Hells Gate National Park is one of Kenya’s greatest treasures imbued by alluring sites and history. It is a small park compared to its counterparts although the variety of wildlife it carries is to be envied. Established in 1984, it is located south of Lake Naivasha northwest of Nairobi. The park acquired its name from a narrow break in the cliffs that was once a tributary of pre-historic lakes found in the Rift-Valley during early times. The national park acts as a home to three of the country’s geothermal stations at Olkaria. The park is quite scenic and offers amazing views of gorges and cliffs.
The popularity of the park comes from its close proximity to Nairobi as well as its ease of access from the city. It is a household choice when individuals seek adventure but do not want to venture too far from home. Its park fees are also favourable and henceforth can be visited all year round. Activities such as hiking, motorcycling and most prolific biking appeal to the younger demographic and a s such are widely practiced within the National Park. It is one of the only two Kenyan national parks that allow such practices within it. The mountain climbing within the park can only be described as exhilarating and thrilling since it engages one’s mind as well as bodily muscles.
The main setting for the 1994 film ‘The Lion King’ was heavily modelled from within this beautiful national park. Many of the crew that were involved in the production of the film visited the park first to gain appreciation of the environment for the film.
How to Get to Hell Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park covers a total area of 26 square miles. It is at 1900 metres above sea-level. It is near Lake Naivasha within Lake Nakuru County. Located approximately ninety kilometres from Nairobi, 14kilometers from the turnoff from the old Nairobi-Naivasha Highway. The climate in the area is hot and dry.
What to do in Hells Gate National Park
One gains a greater appreciation for local fauna after they visit the National Park. There is a variety of wildlife that can be found within the park such as lions, leopards and cheetahs which are seen quite minimally. Other animals more regularly seen include the hyraxes, hyenas, Thompson’s gazelle, zebras, eland, hartebeest and the African buffalo. It is home to the rare lammergeyer vultures that are only found within this ark. Besides the vultures, there are over 103 bird species that provide a bird watcher with an array of species to choose from. For instance, the augur buzzard, swifts and verreaux’s eagles.
As afore-mentioned, the park allows individuals to cycle around the park as they appreciate the fauna and the scenery. Renting a bicycle comes at a cost of between shs. 1000 and shs. 1500. If in need of a guide one can be provided for you during the entire duration of your cycling activities.
Another exciting activity that one can indulge in is the visiting of the water gorges found within Hells Gate National Park. It is necessary to use a guide when carrying out this activity since it may be dangerous to go on your own. It is considered one of the most interesting activities to undertake within the park.
Fischer’s Tower provides a marvellous place to conduct mountain climbing. Hiking and walking can also be done around the canyon. Some areas have sandy hills that go up to 30 meters tall and from this vantage points, the view of the area is absolutely breath-taking. The descents need the assistance of an experienced guide since they be slippery.
Finally enjoy the hot springs and the geysers that led to the formation of the Olkaria Geothermal Station that was the first of its kind in Africa.
It is possible to find accommodation options near the national park including some lovely lodges and camps in Naivasha which are in very close proximity. The hotels range from budget, mid-range and luxury and are ripe for the picking during any time of the year.
Park rules/code of conduct
Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.
Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph).
Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat.
When viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.
Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects.
Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.
Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Park between 6.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.
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