Once upon a time the Devil came to Earth thruogh a break in a rock. This fairy tale could also be the story of Hell’s Gate National Park, in Lake Naivasha region, Kenya. The “gate” of this name, in fact, is a narrow crack in the rocky hill that overlooks the lake. Probably from that crack came out a prehistorical river – now disappeared – that filled up the lake. That empty cave looks like a dark place where no one will ever go and if anyone lived in there, it could only be a evil spirit! So far the legend. History, instead, tells us that this land was discovered by European travelers back in the 19th century. It became a National Park only in 1984.
About Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is a “small” reserve – compared to the average African natural parks – covering 68,25 sq km, 90 km away from Nairobi. It spreads all around Lake Naivasha and at the foot of Mt Longonot, a stratovolcano mountain still active, sometimes. Though most part of the Park is green and a good habitat for plants and animals, there are many volcanic phenomena here and there. Two old craters rise in the middle of its territory. Between them you find very hot springs. Their water could even burn the human skin.
Wildlife of the Park
What kind of animals live at Hell’s Gate National Park? Most part of the local wildlife consists in birds and small mammals. There are also typical African animals like lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffalos, zebras, antelopes but they do not usually cross the Park’s territory. This is also why Hell’s Gate is considered one of the safest places for safaris. Eagles, agur buzzards, vultures and especially the beautiful Lammergeyer vultures are the most interesting animals of the Park. You might also see gazelles and hyenas.
What to do at Hell’s Gate
Tourism at Hell’s Gate is a successful industry. Here you can explore and enjoy the nature in full safety. Guides will always be by your side, but you are allowed to even camp inside the Park, not far from the wild animals’ environments. There are four tourist structures inside the territory of the park: three campings and one lodge. You can go safari, or practice birdwatching – especially on birds of prey.
You can go on boat trip on the lake or hike to the volcanic craters. Or you might like to visit the Olkaria Centre, the first geothermal power station in Africa, a great example of “green energy”. Local guides will lead you to visit the places that inspired the scenes of cartoon Lion King and of videogame Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Tourists are allowed to meet the Masaai People, after spending a few hours at the Masaai Centre, learning about their culture.
How to get there
You can get to Hell’s Gate by airplane, landing at the local air strip. But since this region is only 90 km away from Nairobi, the cheapest and fastest way to get there is by local motorway connecting the capital city to Lake Naivasha. At the junction, 5 km away from Naivasha Town, you will find the directions to the Park.