Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s gate national park is one of the smallest national parks in Kenya covering a total land area of 68.25 square. Found at the neighborhood of Lake Naivasha national park is Hell’s gate national park. The park is located on the best tourism circle of Kenya that includes Naivasha, Nakuru, Hell’s gate national park and others on the same highway from Nairobi to Nakuru. Its 90 kilometer’s away from Nairobi then 14 kilometers after leaving Nairobi –Naivasha road. The park is a home of more plain animals like zebras, giraffes, buffalo, kobs, antelopes and others not forgetting the baboons and Monkeys at the park.
The park was established in 1984, it was named after the narrow break in the cliffs at the park which was once a tributary of the prehistoric lake that contributed much to human leaving at the area. Hell’s gate national park is gifted by nature with great scenery and a wide range of wildlife. Its made up of two towers namely the Central tower and the Fischer’s tower which adds to form the Hell’s Gate Gorge. The cliffs were named after the first European explorers that visited the park and hiked the cliffs, these Europeans were Fisher and Thomson who visited the park in 1880.
The Hell’s gate national park has two main entry gates which include the Olkaria gate and Elsa gate which is the main gate. The park has diversified vegetation types that range from the swampy to rocky. This is caused by the topography terrain of the park which is characterized by rocky angulating topography. The basic attraction at the park is African’s largest and oldest Geothermal station which is found at the park.
Attractions in Hell’s Gate National Park
The park has more scenic attractions that attract and give guests true African wilderness experience. One can use sport bicycles to do the safari, walk or use the safari vans. The key attractions at the park include:
Wildlife: The park has mainly plain animals with rarely viewed cats though they are available. The population of the grazers affects mostly the availability of the predators. The most common animals are Zebras, giraffes, gazelle, baboons, buffalo, Elephants, Impala among others. There is also some bird species which are around 103 bird species which include buzzards, vultures, eagles, Lammergeyers and others. In reality Hell’s gate national park is not African big 5 destinations neither is it the best birding destination but can be added to your one-day Safari to Lake Naivasha.
Scenery: The scenic beauty of the rough volcanic features attracts more and more tourists to the park. Scenic views of the rocky parts and gorges of the park are the key attractions at the park. This is where the park got its name Hell’s gate national park to these beautiful towers at the park. The cliffs like Fischer’s tower, the central tower and others give guest good aerial viewing point of the park.
Hot springs: There are many hot springs found inside the park, they produce hot vapor with water. These were formed due to the effect of vulcanicity like all other Great rift valley parks which contained some features of the Volcanic activity. Tourists especially researchers always come here for their research on the effects of volcanicity in the area.
Geothermal station: Olkaria 1 Geothermal station found in Hell’s gate national park is the oldest and the largest geothermal station not only in Kenya but entire Africa. The PowerPoint produces over 185 megawatts of Electricity which is supplied across the Nakuru region. There are several other small geothermal stations also found at the park like Olkaria 11 and Olkaria 111. Most tourists come to see how the actions and powers of volcanic activity lead to the formation of electricity. The Nakuru region is blessed with this as there are over 5 geothermal power stations in the region and among the 6, 4 are currently functioning while other remaining 2 are almost complete.
Activities in Hell’s Gate National Park
Game viewing: Though Hell’s gate national park is among the smallest park in Kenya but it is a home of a wide range of wildlife. Its vegetation cover favours tourist to have rewarding game drives at all times of the year. Its only at this park that guests can do game drives on bicycle and enjoy close view of the wildlife without even an armed game ranger. The park is dominated by the grazers especially plain animals like giraffes, zebras, buffalo, eland, Antelopes, wildebeest and others. The only weakness of the park is that one cannot enjoy the African big 5. One can do both morning, evening or full day game drives using safari van or walk or use mountain bikes which are hired from the main gate.
Bird watching: The park is not an excellent place for birding safaris but this will not hinder one to enjoy the greatest birding experience at the park. Habiting over 100 bird species the park is famous of the birds of prey like Vultures, buzzards, eagles and others not forgetting the Lammergeyers which breed in the park. The birding is best done during the rainy months of the year when they are nesting. The key species are mourning doves, African Kestrel, ostriches, sunbird and others.
Rock climbing: The rough edges of the cliffs are enjoyable with no need of experience in hiking. The bare rocks in Hell’s gate national park attract guests who wish to reach and experience the towers which early explorers visited during their time in Africa. The bare rocks were formed as a result of volcanic activity where melted rock liquid solidified after cooling. The hike is guided by the rangers at the park, one can also enjoy the caves and gorges at the park.
Cycling: Hell’s gate national park is the only park in Kenya where one enjoys game drives in a bicycle. The game drives are part of exercise which makes the trip more practical and enjoyable since the guest involve themselves. One can start from the main gate where the mountain bikes are hired cycle up and come close to animals as you go closer to the rocks then continue to the Geothermal stations depending on the guest physical ability.
Nature walks: The guided nature walks are led by the ranger guide who will help you spot and identify the wildlife. This activity is good for birders where you will have enough time to view the birds and other game. See animals closely in their natural habitats, the most animals are giraffes, kobs and others.
Despite the fact that Hell’s gate national park is one of the smallest parks in Kenya, the park is rich with wildlife and other key attractions. One cannot do a full day trip to the park but can make a unique itinerary package with Lake Naivasha national park.