To Hell’s Gate and back again

The journey to Hell was more beautiful than I imagined. After picking up bikes, we began the 2km trek to the entrance of Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha, Kenya. With the sand covered, uphill road full of potholes, hell is exactly what it felt like!

As my Lonely Planet guide says ‘there’s visiting national parks, and then there’s experiencing national parks-Hell’s Gate is an experience indeed!’ This park is unique in the fact that you can walk or bike through it on your own and be on the same level as the animals you find grazing there. It was surreal to find myself on a bicycle, pedaling through a Kenyan national park with herds of zebras walking along and giraffes munching on trees only metres away!

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A giraffe carries on eating as we bike by.

Upon entering, guests are welcomed by the 25m high Fischers Tower, which is often used by novice rock climbers.  With rocky cliffs jutting up all along the roads and acacia trees scattered about, the beauty of this park does not live up to it’s name.  Hell’s Gate was named after a narrow break in the cliffs, that was described as looking like the gates to hell. Somehow I have my doubts that hell is anywhere near as beautiful as this park.

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Fischer’s Tower greeted us and we began our journey into Hell’s Gate

After an exhausting 17km ride through difficult roads on a bike with no brakes, we arrived at Hell’s Gate Gorge. Apparently, on the 45 minute hike down through the gorge, you come across hot springs and caves, but since we stopped a thousand times to take pictures and struggled a bit with our bikes, we were out of time. So we just had to turn around and begin the 17km ride back.

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Biking past herds of zebras who barely acknowledged we were there.

Along the way, we saw gazelle, water buffalo, giraffes, warthogs and tons of zebra. It’s said that while lions aren’t common in this park, they do occasionally wander through. While we didn’t come across any lions, one member of the group did get a flat tire, which made the trip more adventurous in a different way!

As we were coming up to the last section of the trek, we came across 20-30 baboons sitting in the middle of the road. Since baboons can be vicious, we hesitated for a moment before two of us decided to make a break for it. Not looking straight at them and pedaling as fast as my poor bike would let me, I zoomed past them all as a few of the mothers dragged their screaming babies away from us.

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Beginning our bike ride into Hell’s Gate. At this point, I still had lots of energy!

We made it, we survived the trip to Hell’s Gate and back and what an incredible experience biking this park is.

Note to anyone thinking of going- Hell’s Gate National Park is located in the Lake Naivasha region of Kenya and entry costs around $25USD. Bike rentals can be found at the gate or at the corner 2km from the gate, both places charge 500KSH.  Give yourself a day to do this park, as there is lots to see and with the biking conditions you need all the time you can get!

Categories: Africa, Blog, Where in the World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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