Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya

| July 4, 2013 | 20 Comments

Casting a wary eye across the line-up of assorted bikes on offer, I knew we were in for an interesting morning mountain biking in Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya. And not just for the wildlife we would be cycling past, including the chance to spot some of the “Big 5” from the saddle.

Looking like a second-hand jumble sale at the local school, the mountain bikes for our expedition into the heart of Hell’s Gate National Park ranged from barely working to scrapheap worthy.

Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park

Not ones to be easily put off we grinded away up the road.

Sticking to the back of the pack as we set off for the 4km ride to the Game Park entrance it quickly became apparent that my initial assessment of the bikes was spot on. As our “Guide” cycled away into the distance I maintained a steady stream of riders who were stopping to fix slipping gears, lost chains and stuck brake pads. Luckily by the entrance our bikes were somewhat sorted and initial nerves settled.

Cruising under the park gates, the crew from my 75 Day tour through Africa with Oasis Overland continued a steady pedal up the slight incline into Hell’s Gate National Park.

Mt Biking Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Known for its beautiful landscapes (scenes for the Lion King were inspired here) rather than it’s huge array of wildlife, we were initially struck by the beauty of the cliff formations leading us into “Hell”. The limestone cliffs of various shades of red, yellow, white and black have been shaped by Mother Natures hand over thousands of years with glaciers, wind and rain slowly whittling away tiny particles like a wood carver tuning a piece of ebony.

Eroded limestone towers and fingers strike up out of the earth creating perfect climbing routes for adventure seekers looking for rock climbs to conquer.

Biking in Hells Gate National Park

It wasn’t long before we began to spot out first signs of game either.

Impala, warthogs, zebra and even a lone Giraffe strolled between the valley walls as we pedalled on and on. While we had been closer to the animals while exploring Lake Nakuru National Park, cycling alongside herds of game animals is another experience entirely.

Stopping to snap pictures at regular intervals while trying to keep your distance from these wild animals is something I’m not sure I could ever get used to.

Watching a Water Buffalo stare you down from just 50m’s away while sitting on a mountain bike, and knowing that if you had to run then there was no way that you could outpace it if it was annoyed is enough to get the adrenaline pumping. As well as those tired legs rotating a little bit quicker.

Mountain Biking in Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

After 11kms our guide decided to let our butts rest but keep our legs working.

We began a zig-zagging descent into one of the tightly winding canyons. Carved from rivers and thermal activity, these canyons split the earth in two during periods of heavy rain.

Scalding water pours from cracks in the limestone walls causing steam to rise up out of the canyons which gives Hell’s Gate its name.

Canyon in Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Leaping from stone to stone and scaling the walls like mountain goats we had to resort to various Parkour manoeuvres to make our way deeper into the canyon. While not for the faint-hearted it wasn’t terribly taxing and there were easier routes we could have taken.

Scrambling back out of Hell’s Gate into the blazing Kenya sunshine after the relative cool shade within the canyon just meant that we would soon have to be back in the saddles to ride back past the wild animals. But not before we were rewarded with a stunning view across the length of Hell’s Gate National Park which we hadn’t yet ventured into.

Viewpoint Hells Gate National Park, Kenya

Since it had been a while since I had a bike seat clenched beneath my thighs, the return ride back was tender to say the least. But with tired legs we were able to travel slower across the rutted trails allowing more time to view the animals in their natural surroundings.

Most of which paid us barely any attention at all.

Information for Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park

Location:

Located 2.5 hours north of Nairobi in Kenya, it is a worthwhile stopping point if you are making your way to Uganda or Rwanda to trek with the Mountain Gorillas.

Cost:

The entrance fee for Hell’s Gate National Park is $20, while Mountain Bike hire costs range from $15 – $25 per person.

Additional Information:

The mountain biking in Hell’s Gate National Park is endless and it is also one of the only Game Parks in the world where you can cycle through. Our ride took 4 hours and included a lunch at a local restaurant with delicious local cuisine.

While our local guide provided bits and pieces of history, information and pointed us in the right direction, we would have appreciated a bit more of a hand with the bikes. Self-guiding is definitely an option.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (20)

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  1. Sonali says:

    Wow that giraffe has one hell of a tongue! Loving the wildlife post, very inspiring to see such good conservation work going on.

  2. Arti says:

    Those limestone rocks look so very beautiful! Nature has worked very hard to create the masterpiece!! Love your narration, and yes staring at that wild buffalo must be a scary thing!!
    Arti recently posted..Roads Untravelled: My Village Walk in Kannur, KeralaMy Profile

  3. I love the rock formation. It is a stunning view although the name of the place is not pleasing to the ears because of the word “Hell”.

  4. Danni says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Though, yeah, from that one picture I can kind of get the idea of the level of bikes they had available. But it seems totally worth it, that scenery is incredible!

  5. Dante says:

    Hey Cole Burmester-

    Your last post Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya was freaking awesome. I have gone ahead and added your stuff to my Feedly account. Please keep me updated if you post anywhere else.

    Keep rocking –

    Dante

  6. Ian Faulds says:

    Sounds like a great way to see the area. I’ll have to put this on my future to do list. Have you biked around any other national parks around the world? If so how did this compare?

    Cheers,

    Ian Faulds
    Ian Faulds recently posted..Milwaukee July 3rd FogworksMy Profile

  7. We’ve just invested in some mountain bikes to explore the awesome terrain here in New Zealand and annoying the weather has just taken a turn for the worst! Looks like you had an incredible trip despite the prehistoric bike you rode!
    Charli | Wanderlusters recently posted..Travel Mémoires | Tears Of Joy In ParisMy Profile

  8. Michael says:

    Awesome! What a great way to explore the wildlife of Africa. Such an up close and personal experience. The scenery just makes it that much better! Totally jealous of your mountain biking adventure.

  9. Hannes Uys says:

    The views are breathtaking. The area must have had good rains of late.
    Hannes Uys recently posted..Colour in Wedding PhotographyMy Profile

  10. Shalu says:

    Kenya looks absolutely stunning. Its would have been nice to see all those exotic animals going by as you went along on your bike.
    Shalu recently posted..Personal experience of visiting the Taj MahalMy Profile

  11. Jarmo says:

    Great photos and views! Seems like a pretty awesome bike ride :)
    Jarmo recently posted..Setting Sail on Lake SuperiorMy Profile

  12. I love these Africa posts! I just realized I wasn’t following you on IG or Pinterest, where you have even more amazing photos! Looks like an incredible trip. Checking out Oasis Overland for sure!
    Carri Uranga recently posted..Ultimate Packing GuideMy Profile

  13. Great images and a nice post. I love seeing things by bike, I think its the best way to get to really know and get up close with a place. In Holland (where I am currently), the bike culture is amazing. Best way to see a country I think is on the back of a bike.
    Peter Shaw – Long Term travel recently posted..So Much To See So Little TimeMy Profile

  14. Am thrilled reading this article about the enthusiasm you guys have about Hell’s Gate and the fun you had when you visited. I love the photos and the sharing of this information across the world. Visit our website and our face book page for more pics and information. Kudos guys.

  15. Marian says:

    I love the rock formation, The landscape is really beautiful. Great pictures as always…

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