Geography lesson in Hell's Gate National Park
Let’s go back in time for a moment: how does such a unique landscape as Hell’s Gate National Park, full of wildlife, come into existence? The strangely shaped rock formations and steep cliffs owe their looks to past volcanic activity and even a volcanic eruption. These days, there are still volcanic activities under the earth’s surface, but fortunately you won’t notice any of that as you cycle through the park at your leisure.
Cycling past Zebras, Giraffes and Antelopes
Yes, yes, yes! This rocks so hard!!! We go on an adventure in the only game park where you are allowed to cycle in East Africa: Hells Gate National Park! Think zebras running with you for a bit and a dozen pumbas happily raising their tails as they move. How special is it to cycle past a giraffe just eating its lunch from the tree and spot a herd of wildebeest, buffalo or baboons on the other side of the road? For seven kilometres you cycle through the valley on which that one scene from the Lion King is based, where Mufasa is trampled underfoot by a herd of agitated wildebeest. Meanwhile, you swap the dark red rock parties and savannah area for a deep canyon created by ancient lava rivers. Here your hike begins, taking you past several hot springs before you scramble back up and start your way back.
After a bike ride or self-drive through the valley, you will arrive at the famous gorge: Hell’s Gate. This gorge was created by two extinct volcanoes and associated lava rivers. You can parade through this. If you are looking for more of a challenge, you could climb the standalone rock wall in Hell’s Gate Valley.
Hell's Gate National Park Combined
Hell’s Gate National Park can be combined well with a visit to Lake Naivasha and is only a two-hour drive from Nairobi. Lake Naivasha is ideal for a boat safari where you are sure to spot quite a few fat hippos. Another active option in the area is climbing Mount Longonot. You can hike up this volcano in about two hours. Once you arrive at the crater rim, if you have some energy left and have wiped your sweaty moustache dry, you can hike around the crater. From the summit, you look out over the magical Great-Rift-Valley landscape and nearby Lake Naivasha.
From camping next to the Monkeys to comfortable rooms
Somewhere halfway down the dusty but paved road towards Lake Naivasha, there is Camp Carnelly, by now the most famous location in the entire area. It is somewhat hidden behind large cacti and other greenery, but once you have turned off the side road, the camp is in front of you.
Think fresh, fun, clean, spacious and colourful. An African vibe with a Western touch in terms of requirements. The luxurious couple bandas are spread across the grounds so you really feel like you have your own place in the middle of nowhere. A decent double bed, a clean bathroom and a mosquito net that protects. For backpackers, there is a dorm surrounded by green ferns and tall trees. Finally, there is a large camping train next to the water where everyone can always pitch their tents. Monkeys meander between the trees here and every now and then a big roaring hippo swims past in front of you.
The best Feta Cheese Samosas and Pizzas
Time to relax! Sink into the colourful cushions, chill with a book while enjoying your food; this is exactly what the Lazybones restaurant & bar is good for. The time of day doesn’t matter, at any time of day someone is sitting here relaxing, nibbling on the best pizza in Kenya. Local expats can regularly be found here for a Tusker after work or for a nice feast on the weekend. The rest of the seats are taken up by guests who don’t want to leave here. Everything on the menu sounds delicious and making a choice difficult.
Tip: go for the feta cheese-coriander samosas as a snack. Delicuous and ultimate!
Hippo spotting on the lake
Spotting a hippo five metres away? Piece of cake. In a rickety little boat, you go in search with a local guide, although you often only have to listen to the noisy and gaping animals to locate them. Occasionally, they are too shy to look straight at you and you’ll see their cocky ears poking out above the water. Spot the low-flying pelicans trying to snatch a fish out of the water. There are lots of different bird here so; bird lovers, eat your heart out! Don’t forget to keep an eye on the banks too, from giraffes to waterbucks to buffaloes hang out here!