Hells Gate national park
Hells Gate national park is a scenic Kenya safari destination characterized of diverse topography and geological scenery, the park is located in the Nakuru County in the Rift valley Province and lies between Lake Naivasha, Longonot and Suswa Volcanoes. Hells Gate national park is situated in a distance of 90 kilometers south West of Nairobi and about 14 kilometers off the old Nairobi -Naivasha highway, the park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the rift valley. The park received its name from explorers Fisher and Thomson in 1883 when they visited the area.
Hells Gate national park covers an area of 68.25 square kilometers and sits at the elevation of 1,900 meters above the sea level, the park is made of a very scenic landscape composed of various features created during the eruption of Mount Longonot which happened over 100 years ago and the ashes cover the park. Some of the magnificent features making up the landscape of Hells Gate national park include the Hell’s Gate Gorge (lower gorge) which has Fischer’s Tower and the Central Tower which are two volcanic plugs boarded with red cliffs, hot springs, a geothermal station(Olkaria geothermal station), geothermal steam and volcanic gorges.
The park was established in 1984 as a small national park with a purpose of protecting a wide variety of wildlife found in the park and the spectacular scenic features including Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower and Hell’s Gate Gorge.
Hells Gate national park is also composed of open plains which are a home to various species of wildlife including cape buffaloes, lions, leopards, black backed jackals, hartebeests, Thomson gazelles, eland, cheetahs, impala, zebras, spotted hyenas, defassa waterbuck among others.
The national park is also a great habitat for birds with over 130 species including the famous endemic lammergeyer, raptors and migratory bird species. Birds found in Hells Gate national 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, Schalow’s wheatear, Verreaux’s eagle, White-rumped swift, Yellow bishop, Yellow-rumped seedeater among others
Kenya safari activities to do in Hells Gate national park
Game viewing is an entertaining Kenya safari activity where you get to explore the savannah section of the park in a 4X4 wheel vehicle with a pop up roof, Hells gate national park is a habitat for various species of animals which are spotted while in game viewing safari. Game drives are done either in the morning or in the afternoon, during these drives lookout for animals such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, gazelles, giraffes, zebras, rock hyraxes, cape buffaloes and many more.
Hells gate national park is one of the best destination to visit on Kenya birding safaris, the park boosts over 100 species of birds.The national park is a renowned breeding place for lammergeyers, while on a birding experience in the park you will enjoy watching many colorful bird species such as 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, Schalow’s wheatear, Verreaux’s eagle, White-rumped swift, Yellow bishop, Yellow-rumped seedeater and many more.
The national park is a famous destination for Kenya rock climbing safaris, the park comprises of various features including steep rugged cliffs and deep concealed gorges which are climbed. Rock climbing in the gate national park takes you on a climb to Fischer’s tower, this tower was formed as by semi-molten rock forced to crack, cooling and hardening while extruding.
The Fisher Tower stands at the altitude of 25 meters and situated near the main entrance of the park, while climbing on this tower you will enjoy a Maasai folk tale passed on to you by the local guide. According to the Maasai flock tale a Maasai girl was turned into a stone after disobeying her family before wedding, when you look at tower and its form it resembles a shape of a girl.
Bicycle riding is a very adventurous activity done on trails passing through the rugged terrain of the park, while on this activity you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the park and spot a number of animals living in the park such as Thomson’s gazelles, olive baboons, hartebeests, elands among others.
Hiking and scenery
Hiking in Hells gate national park is an amazing activity for tourists who want to interact more with nature and enjoy beautiful scenery of the park, hiking in the park takes you on a walk through deep gorges, red colored cliffs, rock towers, hot springs, geysers and many more. Hiking and scenery safaris in Hells Gate national park also take you on a walk in the Obsidian caves on a cave walk, Obsidian cave is visited on during your walk on the Buffalo circuit, the cave was formed as a result of rapid cooling of molten volcanic lava coming into contact with water while being poured into a lake or ocean thus resulting into a glassy texture of the rock. During your walk in the cave you will enjoy watching small air bubbles producing interesting effects such as golden sheen commonly known as Sheen Obsidian or Rainbow Obsidian.
Where to stay in Hells Gate national park
The park has a number of better accommodation facilities to stay at while on a Kenya safari in this scenic park, these accommodation facilities range from budget, midrange and luxury and they include Camp Carnelley’s camp, Fish Eagle Inn among others.
How to get to Hells Gate national park
The park is situated in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya with Nakuru city as the nearest city, this parkis very accessible and is accessed using both road and air means of transport which are readily available in Kenya.
By road: most safaris to Hells Gate national park start from Nairobi the capital of Kenya, from Nairobi the park is accessed via a tarmac road of 90 kilometers from Nairobi via Naivasha Town on the Lake road South at a junction 5 kilometers south of Naivasha. From Naivasha Town you can either hire a special car to the park or just proceed to the park if you are using a vehicle offered by your tour operator.
By air: domestic chartered flights to the park are offered Wilson Airstrip to Naivasha airstrip which serves the park and the neighboring areas, these domestic flights are offered by numerous domestic airlines such as Safari Link.