Hell’s gate national park is located in the south of Lake Naivasha, 90 kilometers northwest of the Kenyan capital city Nairobi. The park was named after the narrow break of the cliffs, named by the early explorers Thomson and Fisher in 1880. Hell’s Gate national park was established in 1984. Named as “a walk on the wild side” is a home of the largest geothermal station in Kenya.
The Hell’s gate national park covers a total land area of 68.25 square kilometers around the environs of the Lake Naivasha. It’s a 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Nairobi along the good scenic tarmac road where one has a great view of the Great rift valley and its features. The park is finally accessed through a 14-kilometer rough road after breaking off from the main road of Nairobi – Naivasha highway.
Its characterized by a wide diversified topography and rift valley scenery, the park is considered among the small parks in Africa. It’s famous for its wide range of wildlife, scenic views, and geothermal stations. The central tower, Fischer’s tower, and the Hell’s gate form the large Hell’s gate national park. The park is a home of the first ad oldest geothermal station in Africa, there are three stations found in Olkaria. The park has two gates those are Elsa Gate which is the main gate and Olkaria gate.
Once a prehistoric lake is now one of the most remarkable national parks around Lake Naivasha. The park boasts for its good hiking and cycling trails that gives guest to enjoy their best to enjoy game drives.
Attractions in Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s gate national park has scenic beauty gifted by nature is one of the parks one can do game drives on a bicycle ride. Walking safaris are also allowed inside the park. Below are some of the key attractions in Hell’s gate national park
Scenery views: The park is gifted with scenic beautiful towering cliffs, stark rock tower, Water-Quogue gorges. Surrounded by various towers like Fischer’s tower, central tower and gorges which were formed under the process of Vulcanicity. It’s an open park that has more popular rocks that are used by travellers as climbing sites.
Wildlife: Hell’s gate national park has a wide range of wildlife though it is not a big 5 of Africa destination. The most common and easily sited animals are Zebras, Gazelle, Impala, giraffe, hyena, buffalo, waterbuck, baboons, and many others. The park has over 100 bird species especially the vultures, buzzards, swifts, eagles, and others.
Hot springs: There are several Hot springs found in the park, the hot springs produce hot water and vapour. These hot springs were formed under the activity of volcanicity, the hot springs are one of the key attractions that many guests come to see at Hell’s gate national park as the powers of nature.
Geothermal station: This is the biggest and the oldest Geothermal station in Africa. The power station is called Olkaria 1 Geothermal Power Plant that generates around 185 megawatts. Located inside the heart of Hell’s gate national park with other sister power plant stations like Olkaria 11 and Olkaria 111. Found at the Eastern edge of the Great Rift valley. Currently, the Olkaria 1 geothermal power station is one of the 6 geothermal power stations found in Nakuru county. Among the 6 the four are operational while the other two are under construction.
Activities at Hell’s gate park
Bird watching: With over 100 bird species found in Hell’s gate national park, the park boasts as one of the birding paradises. The park is famous as the breeding place for Lammergeyers which is one of the rare species of Vultures. The park also hosts some migratory birds from different parts of the world. The migratory birds come for breeding which arrives on rainy season of March to May and November. Other bird species found at the park include African Kestrel, Schalow’s wheatear, Augur Buzzard, Ostrich, Golden-winged Sunbird, imperial eagle, yellow-rumped seed eater, rupells vultures and many more.
Game viewing: The park is among the smallest parks not only in Kenya but Africa as a continent but its size does not reign the beauty of the park. Hell’s gate national park gifted by nature with a lot of animals like giraffes, buffalos, gazelles, eland, leopards, cheetahs, baboons, monkeys and others. One can do game viewing on safari van or even hire a sportbike and view animals while riding the bicycle. The game viewing can be down throughout the year both morning and evening game drives can be done.
Rock Climbing: Hell’s gate national park is one of the parks where bare rock climbing can be excellently done. Hiking to Fischer’s tower and other edges of the rocks is a wonderful challenge for the tourist who may not have enough time to climb high Mountains like Mt Kenya or Mt Kilimanjaro. The rocks are formed as a result of volcanicity where the melted rock solidified after cooling. All the hiking gears are available for hire at the park headquarters, experienced guides will take you through the hike.
Cycling: It’s only in Hell’s gate national park that guests can do scenic views of the park while on a ride. Its more physical but enjoyable game drives. Sloping and hiking through the animal routes while on a bicycle is a very enjoyable activity. See animals when they are on their natural habitat at ease.
Nature guided walks: We do have guided nature in the middle of the park, move on foot close to the animals and see the birds. Make fun with monkeys as they parade along the way while the young ones play. Nature guided walks take you through different attractions at Hell’s gate national park like Geothermal power station, caves, rocks, and others.
Hell’s gate national park is a scenic park that gives you a wide challenging but more experiential safari in Africa. You can have a one-day safari to Hell’s gate national park and enjoy the African wilderness before you return back to your hotel/accommodation in Nairobi.