Hells Gate National Park
It is 68 sq. km it lies 90km from Nairobi. Hell’s Gate National Park lies south of lake Nakuru in Kenya, north west of Nairobi. Hell’s Gate, given by the explorers Fisher and Thomson (1883) after their defeat against the hostile Maasai warriors, the park is a peaceful area where you can walk or do biking alongside towering cliffs and wild animals. It is known for its wildlife and for its scenery, including the Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower columns and Hell’s Gate Gorge. The national park is also home to a geothermal power station at Olkaria.
The park provides a variety of wildlife, unusual flora and many species of birds and is one of the two only kenyan parks where climbing, walking and biking are allowed. Covered by ashes from the Longonot eruption which occured 100 years ago, the park is famous for its geothermal station, Lower Gorge and spectacular sceneries (cliffs, volcanoes, gorges, geothermal steam).
Also, the park has very good and well equipped camping sites and there is a large choice of accommodation around Naivasha lake which is popular for watersports, bird and game viewing in private ranches and walks at Crescent Island, Crater Lake and Mt Longonot
Few meters after the Elsa Gate, there is a spectacular view over the main cliff with Fisher Tower in the foreground. At the tower, you can turn left to go to the Central Tower through the Buffalo Circuit which is a two hours circuit offering magnificient view over the Kedong valley, the Naivasha lake and Longonot and Suswa volcanoes, and down to the gorges and their waterholes, waterfalls. Doing the Twiga Circuit (also on your left) and going to the Central Tower by the main road is a shorter alternative.
At the Central Tower point, your excursion just starts as there is possibility to walk into the Ol Njorowa gorge (24 km) or continue driving towards the Ol Karia gate to visit the Ol Karia geothermal power station
FISCHER TOWER: This 25 meters (75 ft) high rocky tower formed by semi-molten rock forced to a fissure, cooling and solidifying as it extruded is located near the main entrance of the park. Both the Fischer’s tower and the Central tower were formed the same way at the same time. The German explorer, Gustav Fischer, who was sent by the Hamburg Geographical Society to find a route going from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, gave his name to this high volcanic plug rising out of the valley. For Maasai community, the tower is a Maasai girl which has be turned to stone after disobeying the family before her wedding. Around the base and scuttling among the rocks are dassies (or rock hyrax), quite unperturbed by visitors. Picnic site available. For climbers, climbing the tower is great fun.
OBSIDIAN CAVES: The Obsidian caves – and its distinctive black glass-like obsidian rock – are located on the Buffalo Circuit and have a track that take you to a lookout over the near Fisher Tower and Kedong plains around the Mt Longonot. Picnic site available. Obsidian is the result of rapid cooling of molten volcanic lava coming in contact with water while being poured into a lake or ocean. This resulting to the glassy texture of the rock. Iron and magnesium give the obsidian a dark green to black color. Obsidian can contain small air bubbles that are aligned along layers. These bubbles can produce interesting effects such as a golden sheen, known as Sheen Obsidian or a rainbow sheen called Rainbow Obsidian. Small nuggets of obsidian that have been naturally rounded and smoothed by wind and water are called Apache Tears.
CENTRAL TOWER: Also called “Embarta" (The Horse), this rocky tower is much larger than its predecessor the Fischer’s Tower. The Central tower is hardly seen along the road, it can be viewed from very far along the Buffalo Circuit.
Scenic landscape (lookouts, rocky towers).
Unique bird viewing and nesting in cliffs.
Spectacular excursion of the gorges and cliffs.
Geothermal Power Station.
Hot springs, steam jets, waterfalls and hot springs.
Traditional Maasai culture.
Splendid views on the Longonot and Suswa volcanoes and Lake Naivasha.
Possibility to go for walk, bike, horse riding and hiking in the park.
Visit of the Lake Naivasha region.
List of Animals Which Can Be Seen In The Park
Antelopes and gazelles (per alphabetic order) : Bushbuck – Dik-dik (Kirk’s) – Duiker (Common) – Gazelle (Grant’s) – Gazelle (Thomson’s) – Gnu (White-bearded) – Hartebeest (Coke’s) – Impala – Klipspringer – Reedbuck (Bohor) – Reedbuck (Chanler’s mountain) – Steinbok – Waterbuck (Defassa) – Other ungulates and mammals : Buffalo (Cape) – Giraffe (Maasai) – Hyrax (Bruce’s) – Hyrax (Eastern Tree) – Hyrax (Rock) – Hyrax (Southern Tree) – Zebra (Common) – Carnivores : Aardwolf – Civet (African) – Fox (Bat-eared) – Genet (Large-spotted) – Genet (Small-spotted) – Hyena (Spotted) – Jackal (Black-backed) – Jackal (Common) – Mongoose (Marsh) – Mongoose (White-tailed) – Otter (Clawless) – Serval – Zorilla – Primates : Baboon (Savannah) – Monkey (Green Vervet) – Others (rabbits, hares, insectivores) : Hare (Cape) – Hare (Spring) – Porcupine (Crested)
Vegetation: The vegetation is mainly grasslands and shrublands dominated by several species of Acacia and Euphorbia. There are also a wide variety of succulents in the area and some unique plants capable of withstanding high temperatures.
Birds: Maasai Ostrich – Secretary Bird – Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture – Peregrine Falcons – Verraux Eagle – Steppe Buzzard – Bateleur – Lammergeyer – Oxpeckers – Augur Buzzard – Hildebrandt Francolin – Guinea Fowl – Speckled Pigeon – Laughing Dove – Bee Eater – Hoopoe – Mottled Swifts – Sunbirds – Rufous-naped Lark – Richard Pipit – Black Marked Babbler – Anteater Chat – Cisticolas – Fiscal Shrike – Wattled Starling – Blue-eared Starling – Red-winged Starling – Superb Starling – Rufous Sparrow – Speke WeaverSchalow Wheatear – Isabelline Wheatear – Yellow Bishop – Purple Grenadier – Yellow-rumped Seedeater, etc…