Things to Do on a Day Trip to Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya
Kenya is a country of stunning natural beauty, with 22 National Parks and 28 National Reserves. There are loads of unusual things to try in each one of them, but if you're in Nairobi, Hell's Gate is the place to go.
Hell’s Gate National Park is within easy driving distance of the city and an ideal spot to take a day trip. To sweeten the deal even further, the route to Naivasha from Nairobi has a stunning view of the Great Rift Valley.
The canyon of Hell’s Gate National Park has inspired Hollywood films like "The Lion King" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."
Hell's Gate is a rather small park, covering an area of 68.25 square kilometers, located near Naivasha town in Nakuru County. It was established in 1984 and named after a narrow break in the cliffs. It is a unique place containing natural landscapes, towering cliffs, camping sites, Hell’s Gate Gorge, and geothermal springs. It also offers an unusual game drive inside the park.
Things to Do in Hell's Gate National Park
It's easy to plan a day trip to Hell’s Gate National Park, but if you have the time, I recommend planning a weekend trip and camping overnight inside the park. There is just so much to see and do!
Appreciate the Local Fauna
This is one of the few parks where visitors can bike or walk inside the park to watch the animals. Visitors can spot giraffe, zebra, buffalo, Thomson's gazelle, and other antelopes. This park is a also good site for birdwatchers.
This park does not have dangerous animals other than African buffalo, but it’s still wise to take care while moving inside the park.
Cycle Through the Park
Visitors can go cycling around the park and pass by the zebras and giraffes on the way. The cost of taking a bicycle inside is KSH 200, while the cost of renting a bike is around KSH 1,000 to KSH 1,500. One can rent a bike at the junction before the entrance. They may ask for more money, but one can usually negotiate a bit to get it down to a fair price.
Visit the Gorges
One does not need a guide to walk or cycle around the park, but a guide is must if you plan on going into the water-gouged gorges. This is one of the most exciting activities in the park, but it is risky too. If one wishes to go there, they must be careful and hire a guide. Maasai people serve as guides to lead visitors through the gorges.
Hike, Climb, or Walk the Canyons
This park may have fewer animals to watch than some of Kenya's other parks, but it makes up for it with activities like mountain climbing, camping, hiking, and canyon walking.
Visitors can do a bit of hiking while walking around the canyon. In some places, sandy rock walls stand 30 meters tall. As you can imagine, the views of the gorge from these high vantage points are wondrous, but hiking there is tricky and risky. The descents are slippery and steep, and hikers require an expert guide.
There are some good places for mountain climbing. Fischer’s Tower is a great site for the mountain climber. It is not too difficult to climb, but one needs to be fit and experienced enough to take on the challenge. Climber with moderate skills will love climbing this cliff. They will, of course, require proper equipment and guidance.
Visit the Hot Springs
Visitors can swim in hot springs and see a small waterfall in the gorge. What a unique and refreshing experience!
It is a great idea to go camping in the park, and many visitors do so. Visitors must bring all their own camping gear and firewood, though, so keep that in mind if you decide to camp there.
Hell's Gate Park Risks and Precautions
It is amazing to explore the canyon, but there is a risk of flash floods. In some cases, both visitors and their guides have been washed away and lost their lives. If you don't want to take the risk, you can opt to see the canyon from outside instead.
If you still want to walk the canyons, for a safer visit, consider the precautions below.
- Going there in the rainy season is a big "NO." The risk of flash floods is very high at that period.
- Unless you only plan on walking and cycling, going there without a trained guide is not at all a safe option. The ascents and descents for hikers and climbers are acute and slippery, and only guides know how to navigate those areas safely.
- There are few emergency exits which a guide can locate quickly. One needs to be fit enough to climb there.
Park Hours and Entry Fees
Hell's Gate is open to the public between 9 AM and 6 PM, seven days a week. One needs to produce a valid ID at the entrance and pay a moderate fee.
How to Get There
Hell’s Gate National Park lies around 90 km away from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The nearest airport to the park is JKIA Nairobi. The following options are available to get there from the city.
- Purchase a day-trip package from any travel operator from Nairobi. With a bit of negotiation, you should be able to settle your trip costs for around $60 to $80 for a couple, including a visit to Naivasha Lake.
- Rent a car. (The entry fee is KSH 350 for cars with less than six seats.)
- Take public transportation from Nairobi to Naivasha town.
- Fly from Nairobi to Naivasha and connect to Hell's Gate from there.
I urge you to take the ground transport route by car. There are a few stunning viewpoints on the way where you can take in the scenic beauty of Great Rift Valley.
Thanks for reading. Do visit and share your experience with the park. Please post your comments and questions below!
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