Why is it called Hell’s Gate, was our first question to Danielle when he announced that post lunch we’d go there for a drive, walk, whatever suited us. He smiled and told us, “Nothing to worry. We shall see why it is Hell’s Gate. But first, something for the stomachs.” And off he drove us to our hotel, Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort. Yes, we were famished after that drive from Nairobi (Read: Drive from Nairobi to Naivasha), the boat ride in Lake Naivasha and then the walk in the woods of the lake. We hurried to check-in, freshen up and head straight for lunch.
Food in our stomachs, we were ready to head out again and explore. Hell’s Gate National Park wasn’t too far away, and we would have reached after a 10-15 minute drive through the Naivasha town. Danielle was ready with his papers and passes so that we could go in immediately. And now he explained that Hell’s Gate got its name from the passage created by the steep walls of two very high cliffs in the national park. In prehistoric times, he said, a river flowed through this gap. The river has long since dried up. And the gap got christened as the Hell’s Gate.
A vast open area barring the cliffs, with dry grass (at that time of the year), we wanted to take a stroll. And Danielle allowed us to walk a distance of about a kilometer, keeping us in close range, as we explored the cliffs and the volcanic rocks. It was drizzling slightly…making the walk even more soothing. We saw tourists cycling away and realized that the park wasn’t dangerous. Later, Danielle told us that people even go hiking and camping at the park, and that it was just one of the two National Parks in Kenya where you are allowed to do so!
After about a kilometer, we climbed back into the jeep. Danielle had promised me a giraffe sighting here; for, I had still not seen a giraffe until then. Jayanta and our daughter had seen many at the Nairobi Giraffe Centre though, but they were looking forward to see them in the wild. And boy, did we see them to our heart’s fill!! Since Hell’s gate was sort-of our first wild-life safari, we went berserk taking pictures, pointing out the animals and hoping they’d come closer for better shots. We drove around to see the Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower, the natural hot springs and geysers and the plant site of the geothermal power station.
A drive around the Hell’s Gate National Park doesn’t take more than 90 minutes, and that too depends on your interest levels. We hung around for as long as we could, until the clouds gave way to heavy rain. That’s when we hurried back to our resort, for a cup of tea and some cookies.
It had been a great day — the boat ride, the walk, the safari – all a good precursor to the next in line. Masai Mara. 🙂