​Expert Reviews – Hell's Gate NP

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Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Dry season

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

8 people found this review helpful.

Cycling between animals – an experience not to be missed
Overall rating

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, the park lacks dangerous animals and you are allowed to walk and cycle throughout. I found it amazingly exciting to cycle unguided through herds of zebra, giraffe and buffalo. You could even take a picnic along and you’ll feel like a character in ‘Out of Africa’.

Lizzie Williams   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: June

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

2 people found this review helpful.

An easy walking and birding safari in an impressive coloured gorge
Overall rating

Named for its pair of massive red-tinged cliffs, scenic Hell’s Gate lies next to Lake Naivasha. As there are no predators, you can explore on foot; I enjoyed the three-hour walk through the gorge which was lined with sheer cliffs patterned by striking and lustrous black and red volcanic sediments. There are numerous plains game in the park and I encountered cute little Thomson’s gazelle skipping through the grass and incredibly tame rock hyrax scrambling among the rocks. Additionally, it’s well-known for birds of prey and the likes of Verreaux’s eagle and Ruppell’s vulture can be seen hovering over the cliffs. It’s a great day excursion from a lakeside lodge but go early to best appreciate the magnificent colours in the rocks (and to avoid the heat).

Anthony Ham   –  
Australia AU
Visited: October-November

Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.

2 people found this review helpful.

Hell’s Gate: Canyons and Gorges
Overall rating

You certainly wouldn’t come to Hell’s Gate National Park, not far from the southern shore of Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley, for the wildlife. The occasional buffalo is the only member of the Big Five known to stray within park boundaries, and otherwise you’ll have to be content with zebra, eland and giraffe. But I like Hell’s Gate for the chance to experience a different slant on the Kenyan wild – this is one of the few parks in Kenya where free-range walking or cycling is permitted. That liberating chance to walk upon the carapace of this ancient continent is alone reason enough to visit. But the scenery here is also pretty special, with sheer, red cliffs and sudden volcanic plugs rising starkly from the main valley floor. And if you follow part of the Buffalo Circuit that climbs the hills in the park’s east, you’ll be rewarded by fine views of Mount Longonot, a shapely Rift Valley volcano nearby.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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