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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The entrance fee for Hell’s Gate National Park is $20, while Mountain Bike hire costs range from $15 – $25 per person.
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.
Five Steps for Stress-Free Travel
Many people travel to get away from the stresses of daily life. Vacation is often associated with relaxation and a lack of worries. However, many travelers still find themselves stressing over little things while on the road. Fortunately, some efforts can be taken before a vacation to help reduce these worries. Here are five steps to take before traveling to help reduce stress while abroad.
Research Your Destination
Traveling to a foreign country can be a daunting experience. Foreign languages and other cultural barriers can make it difficult to function during the trip. Even though smartphones make it possible to overcome many of these obstacles within a few minutes, it is still critical to research destinations before visiting. Even the smallest bit of research can help to make the trip much smoother and stress-free. While there are endless topics that can be learned before traveling abroad, there are a few key pieces to keep in mind. All travelers should have a general idea about local transportation, cultural customs, and language before visiting a new location. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to have a sense of the general state of cybersecurity in that part of the world, in order to reduce the chances of a security breach of your laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Purchase Renters Insurance
When traveling abroad for a trip, there is already enough to worry about on the road. In order to have a stress-free vacation, travelers need to take care of any potential problems at home. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by protecting a house or apartment with insurance. Although a robbery or natural disaster may occur during vacation, travelers can rest assured that insurance will cover the losses. Travelers can research renters insurance online to see what kind of options are available.
Organizing Travel Documents
Seeing vacation pictures on Instagram and watching the Travel Channel can lead many people with an idealistic picture of traveling. While travel is still an amazing experience, it requires a lot more red-tape and formalities than most people think. Many countries require foreign visitors to have visas before visiting. These visas can only be obtained upon request and after showing the appropriate documentation. Even when traveling in countries without visa requirements, it is important to carry some important documents. Some of these include a passport copy, flight details, hotel reservations and more.
There is nothing worse than returning home after a vacation with less money than you had expected. This is often a result of poor, or a complete lack of, budgeting. Some travelers make the mistake of assuming that budgeting can take place on a daily basis. In reality, it is much more effective to budget before traveling to a destination. Tourists should calculate the total cost of a trip by adding up transportation, accommodation, food and activity expenses. This budgeting will help travelers save money in the long-run and can help remove any stress associated with potentially over-spending.
Buy a Local SIM Card
People rely heavily on their smartphones to get through daily life. With accurate information just a few taps away, there is no wonder that these devices have become some of the most popular gadgets in the 21st century. People run into a problem when traveling abroad as their phones don’t have data abroad. Ironically, traveling to a foreign country is one of the most crucial times to have a smartphone for maps and other helpful information. Instead of searching desperately for wifi, tourists should buy local SIM cards to activate their phones. This will make it much easier to find directions, translate foreign languages and calculate conversion rates.
Stress-free travel is something that needs to be prepared beforehand. These five steps can help to ensure that your next vacation is as worry-free and relaxing as can be.
Seven Destinations You Should Visit With Your Spouse
When you’re traveling as a couple, finding the perfect romantic destination is essential. What could be better than spending quality time together, just the two of you, in one of the most beautiful places in the world?
Here, we bring you 7 destinations that you absolutely must visit with your significant other. Whether you love relaxing on golden sand beaches, enjoy exploring amazing sights or discovering culture and heritage, there’s sure to be a destination here that appeals to you and your spouse.
1.New York City, USA
So good they named it twice, New York New York is one of the ultimate destinations for lovers. What could be more special than standing at the top of the Empire State Building together, admiring the panoramic views? Whether you’re fans of history, culture or theater, you’ll find something in the Big Apple for you. Take in Broadway show, discover world-class museums and then take a romantic carriage ride around Central Park. If you’ve got time, there’s always the famous Katz Deli where you can recreate the iconic “I’ll Have What She’s Having” scene from When Harry Met Sally!
One of the most romantic cities in the entire world, Paris is an absolute must for lovers everywhere. Strolling hand in hand in Montmartre, kissing on top of the Eiffel Tower and looking into each other’s eyes over a meal in an intimate pavement café, what could be better than that? A dinner cruise on the Seine, watching the lights of the city twinkling on the water is the perfect way to end a perfect day in the City of Love.
If your idea of indulgent pleasure is lying on an endless golden sand beach and listening to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, Honolulu is the place to go. Luxurious hotels and outstanding service paired with gorgeous surroundings and amazing weather – it all adds up to a fantastic couples’ break.
If you dream of having endless time with your loved one in an exotic destination unlike any other, The Maldives is the ideal vacation spot for you. Gorgeous beaches and clear water make for a wonderful spot, whether you love relaxation or water activities. If you and your spouse are keen divers, this is a destination beyond compare. There are many wonderful dive sites here where you can get up close to colorful marine life and explore the world under the sea. You can even make planning for your trip a romantic couples’ activity! Spend time together browsing online and get details from Scubalist.Pro of all the best diving items on the market.
