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Go on adventure through winding gorge at Hell’s Gate

Sunday August 14 2016

Visitors tour a gorge at Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on March 25, 2015. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Visitors tour a gorge at Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on March 25, 2015. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOHN GACHIGI
By JOHN GACHIGI
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To the north of Nairobi, along the road to Uganda, lies a group of lakes set in the Great Rift Valley.

Lake Naivasha, Lake Elemeitaita and Lake Nakuru are the remains of one great lake that spread through the basins, spilling out at its southern end through Ol-Njorowa Gorge-Hell’s Gate.

On entering the park through Elsa Gate, the visitors are faced with a high volcanic plug rising out of the valley floor. This is Fischer’s Tower, named after the German naturalist and explorer G. A. Fischer. He was the first European to document it in 1885. Around the base and scuttling among the rocks are dassies, or rock hyrax, quite unperturbed by visitors.

When Lake Naivasha ceased to flow through the 15km of the Ol-Njorowa Gorge, it left a natural highway between the soda lakes of Lake Natron and Magadi in the south and the fresh water lakes and rivers in the north.

When you have walked or driven through Hell’s Gate by the time you reach the Ranger’s Post with Central Tower in the background, your adventure has only just begun.

EXPLORE VIEWS

From here you can explore the amazingly different views and experience and explore the lower gorge.

Turning down towards the gorge, the track is wet. As you go further, there is an almost sheer, but fairly climbable rock wall. On another side of the gorge is the highlight of the expedition with its high, water-eroded walls, in some places so narrow that they block out the sky.

If you return to the main gorge and turn left, you will come to a series of steep drops. Very rough and worn footholds have been cut into the soft rock and there are several hot and cold waterfalls to walk past.

During World War II, the land between Hell’s Gate and Mt Longonot was an artillery training camp with 25 pounder and anti-tank shells still there.

From the Ol Dubai campsite you can see the natural steam vents above the lava flow behind Ol Karia and Hobley’s volcano. Both sites can be reached by car and foot. You emerge eventually, somewhat damp into the smooth-floored and wider gorge with a sizeable stream running down the middle.

Near the top you will find steps, now eroded by green algae filled hot springs. These were cut for the film Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Other films have also been shot here, including Lara CroftTomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, which stars Angelina Jolie

At the summit, turn right to the viewpoint and gaze down the gorge with colourful strata and rock formations as it winds down towards the plains below Suswa, the extinct volcano.