To the south of Lake Naivasha and North West of Nairobi, Kenya, Hell’s Gate is a relatively small national park by Kenyan standards, a clutch of savannah ecosystems, home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Named by the explorers Fisher and Thomson in 1883 after their defeat against the hostile Maasai warriors, the park is actually very peaceful (big predators like lions are present, but very rarely spotted). Visitors can wander safely along alongside giraffe, gazelles and antelopes on the grassy plains, with towering cliffs looming in the background.
Covered by ashes from the Longonot eruption 100 years ago, the park is known for its geothermal station, lower gorge and spectacular scenery, with huge gorges, looming cliffs, and basalt columns on offer. Buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, baboons, antelope and over 100 species of birds call Hell’s Gate home, and the park offers the only chance to walk and cycle unguided through a National Park in Kenya.
Cost of Hell’s Gate National Park
The park entry fee is $25 per person per day, and $10 per child per day.
Hell’s Gate National Park Highlights
Walking the lower gorge is one of the park’s main highlights, with colourful rock formations, waterfalls, springs and cave walls eroded by water on show (Tomb Raider and King’s Solomon’s Mines we filmed here).
The Olkaria Geothermal Station is also a fascinating sight. Standing over the lava flow of the (extinct) Ol Karia volcano, the station exploits the steam beneath the surface, and provides electricity for 25% of Kenyans.
Make sure you also visit Fischer Tower and Central Tower – two striking rock formations worth visiting near the main entrance of the park.
Bird lovers should head to the Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide, a unique bird-viewing areas with a one-way window that allows visitors t snap raptors at close range.
Activities at Hell’s Gate National Park
Game viewing is just the tip of the iceberg at Hell’s Gate. The park is excellent for rock climbing (Fischer’s Tower is a particularly popular site), and wandering through nature trails, gorges, cycling trips, and taking picnics are al great ways to explore. Naivasiha lake is also great for watersports.
Getting to Hell’s Gate National Park
By road, the park can be reached by a tarmac road from Nairobi (90kms), or by air, landing at Naivasha air strip
Staying at Hell’s Gate National Park
Whilst there is no accommodation within the park, a wide selection of properties abound close by. In Sulma village near Lake Naivasha, Crayfish Camp offers self-catering, camping, B&B and caravanning, natural acacia woodland within one of the large flower farms.
For a truly premium experience, stay in a private house like Kililecha. The “place on the hill” boasts breathtaking views of the scenery, a large kitchen, gardens, and four terraces overlooking the lake and the Aberdare mountain range. A local chef can be arranged, and a local guide with a car for exploring the park.
Slightly less opulent but still luxurious is the Mount Longono Lodge in the Rift Valley, on 82,000 acres of un-fenced land. Situated on a ranch, and with scenic views of the park and Lake Naivasha, birds and wild animals can easily be spotted, as they come to drink a mere 50m from the house. Horse riding, boat rides and hiking are just some of the activities on offer.