Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is set in the Northwest of Nairobi and South of Naivasha. It takes its name from the narrow gate like a break on the red stone volcanic cliff which formed due to geothermal activity. A visit to this park on Kenya safari rewards travel endeavors with jaw-dropping views of the mighty East African Rift Valley. It was designated as a national park in 1984 and it occupies an area of about 68sq.kms which makes it one of Kenya’s smallest parks. The park also hosts the Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower columns as well as Hell’s Gate Gorge.
History of Hell’s Gate National Park
Like any park in Kenya, Hell’s Gate National Park features a unique history which is worth exploring on Kenya safari. Its history can be traced as far as 1883 when Fisher and Thomson gave it a name. The park derived its name from a narrow break in the cliffs which initially a tributary of a prehistoric Lake which fed early humans in the rift valley.
Mount Longonot erupted in the 1900s and while at Hell’s Gate, it is claimed the ash can still be felt. Hell’s Gate National Park was designated as a national park in 1984 and today, it is remarkably one of Kenya’s magical safari destination visitors on Kenya safari should consider a must-visit.
- Wildlife in Hell’s Gate National Park
Regardless of its small size, Hell’s Gate National Park boasts of its diverse wildlife species which make it an outstanding game-viewing safari destination in Kenya. Among the many wildlife species to view in the park include wild dog, cheetahs, leopards, hartebeest, bat-eared fox, lions, elands, giraffes, olive baboon, Thompson gazelles, spotted hyenas, stripe hyenas, impalas, buffaloes, rock hyraxes, zebras, klipspringer, Chanler’s mountain reedbuck and many more.
- Birdlife in Hell’s Gate National Park
Over 103 birdlife are all confined in Hell’s Gate National Park and birders on Kenya safari have opportunity to identify birds such as the Augur Buzzard, Verreaux’s eagle, Ruppel’s griffon, speckled pigeons, wailing cisticola, white-fronted bee-eaters, Schawlow’s wheatear, Anteater chat and red-winged starling, Lanner falcons, spotted eagle owls, mottled and Horus swifts, white-backed vultures, Egyptian vultures, yellow bishops, African kestrel, grey crested helmet shrike, ball fetch, arrow market babblers, chin spot batis, Masai ostriches, streaky seedeater, brown Parisoma, Hunter’s sunbirds, Lammergeyer and many others. Other attractions in Hell’s Gate National Park include Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower, Hell’s Gate Gorge, Ol Njorwa Gorge, Obsidian Caves, Ol Karia Geothermal Power Station.
Activities to do in Hell’s Gate National Park
- Wildlife viewing
Game viewing in Hell’s Gate National Park involves sighting different wildlife species like Thompson gazelles, spotted hyenas, wild dog, cheetahs, leopards, hartebeest, bat-eared fox, lions, elands, giraffes, olive baboon, stripe hyenas, impalas, buffaloes, rock hyraxes, zebras, Chanler’s mountain reedbuck and klipspringer.
Bird watching in Hell’s Gate National Reserve rewards birders with astonishing bird sights such as Augur buzzard, Verreaux’s eagle, Ruppel’s griffon, speckled pigeons, wailing cisticola, white-fronted bee-eaters, Schawlow’s wheatear, Anteater chat, and red-winged starling, Lanner falcons, spotted eagle owls, ball fetch, arrow market babblers, chin spot batis, Masai ostriches, streaky seedeater, brown Parisoma, Hunter’s sunbirds, Lammergeyer mottled and Horus swifts, white-backed vultures, Egyptian vultures, yellow bishops, African kestrel, grey crested helmet shrike to mention but a few.
Rock climbing in this park allows you to explore iconic sites like Fischer’s tower which formed as a result of semi-solid molten rock. It is best explored with climbing equipment which you can hire.
The best hikes in Hell’s Gate National Reserve are carried out along the River Gorges. Hikers have the opportunity to explore the park’s scenic sites like rock towers, hot springs, geysers, deep gorges.
Other activities to do in Hell’s Gate National Reserve include a cultural tour in Masai cultural center, camping, cycling and many more.
- Best time to visit Hell’s Gate National Reserve
Game viewing in Hell’s Gate National Reserve is best conducted in June and March. During this period, the park experiences low rainfall thus making it easier for visitors to navigate through the park.
- Where to stay in Hell’s Gate National Reserve
Budget: Triple Eden Naivasha Hotel, Naivasha Tree House, Burch’s Resort Naivasha
Mid-range: Eseriani the Hotel, Hippos Safaris Resort, Sweet Lake Resort, Lake Naivasha Resort.
Luxury: Mvuke Spa, Kiboko Luxury Camp, Naivasha Kongoni Lodge.
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