Hell’s Gate National Park is located near Lake Naivasha – about 120 km from Nairobi. The name is derived from the extensive geothermal activity in the region. The area contains a small park with a variety of animals including wild buffaloes, giraffes, wild boars etc. along with three geothermal power stations. The landscape is breathtaking and was also an inspiration for Lion King along with the famous Pride Rock (Link). The entry fee is 30 USD for NRI’s.
After our boat trip in Lake Naivasha (Read blog here), we traveled to the park which was about 20 minutes drive from the lake. At the entrance, you have the option of either walking, biking or using your own vehicle. We chose the later.
The trip through the park took about half hour. Although short, the views were breathtaking. Huge expanse of green fields and animals walking around with complete freedom.
We were lucky to see many giraffes, zebras, wild boars, deer etc. My personal favourite were the awesome wild buffaloes – one of the big five game (others being lion, elephant, leopard and rhino). They were grazing far away on the hill slope. Majestic beasts!
I even got to see Pumbaaaa, unfortunately no Timon!!
What to do at the park? Well, biking would be a better option. At the entrance, you can also go for rock climbing at the rock towers.
At the exit to the park, we were surprised to hear a loud noise and saw a white cloud of smoke. We initially thought it was smoke from an explosion. Instead, it turned out to be a geothermal vent located in the park. It was my first experience and the noise levels were crazy.
We stopped at the exit to the park and walked within the forests and did some rock climbing. It was free of charge and we had a guide to take us through. The forest was dense and we had to climb down steep rocks. One of the options was to walk through a natural tunnel which would take about an hour. As we were short of time, we had a quick look and returned back to the car.
Our final drive was through the geothermal plant and stop at an outdoor swimming pool heated by geothermal energy. The smell of sulphur was everywhere. I skipped the swimming part and went for a walk. The dark clouds were gathering and soon it started raining.
We finally reached our place of accommodation – Sopa Valley Resort. This was once in a lifetime opportunity. During the night, we had to walk with the guards from the rooms to the hotel as there were hippos roaming nearby. 🙂 Yep. Hippos! And in the morning, giraffes, zebras, monkeys etc. were walking along the green area near to our rooms. The rooms themselves were very spacious, well lit and the food was amazing.
As a parting thought, one of the striking images at the park was the following one and it reminded me of the movie ‘Blood Diamond’. In the final scene, Di Caprio – hurt and dying – looks up to the valley and says “I am exactly where I am supposed to be“. So does Karen Blixen in her book ‘Out of Africa’ – “I am where I ought to be”.
A truly wild experience!!
- It is fine to bargain. As a thumb rule, we went with 10% or around 1000 KSH (about 10 Euros) for guides helping us out during the trip. For others, usually 100 KSH.
- Taking a safari is recommended. The 2 day trip to Lake Navisaha (Blog) and Hell’s Gate including travel, food, guide, and accommodation cost us about 300 USD. Worth it!