Dry, dusty, and dramatic but infinitely peaceful, Hell’s Gate is that rare thing: an adventurous Kenyan park with large animals that are safe to explore by bicycle or on foot. Large carnivores are very rare, so you can cycle to your heart’s content past grazing zebras, giraffes, impalas, and buffaloes, spot rock hyraxes as they clamber up inclines and chase dust clouds as they swirl in the wind. And if the pedaling isn’t enough exercise, hike the gorge or climb Fischer’s Tower.
Cycling is our favorite way to explore the park, and the main Hell’s Gate Gorge is relatively flat; the distance from Elsa Gate to the Lower Gorge is around 7km. Bicycles are available at the park gates for a fee per day, or you can pay for bringing your own into the park.
Hell’s Gate Gorge
The gorge that runs through the heart of the park is a wide, deep valley hemmed in by sheer, rusty-hued rock walls. Marking its eastern entrance is Fischer’s Tower, a 25m-high volcanic column which can be climbed with a guide. The tower was named after Gustav Fischer, a German explorer who reached the gorge in 1882. Commissioned to find a route from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, Fischer was stopped by territorial Maasai, who slaughtered almost his entire party.
Rising from the main gorge’s southern end is the large Central Tower, an unusual volcanic plug. A picnic site and ranger’s post are close by, from where a walk descends into the Lower Gorge (Ol Njorowa). In some places the riverbed is dry; in others, you’ll find yourself scrambling down a steep and slippery descent. Some steps have been cut into the rock and some parts may be perilous. We recommend taking a guide.
Naiburta Public Campsite
Naiburta, sitting on a gentle rise on the northern side of the Hell’s Gate Gorge and Commanding fine views west past Fischer’s Tower, is the most scenic site in the area. It has basic toilets, an open banda for cooking, and freshwater taps.