Hell’s Gate Overview

Hell’s Gate National Park, established in 1984, is a unique and captivating conservation area located in the southern part of Kenya, near Lake Naivasha, about 90 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. The park covers an area of approximately 68.25 square kilometers (about 26 square miles) and is known for its distinctive geothermal activity, spectacular landscapes, and diverse wildlife. Unlike many other national parks in Africa, Hell’s Gate offers visitors the rare opportunity to explore on foot or by bicycle, providing a more intimate encounter with the wild.

Named for its intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, Hell’s Gate features towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub-clad volcanoes, and belching plumes of geothermal steam, making it one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa. Its dramatic scenery has inspired the backgrounds of various Hollywood films, including “The Lion King” and “Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life.”

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including herds of buffalo, zebras, giraffes, elands, and hartebeests. Predators are rare, which allows for safe walking safaris. Hell’s Gate is also an important breeding site for the critically endangered Lammergeyer vultures, among over 100 other bird species that inhabit the park.

One of the park’s most famous attractions is the Fisher’s Tower, a 25-meter high volcanic plug, and the gorge walks through the narrow canyons carved by ancient rivers. Visitors can also enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, and hot springs. The Olkaria Geothermal Station, the first of its kind in Africa, is located within the park, showcasing the potential of renewable energy sources.

Hell’s Gate National Park is not only significant for its geological interest and recreational activities but also for its role in conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable tourism practices. Its accessibility from Nairobi makes it a popular day trip for those looking to experience Kenya’s natural beauty and adventure without venturing too far from the capital.

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Park Map
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Hell’s Gate National Park Pictures

Hell’s Gate National Park Trails

Fischer's Tower Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 miles (3.2 km) with minimal elevation gain

Description: Fischer’s Tower Trail offers a leisurely stroll through the unique landscapes of Hell’s Gate National Park. Hikers will marvel at the towering column of volcanic rock known as Fischer’s Tower, formed by ancient volcanic activity.

The trail meanders through scenic canyons and scrubland, offering opportunities for birdwatching and photography amidst the park’s dramatic scenery.

Hell's Gate Gorge Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles (8 km) with an elevation gain of 656 feet (200 meters)

Description: Hell’s Gate Gorge Trail takes hikers on a captivating journey through the park’s iconic gorge, carved by centuries of erosion.

Trek along rocky paths, passing by hot springs and geothermal vents emitting steam into the air.

Marvel at the towering cliffs and rock formations that line the gorge while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding plains.

Ol Njorowa Gorge Loop Trail

Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8 miles (12.9 km) with an elevation gain of 984 feet (300 meters)

Description: The Ol Njorowa Gorge Loop Trail offers a challenging hike through the rugged terrain of Hell’s Gate National Park.

Hikers will traverse rocky slopes and narrow pathways, descending into the depths of the gorge. Encounter unique rock formations and ancient lava flows while exploring the park’s geological wonders.

This moderate to difficult hike provides a thrilling adventure amidst the park’s dramatic landscapes.

Central Tower Summit Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 6 miles (9.7 km) with an elevation gain of 1,312 feet (400 meters)

Description: The Central Tower Summit Trail is a challenging ascent to the summit of Central Tower, offering panoramic views of Hell’s Gate National Park and beyond.

Ascend steep slopes and rocky ridgelines, passing through rugged terrain and sparse vegetation. Enjoy breathtaking vistas of the surrounding plains and distant mountains while experiencing the thrill of reaching the summit.

Fischer's Tower to Devil's Bedroom Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles (6.4 km) with an elevation gain of 656 feet (200 meters)

Description: The Fischer’s Tower to Devil’s Bedroom Trail combines scenic views with unique geological features.

Hikers will pass by Fischer’s Tower before continuing to the Devil’s Bedroom, a cave-like formation within the park. Explore the rugged landscapes and ancient lava flows while encountering wildlife such as zebras and giraffes.

This moderate hike offers a memorable adventure through Hell’s Gate National Park’s captivating terrain.

  • Kenya Wildlife Service, Hells Gate National Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Lonely Planet, Hell’s Gate National park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Magical Kenya, Hell’s Gate National Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • Shadows of Africa, Hells Gate National Park,, retrieved March 2024.
  • UNESCO, The Africa Great Rift Valley – Gate National Park,, retrieved March 2024.