Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, fringed by thick papyrus. The lake is almost 13kms across, with an average depth of five metres. Lake area varies greatly according to rainfall, with an average range between 114 and 991 sq km. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Naivasha completely dried up and effectively disappeared. The resulting open land was farmed, until heavy rains a few years later caused the lake to return to existence, swallowing up the newly established estates.
Afternoon wind and storms can cause the Lake to become suddenly rough and produce high waves. For this reason, the local Maasai christened the lake Nai’posha meaning ”rough water”, which was later misspelt by the British as Naivasha.
Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea – the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world-class birding destination.
Major Attraction: The main attraction of Hell’s Gate NP is its dramatic scenery. The name refers to the steep-sided valley running through the park. The volcanic landscape is dominated by dormant volcanos and several ancient lava plugs sticking out from the valley floor.
Wildlife: Hell’s Gate is not a big wildlife safari destination. Of the Big Five, the only buffalo are seen, while leopard is around but seldom encountered. Giraffe, zebra, eland, hartebeest and Thomson’s gazelle are common. Olive baboons are often seen perched on the cliffs while a good spotter might pick up a pair of klipspringers. Less common is the Chanler’s mountain reedbuck, which can be found grazing on the grassy slopes.
Getting there: Hell’s Gate is located 100km/62 mi northwest of Nairobi and 18km/11mi west of Naivasha. As there is no accommodation in the park, most people visit as a day trip from Lake Naivasha. Naivasha is easily reached by car via a tar road from Nairobi. Alternatively, there are daily flights to Loldia airstrip on the western side of Naivasha.
Getting to Nairobi is easy as this is one of the biggest transport hubs on the continent. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
Naivasha, from where you can visit Hell’s Gate, is a convenient stop-over between Nairobi and the Masai Mara. The distance from Naivasha to the Masai Mara is 170km/105mi and the driving time is about three and a half hours.
Where To Stay: The tier ranking represents an overall score for an individual accommodation in Lake Naivasha based on the quality of the lodging, guiding standards, service, food, road and air transport, location and proximity to the best natural, cultural and historical attractions. By choosing a tier that suits your travel needs and personal taste, you feel confident that your accommodation experience in Kenya will exceed your expectations.
There tier categories are Tier 1 for high-end premier accommodations and Tier 2 for mid-range deluxe accommodations. The most economical option is our Tier 3 for modest, value accommodations. For your bush travel to Lake Naivasha, we recommend accommodations in all three tiers.