Hell’s Gate National Park is a park located south of Lake Naivasha in the Nakuru County, 90 km from Nairobi, Kenya. The 68.25 km2 Park, established in 1984, was named after a narrow split in the cliffs, once a branch of an ancient lake that supplied water for early humans in the Rift Valley.
Hell’s Gate National Park, standing at 1 900 m above sea level is recognized for its landmarks which include the Hell’s Gate Gorge, lined with red cliffs that hold two volcanic plugs, the Fischer’s Tower, at 25 m high and Central Tower columns, two extinct volcanoes, Olkaria and Hobley’s, granitic glass forms created from the cool molten lava, smaller water-gouged gorges, hot springs as well as three geothermal power stations at Olkaria.
The Park holds a wide range of wildlife though many are small in numbers. The rarely seen animals include the Leopard, Lion and Cheetah whilst the common animals include the African Buffalo, the Zebra, Eland, Hyrax, Thomson’s Gazelle, the Hartebeest, the Baboon and the Hyena. The Chanler’s Mountain Reedbuck, the Serval and the Klipspringer Antelope are seen around the Park in small numbers.
103 species of birds have been recorded in the Park and among those recorded are the rare Lammergeyer Vulture, the Swift, the Augur Buzzard as well as the Verreaux’s Eagle.
Hell’s Gate National Park can be accessed by road from Nairobi driving the whole 90 km for two to three hours. One can also opt for public transport, taking a bus from Nairobi to Naivasha town then changing onto a local bus that goes around the Lake. From there one is dropped at the Park entrance or one’s lodgings if they are on the Lake or in the Park.
There are a lot of lodges and campsites around Lake Naivasha where you can stay that offer both budget and luxury accommodation. Fisherman’s Camp is the one closest to the Park, lying under a beautiful canopy of Acacia trees on the shores of Lake Naivasha. On offer from the Fisherman’s Bar is a wide variety of menus, from the traditional ugali, to hearty western dishes enjoyed whilst spotting game on the Lake shoreline.
There is also the Sarandy Holiday Home Naivasha set on the beachfront just 14 km from Hell’s Gate National Park. The holiday home offers 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a television set with satellite channels, a dining area, a kitchen and a patio with views of the Lake.
Other accommodation options include the Naivasha Kongoni Lodge also situated in Naivasha, 3.8 km from Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, Burch’s Resort Naivasha, set 1.7 km from Crescent Island Game Park and offering a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar, a shared lounge and barbecue facilities as well as the Kiboko Luxury Camp, the Firebird Inn and the El Sueno Homestay.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Hell’s Gate National Park is in the dry period from June to March where driving is easier, vegetation is thinner and grass is shorter for easier game spotting. The wet months of April and May make driving harder but afford fresh and stunning views with vegetation lush and animals breeding.
Weather and Climate
Hell’s Gate experiences Naivasha’s tropical savannah climate with one long and one short rainy period and Because of the altitude, temperatures in the Park are usually slightly lower with cooler nights.
Other Safety Considerations
Malaria is a big risk in Kenya and visitors to the Park are urged to take the necessary precautions to stay safe. These include covering up at night, using mosquito repellent cream or spray as well as taking malaria prophylactics.