|Distance from Nairobi||About 110km|
|Starting Point||Elsa Park Gate|
|Ending point||Elsa Park Gate|
|Walking Duration||3-6 hours|
|Terrain||Mostly sandy riverbed in Ol Njorowa gorge, with a few rocky spots.|
The Hell’s Gate National Park, situated 110km from Nairobi and on the edge of Lake Naivasha, is one of the most spectacular destinations on earth. Covering an area of about 68 square km, it is one of few game parks in Kenya where you can walk, run or cycle alongside Giraffe, Zebra, Gazelles and other wildlife. The breathtaking scenery inspired the filming of various Hollywood movies in this location over the years.
Besides game, the Hell’s Gate National Park features the Fischer’s Tower, a prominent volcanic plug standing 25m high over the surrounding flat valley floor. Seasoned rock climbing enthusiasts and beginners alike will often be spotted scaling their way up this imposing tower. The Park is framed by imposing cathedral like cliffs along the edges of the valley.
The jewel of Hell’s Gate however is Ol Njorowa Gorge, a 24km long deep ravine lined with sheer cliffs, and endowed with hot water springs feeding a stream that meanders down the floor of the gorge as it cuts its way through the rugged and semi-arid surrounding landscape. The Gorge widens out as it weaves its way down and out of the National Park. It is arguably one of the most beautiful places to go for a hike.
Cycling through this Park, as you take in the game and enjoy the surrounding scenery is another favorite pastime with visitors. This has been made possible by the availability of rental bikes from a number of businesses barely 5km from the Park along the shores of Lake Naivasha.
From Nairobi, take Naivasha matatus at Nyamakima Stage off River Road. From Naivasha town, get matatus headed to Lake Naivasha, and alight at the KWS signposted junction to Elsa Gate, Hell’s Gate National Park. From this junction, the Park Gate is a short 2km hike down the dirt road.
If driving, you can get there using one of two routes. The first and my personal favorite route is the lower escarpment road to Naivasha used by trucks, which passes the old Catholic Church built by Italian Prisoners of war during the second world war. This church is reputed to be the smallest church in Kenya. The road takes you past Mai Mahiu and Longonot towns before you turn left onto South Lake Road. Keep driving past a number of Horticultural farms till you get to the Elsa Gate junction where you turn left again. The second route is via the upper escarpment road to Nakuru. This road takes you past some great viewpoints on the escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley, Mt Longonot, and Lake Naivasha. You then turn left at the Naivasha turn off, drive through Naivasha town and onto the old Naivasha Road heading towards Nairobi, and turn right onto South Lake Road.
Here are the latest KWS Park entry fees for accessing Hell’s Gate National Park.
Rock Climbing Instructor
For those interested in rock climbing lessons on Fischer’s Tower, call Simon Kiarie, an experienced rock climbing instructor, on 0720909718 to make the necessary arrangements. He’s generally available at the Park, and has ample gear for large groups of climbers.