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Trail of tragedy at park hosting Devil’s Bedroom

Tuesday April 24 2012

The name Hell’s Gate was coined by 19th century explorers Fischer and Thomson in 1883 in relation to a door in the gorge which leads down to a boiling cauldron of molten rock, also known as Hell’s Kitchen.

PHOTO / FILE The name Hell’s Gate was coined by 19th century explorers Fischer and Thomson in 1883 in relation to a door in the gorge which leads down to a boiling cauldron of molten rock, also known as Hell’s Kitchen.  

By MUCHEMI WACHIRA [email protected]

It remains one of the most popular tourist attraction sites, despite its history of disasters.

Just last Sunday, seven youths from Mukarara PCEA Church in Nairobi’s Dagoretti met their deaths at Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha after they were swept away by flash floods as they enjoyed an expedition. Forty-four others survived.

Apart from Sunday’s incident, similar tragedies have been witnessed in the past.

In March 2009, a bus belonging to Happy Mary School of Nairobi was involved in accident at the park. Five pupils perished, while 28 sustained injuries.

The bus had developed a mechanical problem as the pupils drove up a steep hill and rolled back before overturning.

The area where the bus rolled has been described as a black spot. The pupils were on an education tour and were being transported to the park in three buses.

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A month later, a granddaughter of President Mwai Kibaki, Joy Muthoni, was injured while trying to climb a rock, sending a scare among the park officials and security agents. (READ: Hell’s Gate: Park that is living by its name)

Beautiful sceneries

But with its beautiful sceneries that are a sight to behold, Hell’s Gate National Park remains ones of the most visited.

Besides the picnic areas, the park is famous for dare-devil rock climbing and has a unique gorge from which it derives its name.

Two European explorers, Fisher and Thomson came up with the name Hell’s Gate when they visited in 1883.

The gorge and the cliffs are so high, they frighten visitors. Despite the dreaded features however, it remains an irresistible allure especially for first time visitors exploring what nature has to offer. 

Both local and international tourists flock the park to experience both the beauty and the scare.

And Hell’s Gate is not the only name at the park that is terrifying. There are other sites with frightening names, such as the Devil’s Bedroom.

This is a cave at the bottom of the walls of the gorge where carcasses and skeletons of animals swept away by floods are smashed against rocks.

And strange as it may sound, visitors are usually attracted to the Devil’s Bedroom like bees are to honey.

The intricacies of the site might have motivated the naming of the Devil’s Bedroom.

At one time, it was rumbling with the sound of missiles when it was used as an artillery training ground during the Second World War.

As visitors try to figure out the wonders of Mother Nature, for the superstitious, the twin names associated with the devil might be contributing to the series of tragedies of shocking magnitude over the decades.

Yet it’s these very names that are drawing local and foreign tourist in hordes.