A Guide To Animals In Rocky Mountain National Park Entering Hell’s Gate

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Entering Hell’s Gate

So I’m on a bike and there’s an angry mosquito not far away. This is Hell’s Gate National Park, famous in Kenya for its very wild environment (which obviously does not count angry buffaloes), and therefore provides a unique opportunity to cycle or walk among wild animals. Often on safari, you find yourself either on a game drive or driving to the next park – either way, you tend to spend a lot of time in a vehicle. Hell’s Gate will give you the opportunity to stretch your legs and in this article you are going to find everything you need to plan your experience.

Hell’s Gate National Park is located in the South Rift Region near the town of Naivasha, 90km from Nairobi. Dubbed “Walk on the Wild Side” by the Kenya Wildlife Service, the park is 68km² of savannah where you can cycle and walk among the animals.

Experience the park

This week, Francis and I took two of his children for a ride through the park. We saw zebras, elands, gazelles (both Thomson’s and Grant’s), monkeys, wildebeest, warthogs and giraffes. It’s a lot of fun for the kids – even though their dad is a safari guide, they don’t have much of a chance to go on safari themselves. Matthew has inherited his father’s keen eyesight and, with the energy of an eight-year-old, moves forward to report the mosquitoes and warthogs we want to see. Leopards and hyenas also live in the park, but they are not noticed.

The most common route is eight kilometers from the Elsa entrance to the Ol Njorowa Gorge. At Elsa’s Gate, the main entry point for Hell’s Gate, bicycles are available for hire. There are other places to hire bicycles from local guides, which is perfect if you also want to take a guide into the park. Don’t expect high-end bikes, but the brakes work, the wheels go around and, for the most part, we can change the gears (but the park is pretty flat so you can get it without a lot of gears) .

About a kilometer from the gate is Fischer’s Tower, where the rock climbing equipment is set up. Hell’s Gate is more famous for its geological formations than its animals, and Fischer’s Tower is a rocky pin that pokes up from the ground in the middle of otherwise flat land. The tower is only 25m high, so it is very manageable to scale.

Ol Njorowa Gorge is the highlight of the park. Guides are stationed at the entrance to the gorge where there is also a picnic area and car park. There are two tours to choose from – the shorter tour takes 45 minutes to an hour and the longer one takes two to three hours. On the long walk you will see where Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie photographed.

5.5km further (and only 500m from Ol Karia gate) is Geo Spa. The Gate of Hell is named for the smoke coming out of the rock that creates a picture of what a gate to hell might look like. The entire Rift Valley was created by volcanic activity and many of the mountains throughout the valley are extinct volcanoes. There are also many geo-thermal activities in the area, including the most active Hell’s Gate (Mt Suswa also has steam coming from the ground, which the local Maasai tap to get water). The Kenyan government is working with foreign experts to create a geo-thermal plant that will eventually supply 40% of Kenya’s electricity. The spa is where you can get close to the geo-thermal activity and bathe in the hot springs.

If you feel you need more than one day to enjoy all these activities, there are two campsites in the park. Facilities are basic, but when you’re camping in a national park in Kenya, that’s enough fun to beat not having a hot tub. The Ol Dubai Campsite sits on a ledge overlooking the grazing animals and Fischer’s Tower.

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