Hell’s Gate National Park contains some of the most bizarre, unusual, and aesthetically stunning scenery seen anywhere in Africa, including towering cliffs, exploding gorges, dusty valleys, and wonderfully sculpted volcanic columns. Exploring it on foot or a mountain bike is recommended while on Kenya Safaris .
The Hell’s Gate National Park is a fascinating region of the Great Rift Valley and is named for the strong geothermal activity that occurs inside its borders. It is one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa thanks to the breathtaking environment, which includes towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, austere rock towers, scrub-clad volcanoes, and spewing plumes of geothermal steam. In addition to the bio-diversity, which includes raptors, tourists may enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing, and a natural spa at Hell’s Gate, which is a great destination for a day trip from Nairobi.
Although there are fewer animals, there is a wide range of animals. Predator species include the lion, leopard, hyena, serval, and cheetah, to name a few. Other well-liked species are Thomson’s gazelle, eland, zebra, buffalo, hartebeest, klipspringer, and reedbuck. The Verreaux’s eagle, the augur buzzard, and vultures, especially the rare lammergeyer vulture, are some of the larger species among the more than 100 different bird species.
The park’s cultural amenities include a Maasai Cultural Center where guests may find out more about the Maasai tribe’s traditions, customs, and general culture. This is a fantastic chance to learn more about a fascinating group of people who practice extraordinary rituals and practices.
The Park Wildlife.
Hell’s Gate is not a popular location for wildlife safaris. Only the buffalo of the Big Five are visible, and leopards are there but rarely seen. Eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, giraffe, and zebra are common. A pair of olive baboons can frequently be spotted resting on the rocks, and a skilled observer can discover a pair of klipspringers. The Chanler’s mountain reedbuck, which is less common, can be seen feeding on the grassy slopes.
One of the rarer antelope species that can be found in the park is the unassuming Chanler’s mountain reedbuck. Some of the smaller antelopes, like Kirk’s dik-dik and steenbok, can be found in the park. Although predators are difficult to notice, they exist here. Spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals are occasionally sighted at dusk. The exquisite serval might also be found by fortunate tourists.
The Best Time to View Wildlife
While Hell’s Gate is accessible year-round for biking and hiking, the best time to see wildlife is from June to October, when it’s dry and the grass is short. However, the wet season, which runs from November to May, is when the scenery is at its most breathtaking.
The best time/ Season to Visit
You don’t need to consider the timing of your visit because Hell’s Gate receives relatively few visitors overall, with the exception of the Christmas season. The greatest time to go wildlife viewing is during the dry season (June to October), when the animals are easier to spot in the sparser vegetation. The vegetation is in full bloom and you can find nesting birds of prey during the rainier months, on the other hand.
The Dry Season: June to October
- Sunny and dry, but not particularly warm.
- Days without rain are ideal for cycling and walking.
- Animals congregate near water and the grass is low, making them simple to identify.
- It is never crowded.
- There is a lot of dust in the sky, and the sight is not as impressive.
The Wet Season: November through May
- The park is lush, the skies are devoid of dust, and there are several flowers.
- Numerous young animals
- Due to the park’s small size, wildlife watching is still possible throughout the rainy season.
- It’s a great place to go bird watching, and there are migratory birds and raptors breeding on the cliffs.
- Rainy weather from March to May can make riding and walking difficult.
Tourist Attractions: what to see?
- The park’s main draw is Hell’s Gate Gorge, with Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower serving as supplementary highlights. The park draws tourists due to its diverse landscape and fauna as well as its proximity to Nairobi city.
- Both the Disney film Lion King and the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider-The Cradle of Life were inspired by the park. Trekking through the park is a highlight because hiking is prohibited in most of Kenya’s national parks. You can see a glimpse of some of the potential hiking pathways offered here.
- For those whose cultural interests go beyond the wilderness area’s inherent appeal, learning about the Masai people is a delight.
- It is one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa thanks to the breathtaking environment, which includes towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, austere rock towers, scrub-clad volcanoes, and spewing plumes of geothermal steam.
