The Park is striking as well, greeting visitors with dramatic gorges, great towers, looming cliffs and steaming columns of geothermal clouds escaping from the rocks. Hell’s Gate indeed!
But the park is actually quite tranquil and safe, very suitable for hiking, biking and family exploration.
Though there are populations of the larger hunters like lion, leopard and cheetah, their numbers are small and sightings rare, so you can walk or ride in peace, enjoying closeup views of eland, hartebeest, gazelle, antelope and over 130 species of birds.
The park is also a sanctuary for the rare bearded or lammergeyer vulture and Verreaux’s eagle. Plus, there are opportunities here to view these raptors up close.
Named for a great gash in its sheer red cliffs and its steamy geothermal billows, Hell’s Gate features three geothermal stations, the first in Africa. Lying beneath Hell’s Gate, the plants generate power from the constant energy flowing off the hot springs and geysers.
With its three campsites, camping is safe and encouraged as is bicycling and even motorcycling. There are also plenty of opportunities for climbers along the sandstone gorges and volcanic towers.
And being just a short drive from Nairobi, Hell’s Gate is an ideal day trip for hiking, game viewing, enjoying the hot springs and even visiting its health spa.
After a vigorous morning of hiking or biking you can take a lunch break here at a neighboring restaurant and enjoy the local Kenyan cuisine. And trips to nearby Crescent Island Preserve and Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru are easily arranged.
At only 68 sq. km (25 sq. mi) Hell’s Gate is a compact park. But there’s much to see in the arresting geographic features packed into this dramatic place of grassland, cliffs and gorges. The park rises 1,900 meters or 6,200 feet above sea level.
Hell’s Gate is 90 km or 55 miles northwest from the capital of Nairobi and just south of Lake Naivasha. It’s an easy day trip from Nairobi and close to several other national parks such as Naivasha and Lake Nakuru.
The park is known to be warm, dry and dusty.
Hell’s Gate is open for wildlife viewing throughout the year however the rainy season could impede your touring during the wet season months of March through May.
The park is open from 0600 hrs. to 1800 hrs. daily.
By road – you can book a tour with Natural World Kenya Safaris from the coast or Nairobi. From Nairobi, you’ll take the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. The drive affords fantastic views of the Rift Valley.
Hiking – The park is an ideal place to follow nature trails and get close to the plentiful grazing wildlife. With a ranger you can explore the park’s exotic gorges, cut into the rock over eons by the steady passing of water.
Not to be missed is Hell’s Gate Gorge, the inspiration behind “pride rock” from the Disney movie, “The Lion King”. The filmmakers came to the park to study this formation to be replicated in their film.
Mountain biking – Cycling is a great and unique way to view the antelope, zebra and other foraging animals. Take the “buffalo circuit” for views of giraffe and the nearby Longonot volcano.
Climbing – Fisher’s Tower and Central Tower are extinct volcanos with perfect rock walls for climbing. You’ll need a guide but they’re easy and rewarding climbs.
Mervyn Carnelley Raptor Hide – This is a camouflaged viewing platform with a one-way window to view the many raptors in the park.
Ol Karia Geothermal Spa – The largest natural spa on the continent, it has been described as an “endless bathtub”. The spa features very warm, all-natural mineral water brought in as steam and allowed to cool. Relaxing and healthful after a day of hiking and biking.