Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is part of the Tentative list of Kenya in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Hell’s Gate National Park is known for its on-going geological processes which can be seen at hot water geysers and hot springs. Hells Gate Gorge is lined with red cliffs which contain two volcanic plugs: Fischer's Tower and Central Tower. Obsidian rocks can be seen as well from the cool molten lava.
Map of Hell’s Gate National ParkLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
This park is a dream come true. No more being locked into your safari vehicle for hours, no more having to follow your tour guide, you roam free! Yes, self-drive you can do that too but wait for it: you can cycle through this park!! A large area of the park just screams biking and you should get into the spirit.
First off you should stay at the Lake Naivasha accomodations to get an early start. The lake happens to be a UNESCO site too but without getting too much into it, the lake is quite cut off from a casual visit and requires staying at specific lodges or doing a boat cruise to see the hippos. You want to stay here for convenience although it's only a 90min drive from Nairobi.
I recommend entering Elsa gate. You can rent bikes here. I parked my car and entered on the good bikes. The park opens up majestically, a wow effect I don't get often. You need to experience to understand as the cliffs and see scenery pops up in front if you. The entire path here is flat. You'll be welcomed by zebras, buffaloes, giraffes if lucky and maybe some monkeys. No lions, elephants, leopards. It's super safe. Follow the path to the ranger station where you can pay a guide for a short walk, max 1h, to the lookout of the nearby cliff. I feel they only require guides as money-making scheme but no way around it. I now recommend you cycle back and enter by car so you will need to have bought a permit for that beforehand too. Follow the path back yo the ranger station and continue on towards the volcano. You'll get a view of the entire area from up here plus plenty of sulphur steam vents. You could even drive up to the volcano crater but I felt the huge parking lot is better and the zebras enjoyed the car for shade so I walked up instead. On your way you will also have notices one of the biggest problems with the park - it's being totally "exploited" for the thermo heat. Sure it's a natural resource we should use but all the pipelines, huge factories INSIDE the park, roads being built to support all that and the trash, destruction and intrusion it comes with it are an eyesore. The beauty that was so obvious as you entered from Elsa gate quickly is forgotten. I even got lost in the road network trying to find the volcano - nasty. This definitely needs to be cleaned up and reorganized.
To end this review on a high I also want to recommend the hot springs! It's at the southwest side of the park where you can later exit from as well. The hot spring had a huge pool as big as the one in Iceland, a kid's pool as well, and lots of lounge chairs. It cost 1,800 shilling for us non-residents (aka aliens) for as long as you want and they are open until the park closes too, towel, beverages , food, floaties, lifeguards not included (last one is a joke but there aren't really any lifeguards not that the pool is deep enough and kid's below 12 are officially not allowed in that one yet they still went in anyway). It was very empty when I went at one point even having the entire pool for myself but the reception said on weekend the Nairobi crowds come and one can't even get a free chair! That also explains the massive amount of lodgings near the park.
TLDR; Northwest of the park is a must for the geology, plains and fauna preferably by bike - volcano hike is optional, hot springs highly recommended as a bonus.
Successor to "The African Great Rift Valley - Hells Gate National Park" (2010-2023)
2023 Added to Tentative List
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