Other tourist attractions at hell’s gate national park includes:
- Wildlife viewing
- Raptor nesting in cliffs
- Hot springs
- The Olkaria Geothermal Station
- The Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide
- Tourist circuits, nature trails
- Health spa
Tourist Activities: what to do?
Following nature trails in the park is a great way to get up close to the abundant grazing species. You can tour the fascinating gorges in the park with a ranger. These gorges were carved out of the rock over many years by the constant flow of water.
Hell’s Gate Gorge, which served as the model for “pride rock” in the Disney film “The Lion King,” should not be missed. The filmmakers visited the park to observe this formation in order to recreate it for their movie.
A mountain bike.
An excellent and distinctive way to observe antelope, zebra, and other foraging animals is by bicycle. For views of giraffes and the adjacent Longonot volcano, travel the “buffalo circuit.”
A half-day expedition, the cycle track is best started early in the day before it gets too hot. Rental bicycles are available at Elsa’s Gate (the main gate), from where it is a 9 km (primarily downhill) journey to the gorge. The trip is scenic and passes through some of the park’s most popular sights, including volcanic plugs, lookouts, and zebra, giraffe, and buffalo grazing areas.
Rock climbing is a popular activity in Kenya, and Hell’s Gate National Park offers a variety of climbing opportunities for all skill levels. The most well-known landmarks are the 25-meter Fischer’s Towers and the soaring rock cliffs. Even for the simpler climbs, prior climbing expertise is not necessary; however, you must travel with a licensed operator. This activity goes well with a picnic lunch and a bike ride to the obsidian caves.
The Olkaria Geothermal Spa is a collection of three geothermal pools that are situated on the northernmost point of Hell’s Gate National Park. This is the ideal place to unwind and recover after cycling or hiking in the park because of the gorgeous, azure blue waters that are heated by the earth’s geothermal activity, sun loungers, and café. Only the third pool is cool enough to swim in, with temperatures ranging between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius.
The most scenic route to Hell’s Gate National Park is by road along the escarpment of the Rift Valley. According to traffic, which can be very backed up on the escarpment with Lorries coming from the Athi River, the 90-kilometer journey takes about two hours.
A quick flight from Wilson Airport to Naivasha is possible. Daily flights that take less than an hour are available, but they are rather pricey. You will be picked up by your lodging, which will also plan your excursions to Hell’s Gate National Park. If the Maasai Mara National Reserve is your final destination, you can also take a flight from here to get there.
Accommodation: where to stay?
There are a few undeveloped campsites in Hell’s Gate National Park for people who want to get back to the basics and spend time in the outdoors. However, individuals choosing affordable and upscale lodging choices will remain in Naivasha. Sopa Lodge, which is located on the southern shores of Lake Naivasha, provides visitors with the height of luxury. Two-story African-style rondavels with 84 rooms are tucked away in a lush acacia grove.
Queen-size twin beds, a balcony, and deep baths are features of the ground-floor accommodations. The bedrooms on the top floor offer a king-size bed and a balcony. The tables and chairs on the balconies provide a great area to relax and observe nature.
Camp Carnelley’s is surrounded by lush gardens and offers affordable and moderately priced lodging options near Hell’s Gate with fantastic views of Lake Naivasha (if you pitch your tent, you have the greatest possibility of securing a great view). Both the six-person Bandas and the two-person cottages have en suite bathrooms. The dormitories include eight beds and a common bathroom.
Campsites in hell’s gate national park includes:
- Endachata Campsite
- Naiburta Campsite
- Oldubai Campsite
How Does Your Kenyan Adventure Fit With Hell’s Gate National Park?
If you have an additional day in Nairobi, Hell’s Gate National Park, which is less than two hours away by car over the Rift Valley escarpment, is an excellent place to spend it. It can also be coupled with Lake Naivasha for an overnight stay.
In addition to being close to Kenya’s renowned Maasai Mara, Hell’s Gate is situated in the country’s southwest. When traveling to the Mara, you can either fly to Lake Naivasha from the Mara or take the picturesque journey via the Rift Valley floor.