Overview – Hell's Gate NP
This small park near Lake Naivasha isn’t on many safari itineraries. It contains a nice variety of plains animals, but it lacks most of the flagship species. The appeal lies more in the scenery with impressive sandstone cliffs and volcanic outcrops. Rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking are some of the activities available. It’s one of the few parks in Kenya where you can easily walk among herds of plains animals.
Pros and Cons
- Great day trip from Lake Naivasha
- Stunning volcanic scenery
- Unguided walking and cycling permitted
- Inexpensive accommodation in nearby Naivasha
- The park is very under-utilized and never gets busy
- Many major safari animals are absent
- There is only a small game-drive circuit
Hell’s Gate is not a big wildlife safari destination. Of the Big Five, only buffalo are seen, while leopard are around but seldom encountered. Giraffe, zebra, eland, hartebeest and Thomson's gazelle are common. Olive baboons are often seen perched on the cliffs while a good spotter might pick up a pair of klipspringers. Less common is the Chanler's mountain reedbuck, which can be found grazing on the grassy slopes.
The main attraction of Hell’s Gate NP is its dramatic scenery. The name refers to the steep-sided valley running through the park. The volcanic landscape is dominated by dormant volcanos and several ancient lava plugs sticking out from the valley floor.
Weather & Climate
The climate at Hell’s Gate is similar to other places near the equator in that temperatures are fairly consistent year-round. What makes it unusual is its altitude, which is high enough to lend a distinct coolness to the air, particularly at night. The Dry season (June to October) sees plenty of blue-sky days, while the Wet season (November to May) trades the sunshine for afternoon showers.
Best Time to Visit
Except for the Christmas season, Hell’s Gate gets relatively few visitors, so you don’t have to factor that into the timing of your visit. The Dry season (June to October) is the best time to go wildlife watching, as the animals are easier to observe in the thinned-out bush. The wetter months, on the other hand, reward you with nesting birds of prey, and the vegetation is in full bloom.
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Hells-Gate Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Cycling between animals – an experience not to be missed
This scenic little park with its impressive cliffs makes for a nice daytrip from Naivasha. Although there are plenty of herbivores around, it doesn’t really compete with some of the more popular parks in Kenya. Aside from some buffalo,...
Latest User Review
A surreal day of hiking and wildlife
Though my stay in Hell's Gate National Park was short (1 day) it has remained vivid in my memory. Our group opted in to take a hike through the gorge at the park, and after an entertaining lunch (provided by our hotel) trying to keep the...