Hell's Gate National Park

Southern Rift Valley

Dry, dusty and dramatic but infinitely peaceful, Hell's Gate is that rare Kenyan park made for bicycles and exploring on foot. Large carnivores are very rare indeed, so you can cycle past grazing zebras and buffalo, spot rock hyraxes or klipspringers as they clamber up inclines and watch dust clouds swirl in the wind. In the early morning the park is all aglow with its rich ochre soils and savannah grasses squeezed between looming cliffs of rusty columnar basalt.

The hushing wind passing between the rock formations gives it an otherworldly feel. Outside of the midday heat, this park is a good place for quiet meditation, and there are lots of great picnic spots, too.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Rift Valley attractions

1. Hell’s Gate Gorge

1.09 MILES

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…

2. Obsidian Cave

2.77 MILES

Close to the Elsa Gate end of the Buffalo Circuit, a side track leads for 2km to the Obsidian Cave, where you’ll find moderately interesting examples of…

3. Lower Gorge

3.01 MILES

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…

4. Elsamere

4.46 MILES

Stippled with sisal, yellow fever trees and candelabra euphorbia, this is the former home of the late Joy Adamson of Born Free fame. She bought the house…

5. Lake Oloiden

6.32 MILES

Lake Naivasha may be a freshwater lake, but it is the alkaline waters of its near neighbour Lake Oloiden that draw small but impressive flocks of…

6. Crater Lake Game Sanctuary

8.24 MILES

Surrounding a beautiful volcanic crater lake fringed with acacias, this small sanctuary has many trails, including one for hikers along the steep but…

7. Crescent Island

8.47 MILES

This private island sanctuary can be reached by boat, or by driving across the narrow, swampy causeway from Sanctuary Farm. It's one of the few places in…

8. Longonot National Park

8.71 MILES

One of the shapeliest peaks in all the Rift Valley, Mt Longonot (2776m) and its serrated crater rim offer fabulous views. The dormant volcano rises 1000m…