Hell’s Gate National Park is located between Lake Naivasha and the volcanoes Longonot and Suswa. The national park has a total area of 26.35 square miles (68.25 sq km).
It’s covered in ash from the Longonot eruption 100 years ago. The park was opened in 1984.
The name of the park is derived from the main attraction, Hell’s Gate Gorge. Along the gorge, there are red-walled cliffs feature two volcanic rock formations. They are known as Fischer’s tower and Central tower.
In 1883, explorers Fischer and Thomson named it “hell’s gate.” A smaller gorge leads away from the central tower to an area of hot springs with rocks hot enough to burn and sulfuric water.
Hell’s Gate National Park is a popular national park in Kenya. This is due to its easy access from Nairobi as well as its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
The park is mostly made up of savannah ecosystems making it home to a diverse range of wildlife. The following animal species are frequently seen: lion, leopard, hyena, serval cat, cheetah, zebra, eland, buffalo, hartebeest, klipspringer, reedbuck, hyraxes, and Thomson’s gazelle.
There are over 100 different bird species. Some of the larger ones include the Verreaux eagle, augur buzzard, vultures, and swifts.
The park features a Masai Cultural Center. Guests can gain fascinating cultural insight into the Maasai tribe’s customs, traditions, and way of life from there.
The best time to see wildlife is at dawn when the majority of the animals are most active. The Aberdare range, Lake Naivasha, and Mount Longonot can all be seen in exceptional detail on walking and driving tours.
This park is one of the last places in Kenya where you can walk alongside herds of buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, and impala. Hyrax is abundant and can be seen scampering around the rocks in large numbers.
Other animals that may be seen in the park include the serval cat, the klipspringer, and a variety of others.
It has been estimated that the park is home to 103 different species of birds. During a one-day visit, one can reasonably expect to see at least 25-30 species.
The secretary bird and common ostrich patrol the valley floor while the augur buzzard is usually perched atop Fischer’s tower. This makes them the easiest to spot.
Thousands of Nyanza and Mottled Swifts nest on the 120m-high cliffs. These cliffs also serve as a unique breeding ground for the elusive Verreaux’s eagle and the rare lammergeier eagle.
The Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide is also a good place to go bird-watching. It features a one-way window through which visitors can view and photograph the park’s birds of prey up close.
Fischer’s tower is an excellent place for rock climbing. Fischer’s tower is a 25-meter-tall jagged volcanic plug that is the only remnant of an ancient volcano. It is named after the German explorer, Gustav Fischer.
According to local Maasai legend, the rock is the fossilized figure of a chief’s daughter. She turned around to take one last look at her home before leaving to marry which is against tradition. Additionally, a group of rock hyrax live on the rock.
Ol basta, a second rock tower, can be found at the gorge’s southern end. It denotes the point at which the gorge transforms into a tangled ravine.
There is a nature trail that is ideal for hiking. Explore the lower gorge/ Ol Njorowa gorge: The park’s main attraction is the lower gorge. A track leads down into the gorge just beyond the central tower. Walking through the gorge is an unforgettable experience.
It is a 2-hour journey through water-eroded walls that are so narrow they almost block out the sky. The gorge has several hot and cold waterfalls, hot water springs, and colorful strata and rock formations.
A visit to the Maasai cultural center provides insight into the Masai culture. Visitors have a great chance to familiarize with the Masai traditions and practices.
These obsidian rock caves are located on the buffalo circuit. Obsidian rock forms when molten volcanic lava comes into contact with water while being poured into a lake or ocean. As a result, the rock has a glassy texture.
Endachata, Naiburta, and Olduvai are the three well-managed camping areas at Hell’s Gate. You’ll fall asleep to the eerie sound of a hyena’s cackle and wake up early for a sunrise game drive if you camp here.
There are no hotels or lodges in the park. A variety of lodging options are available in Naivasha town and along Moi South Lake Road.
By road: Hell’s Gate is 90 km from Nairobi via Naivasha town and 5 km south of Naivasha.
By air: A domestic flight from Wilson Airport to Naivasha airstrip connects to Hell’s gate.
From June to March, Hell’s Gate National Park is best for general wildlife viewing and outdoor activities. This is the time of year when the park receives little rain.