’s gate national park was once a recognized breeding spot for bearded vultures and birds in the park include raptors such as Egyptian and Rüppell’s vultures. other birds in the park include African kestrel, Arrow-marked babbler, Chinspot batis, Egyptian vulture, Golden-winged sunbird, Eastern imperial eagle, Jackson’s widowbird, Bearded vulture, Mottled swift, Nyanza swift, Red-winged starling, Schawlow’s wheatear, Verreaux’s eagle, White-rumped swift, Yellow bishop, Yellow-rumped seedeater and many more.
Tourist activities in Hell’s gate national park
Hell’s gate park never disappoints when it comes to safari experience, the park offers many breathtaking, memorable and entertaining safari experiences to keep you occupied throughout your safari.
Hell’s gate park is a great at game drives regardless of its small size, the park is a home to many animals which graze the valley plains of the park which are covered by short savannah grasslands. While on game drive safari you get to see many animals such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, giraffe, Kirk’s dik-dik and steenbok, spotted hyena, klipspringer, antelopes, olive baboon, impala, wild dog, stripped hyena, black-backed jackal, servals, chanler’s mountain reedbuck and many more which is makes the safari a thrill. In Hell’s gate park you can do game. drives on bikes.
Cycling is one form of game drive offered in Hell’s gate park, cycling for game driving makes the park one and the only national park offering this safari in the whole of Kenya. Cycling experience begins from the park‘s gate and cycle through the valleys of the park while spot a number of animals, this activity offers you a golden chance to get closer to the animals in their natural habitat. In Hell’s gate national park bikes for the safari are hired at the gate for a reasonable fee, you can also chose to carry yours.
Hell’s gate national park is made up of many volcanic features including cliff and towers which facilitate rock climbing experience, this experience has made the park popular to rock climbers from all over the world. These features in the park where formed as a result of volcanic activity from the cooling of melted rock liquid. Rock climbing experience is done with a guidance of a guide.
Hell’s gate national park is an important birding destination in Kenya, those not ranked among the most an excellent sites the park hosts over 100 bird species. Bird watching in Hell’s gate park unveils to you many birds of different sizes, colors and forms. birds sighted in the park include Egyptian vulture, Golden-winged sunbird, Eastern imperial eagle, Jackson’s widowbird, Bearded vulture, Mottled swift, Nyanza swift, Red-winged starling, Schawlow’s wheatear, Verreaux’s eagle, White-rumped swift, Yellow bishop, Yellow-rumped seedeater and many more. Birds in the park are easily spotted on the cliffs and they are best spotted in the rainy season with is the nesting period.
Hell’s gate national park is dotted with valleys, hills and volcanic features which create a scenic view in the park, nature walks in the park is a walk by foot as you visiting numerous corners of the park as per your guide. On the walk you can visit areas like Obsidian cave, Fischer’s tower, central tower and many more which are amazing to look at. And also you get to spot many animals such ass giraffes, kobs, stripped hyenas, wild dogs and many more.
Best time to visit Hell’s gate park
Visiting Hell’s gate national park is good all the year around but the best safari experience is got in the dry season, dry season in Hell’s gate park is experience in the months of June, July, august, September and October. In the dry period the park’s grassland cover is relatively short offering tourist uninterrupted view of the animals and also the animals are seen in large numbers at watering holes.
Accommodation in Hell’s gate national park
Hell’s gate national park is surrounded by many accommodation facilities you can chose from while on a safari, these accommodation facilities include lodges, hotels and campsites. Accommodation facilities include crater lake tented camp and game sanctuary, Loldia house, Naivasha kongoni lodge, sweet lake resort, buffalo view cottage , lake side villas, Endachata Campsite, Naiburta Campsite, Oldubai Campsite and many more.
How to get to Hell’s gate park
Hell’s gate national park is situated 90 kilometers from Nairobi town where most safaris to the park starts from, from Nairobi to Hell’s gate park both road and air means of transport can be used. By road means there is many routes connecting Hell’s gate park from Nairobi such as the route from Nairobi via Naivasha town on the lake road at a junction 5 kilometers south of Naivasha town.
Using air means of transport domestic flights are offered from both jomo Kenyatta international airport and Wilson airport landing at Naivasha airstrip which serves Hell’s gate park. when using flights to connect to the park for a safari, it is very important to book your flight earlier to avoid delays and missing flights as they are scheduled and on high demand.