HELL’S GATE NATIONAL PARK IN KENYA
Hell’s gate national park is a popular national park in Kenya because of its easy access from Nairobi as well as the variety of wildlife and amazing landscapes that can be experienced with a visit to the park. But the park has variety of wildlife is abundant and some of species include hyena, eland, buffalo, hartebeest ,klipspringer, reedbuck, hyraxes and Thomson’s gazelle, with also more than 100 species of birds for example verreaux eagle, augur buzzard and vultures including the rare lammergeyer vultures.
Hell’s gate national park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once tributary of a prehistorical lake that fed early humans in the Rift valley. It was established in 1984.Asmall national park, it is known for its wide variety of wildlife and for its scenery. This includes the Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower columns and Hell’s gate Gorge. The national park is also home to five geothermal power stations at Olkaria. Hell’s gate national park has a lot of activities to be done in the park as follows, game driving, Hiking, Rock climbing, Cycling, Bird watching, Ol Karia Geothermal Spa, The Maasai culture center/Manyattas, Lake Naivasha, Walking safaris. Hell’s gate national park’s has attractions that includes Fisher’s Tower and Central Tower, Lower Gorge (Ol Njorowa), The Obsidian Caves
Geographical Location of Hell’s Gate National Park.
Hells Gate National Park covers an area of 68.25 square kilometers (26 sq mi) relatively small by African Standards. The Park is at 1,900 meters (6,200 ft.) Above sea level. It is with in Nakuru county, near Lake Naivasha and approximately 90 kilometers (56 mi) from Nairobi. The park is located 14 kilometers (9 mi) after the turnoff from the off Nairobi- Naivasha highway, and has a warm and dry climate.
Olkaria and Holbey’s two extinct volcanoes located in the park, can be seen as well as obsidian forms from the cool molten lava. Within Hell Gate is the Gate Gorge, lined with red cliffs which contain two volcanic plugs; Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower. Off of Central Tower is a smaller gorge which extends to the South, with a path that descends into hot springs that have rocks hot enough to cause burns and sulfuric water. Hell’s gate national park has a warm and dry climate, but is dependent from the season. The driest period is in September and Rainy season lasts from March to May.
Attractions in Hell’s gate national park
The attractions for visitors in Hells gate national park includes.
Wildlife and bird species.
There are various animal species in Hell’s gate national park that be physically seen forexample the gazelle, klipspringers, rock hyrax, giraffe, buffalo and among others. Bird species also includes vultures, verreaux’s eagle, lammergeyer, augur buzzard and among others which can be sighted among the cliffs and flying in the park.
There are many hot springs found inside the park, they produce hot vapor with water. These were formed due to the effect of volcanicity like all other Great Rift Valley parks which contained some features of the volcanic activity. Tourists especially researchers always come here for their research on the effects of volcanicity in the area.
Olkaria 1 Geothermal station found in Hell’s gate national park is the oldest and the largest geothermal station not only in Kenya but entire Africa. The power point produces over 185 megawatts of electricity which is supplied across the Nakuru region. There are several other sister power plant stations like Olkaria 11 and Olkaria 111, found at the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley. Geothermal station is located inside the heart of Hell’s gate national park.
Fischer’s tower and central tower.
These are volcanic plugs of hard igneous rock that resisted erosion to form rocky columns which are rock climbing spots for tourists visiting Hell’s gate national park. The Fischer’s tower is located near the main entrance of the national park. The tower was formed due to semi molten rock forcing into a fissure that cooled and solidified to form extrusion. The formation of Fischer’s tower is also attached to certain local folk stories of the Masai people who believe that the rock is a Masai girl who turned into stone after turning her back on her father on her way to her future husband contrary to tradition. Fischer’s tower is found in the north eastern end of Hell’s gate national park and is walkable distance from Elsa gate.
These are located on obsidian rock in the buffalo circuit. Obsidian rock was formed as a result of the rapid cooling of molten lava coming into contact with water resulting into glassy texture of the rock.
Lower gorge or Ol Njorwa gorge.
Is an attraction formed as a result of geological activity found in Hell’s gate national park characterized by water eroded walls which block out the sky. This gorge is famous for a variety of movie productions such as tomb raider which were shot from this gorge and inspired the movie production.
Hells gate gorge.
This is the deep valley that runs through the national park and it is characterized by rock walls and high volcanic column which can be climbed with a guide. Some animals can be spotted with in the valley and they include zebras, giraffes and some bird species and that’s where geothermal projects can be take place around this place and industrial pipelines can be seen as you drive through the valley.
