Perhaps you stay indoors for lack of an outdoor plan. Maybe you do not have any idea what you can do in a less than 2 hours’ drive from Nairobi. Maybe you do not know that you can revisit an attraction again and again and still have fun. Maybe you are scared of boredom and logistics. Well, the answer is simple; get out and travel!
I recently went back to Hell's Gate National Park courtesy of the Kenya Tourism Board.
This was my 5th time in this park. My spirit was low and I didn't have much expectations. I had convinced myself that there was nothing new to see. However, I had failed to realize one thing; that I was going with a totally different group. When you go to a destination several times with different groups, experiences are different each time. You will never get enough. It’s like back in college when we used to eat ugali every day. We learnt that the secret was to change the accompaniment each time. The other times I had been to Hell's Gate all about having fun: Jumping for that epic picture, lying flat on the tarmac for that creative shot, mingle mingle, competing on physical strength, etc. was the order of the day.
This time round, I had an energetic team. A vibrant crowd that was interested in details and ready to learn. This was different.
We secured a Kenya Wildlife Service guide who briefed us about the park. He accompanied us for the entire trip. Before you get in at Hell's Gate, there are bicycles. If biking is your thing, this is a great chance to show what you got. We arrived a little late and therefore we did not have enough time to cycle. We only enjoyed a few rounds close to the gate before our team leader finished the check in formalities.
After a 5 minutes’ drive, the scenery started to get intense and exciting. The first sight was the volcanic plugs - The Fischer's Tower and Central Tower columns.
It is at Fischer's towers where people go to do rock climbing. The scenery here was amazing. We left and headed to one of the campsites. The guide confirmed that the park had only 3 campsites. One with basic amenities such as toilet, bonfire and a cooking set up, and another one with nothing which is only prepared when there are guests. We arrived at the campsite and the view was nothing short of amazing.
It is situated on a raised platform that offers enthralling views of the park. Camping here is as low as KSh. 200 per person. You are only required to come with your gear. It is not fenced and according to the guide, the area is frequented by a resident leopard. Interested, right?
After enjoying the views, we drove through the park towards the gorge. We spotted a good number of animals such as giraffes, buffaloes, elands, gazelles, zebras, warthogs, hartebeast and baboons among others. The park is also flocked with number of birds species including vultures, Verreaux's eagle, augur buzzard, and swifts.
We got to the gorge that runs through the heart of the park. It is a wide, deep valley hemmed in by sheer, rusty-hued rock walls
A walk through the gorge will take an average person 2 hours to complete it. It is characterized by slippery ground, uneven walk ways, the devil’s bedroom, hell’s shower and natural springs. We only managed to walk half way the gorge because time was not on our side.
From here, we proceeded to the KenGen Geothermal Spa which is one of its kind in Africa. It is managed by Kenya Wildlife Service. It provides the ultimate destination for revelers, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The breath-taking scenery creates a memorable experience that will make anyone want to come back. A swim at this pool is very refreshing and relaxing. Evening got us here and we left for an overnight in Nakuru.
Hell's Gate National Park is a rich destination. It doesn't matter how many times you have been there. You will enjoy it anyway. Next time you go there for a visit, be sure to have a guide with you, they make the visit worthwhile. Approach the wildlife calmly and you will have the best shots. Make sure you are dressed well for the gorge walk and the scorching sun. Most importantly, carry a swimming costume for the spa treatment.
See you at Hell's Gate!
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Eliud Ndungu, a part-time adventure travel blogger who’s been exploring his motherland-Kenya for over 4 years