Hell’s Gate Gorge

Southern Rift Valley

Fisher's tower, Hell's Gate National Park

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

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.

All through this valley you’ll come across zebras, the occasional giraffe, warthogs and various antelope species, while birds of prey circle overhead. Sadly, extensive geothermal excavation is now taking place close to the gorge, prompting complaints from visitors and concerns for the health of some animals. The road towards the gorge is now tarmacked, and you may spot industrial pipes.