Hell’s gate national Activities in park.
There are number of activities done in Hell’s gate national as they include.
Cycling is done in Hell’s gate national park, here you can bring your own bicycle or you can rent one upon arrival at the gate. It’s about 18km from the gate to main gate to the Hell’s gate gorge along murrum road. Some animals can be spotted like zebras, hartebeest, gazelles, jackals and many other wildlife species.
Hell’s gate national park is a home of variety of animals thus providing a gainful game viewing most especially during morning hours. During game viewing you experience animals like buffalos, giraffes, zebras and huge rodents. Drive through the national park allows a view of the valley on either side of which are red rock cliffs where klipspringers and rock hyraxes can be sighted as wee.
This can be done by tourists in Hell’s gate national park and there is climbing gear which can be hired for climbing the cliffs. It’s done in the company of the park ranger/guide and the rock climbing spots include the Fetcher’s tower which inspired the ‘pride rock’ in the animation lion king.
Hiking in Hell’s gate national park.
For those willing to make their more experimental, they can go hiking safaris, this is one of the popular activities at Hell’s gate national park while hiking you can come across water holes and panoramic hot springs crowded with wildlife not forgetting the clear views of the vast valley.
There are camping sites at the park that provide camping facilities, tourists can pitch up their tents and enjoy the night close to wind. There are also various accommodation units with comfortable rooms such as Lake Naivasha Simba lodge, Lake Naivasha Sopa resort and many others.
Experiencing African culture (Maasai people)
There is Maasai cultural center within the park that will provide you with what you need about the Maasai people with their unique culture and ways of live. Tourists can also acquire gifts from the craft shops to take back home for remembrance.
Nature guided walks.
Nature guided walks are done in Hell’s gate national park which can be taken to various destinations walking along with the wild.
Hell’s gate national park, bird watching remains one of the key birding areas with abundant unique savannah bird species. There are the rare mottled swift and more bird species like Sharpe’s claw, Shelly’s rufous sparrow. The park itself remains a central figure for the parallactic migrants like European bee-eater, common buzzard, whinchat, Siberian stonechat and among others. The park also inhabits intra-afro migrants like abdim’s stork, southern poched. On a lucky day, you can tick off about between 70-130 bird species although it’s better that the park has recorded of 165 birds species including the rare Boran Cisticole.
Best time to visit Hell’s Gate National Park.
Hell’s Gate National park offers reasonable wildlife viewing throughout the year, but the rains might interfere with your activities during the main wet season months (March, April, and May)
Best time; June to March is the best for general wildlife viewing and outdoor activities (Little rain)
High season; The park is little visited throughout the year, but Naivasha gets busy with experts on school holidays, especially over Christmas (Accommodation in Naivasha might be harder to book)
Low season; The park is little visited throughout the year (it never gets crowded)
Best weather; June to February (Little rain)
Worst weather; March to May (Heavy rainfall)
How to get to Hell’s gate national park.
Hell’s gate national park can be accessed through by road or air transport.
The park is situated in the rift valley province of Kenya with Nakuru city as the nearest city, this park is very accessible and is accessed using both road and air by means of transport which are readily available in Kenya.
By the road transport.
The best way to get to Hell’s gate national park is by road along scenic Rift valley escarpment. The journey is 90 km and roughly takes two roads depending on traffic, which can get quite congested on the escarpment with Lorries travelling from Athi River. The park is accessible through tarmac road from Nairobi through Naivasha Town on the Lake Road South at the junction 5km south of Naivasha. From Naivasha Town you can either either a special car to the park or just proceed to the park if you using vehicle offered by your tour operator. Hell’s gate is located 100km/62 mi northwest of Nairobi and 18km/11mi west of Naivasha. As there is no accommodation in the park, most people visit as a day trip from Lake Naivasha, Naivasha is easily reached by car through atar road from Nairobi. Naivasha is convenient stop-over between Nairobi and the Masai Mara. The distance from Nairobi to Hell’s gate national park is 2hr 35 min (125.2 km) through Old Naivasha Road/C88, 2 hr. 46 min (118.1 km) through Road/C88 and Moi S Lake Road.
By Air/flight transport.
Chartering flights between parks can be an efficient way to travel. These flights are booked by tour operators as part of their package. Most domestic flights, including to Naivasha, leave from Wilson airport (WIL), 6km /4mi south of Nairobi. Domestic flights to Naivasha can be booked with Safari link.
You can check skyscnner,or, or for multiple-destination flights check Expedient see which airlines can take you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport(NBO),and what tickets world cost. www.skyscanner.com, www.expendia.com.