After Paris, Venice must be one of the most romantic spots on the planet. With its unique canals and gorgeous buildings, Italy’s city of love presents a world of opportunities to spend quality time with your spouse. Ride in a gondola together as the sun sets, enjoy a romantic meal by the canal side, or explore stunning ancient buildings in an amazing setting. It’s a vacation you’ll never forget.
Greece has it all – a wonderful climate, welcoming people, amazing food and gorgeous surroundings. Santorini is one of the most beautiful and unique Greek islands. With its iconic white and blue buildings and black volcanic sand, it is a truly stunning place to explore with your other half. You can dine on traditional cuisine at an authentic taverna, stroll through rustic villages and simply soak in the sunshine together.
7.Blue Lagoon, Iceland
A surprisingly popular destination with couples, Iceland offers something truly unique to partners who prefer to stay out of the sun. With its spectacular landscapes, beautiful natural attractions and welcoming locals, Iceland is a destination for lovers. Also, what could be more romantic than snuggling up together on a cold winter’s night? The Blue Lagoon’s stunning blue geothermal spa waters are the ideal way to spend time together in this one-of-a-kind destination.
These are just seven of the best destinations in the world for lovers to get closer together and enjoy themselves in their own special way. Whether you love sun, relaxation or activity, one of these seven spots is sure to give you the romance you’ve been searching for.
5 Tips to Avoid Conflicts During a Big Vacation
No matter, if you are with family or friends, traveling with a big vacation party almost always, seems to be nothing short of a grueling experience.
Whether you are going through some well-planned and scenic Uganda tours or a culturally rich expedition through Europe, if there are more than 4 people in your traveling party, then the possibility of arising conflicts would certainly be be present.
Most people, when assembled to spend extensive periods of time together, seem to run on high emotions. While that phenomenon is most apparent in reality TV shows, a vacation is not immune to its effects either.
That is why, whenever you plan a big vacation, keep the following tips in mind in order to get the most of your traveling experience while also making sure that your traveling party is not getting at each other’s nerves.
Discuss Itineraries Before Finalizing Them
Itineraries are a touchy subject. While traveling in groups, one of the biggest pet peeves often noticed by people is how a single person hijacks their whole vacation by presenting their own itineraries. On the other hand, if no one discusses itineraries, then it leaves room for all kinds of scheduling disasters to take place.
Therefore, the best approach here is to not just let a single person print out a set of schedule for everyone, but rather to discuss the itinerary with the whole group. Take suggestions and incorporate them wherever you could, and ensure that everyone is agreed on the final itinerary.
Leave Room for Disaster Management
While fixing those itineraries, you will also need to make sure that while your schedule makes the most out of your vacation, it does have wiggle room for times when your car breaks down or when one of your travel companions has a wardrobe emergency.
By ensuring that you have a great schedule as a guideline but which has flexibility for disaster management, you can make sure to maintain the stress levels of your travel party accordingly.
Ensure That You Have Activities Planned for Downtime
Even during great vacations, there may come a time when you would find yourself stuck in your hotel room due to a last minute cancellation of your plans for any unforeseen reason.
For those times of collective confinement, ensure that you have a few indoor activities planned with your travel party. If possible, pack a deck of cards to play some poker or ensure that you have electronic group entertainment with you.
By making sure that you keep your travel group busy even during times when you are not out exploring, you can keep emotions from running high by someone delving into overthinking someone else’s behavior on the trip, which could lead to some interesting but quite unfortunate arguments.
Make Sure That You Have Some Gastronomic Pleasures Planned
During travels, one of the things that could irk people the most is them missing wholesome meals back home. This is a major stress factor that many travelers often ignore until it affects their mood to the level where it leads to testy behavior for no apparent reason.
Thus, ensure that wherever you are traveling, you are aware of the food customs of your destination. You may ask locals about where you could get a good bite to eat, while also packing some healthy travel snacks so that no one in your party goes hungry.
Ensure to At Least Listen to Other’s Suggestions, No Matter If They Are Last Minute
One of the best things that you could do while traveling in a group is to make sure that everyone feels included. Instead of pushing opinions down other’s throats, ensure that everyone in the group is open for discussion and last minute ideas from everyone else.
While not all ideas are great and some may need to be turned down, this will make sure that none of your group members feel like they are on someone else’s vacation. You can also introduce a casual voting system of your own where all of you could vote on certain suggestions so that the majority wins on a travel option fair and square.
Ensure to Stick Together In Order to Avoid Disasters
Vacation disasters are quite common. While they make for interesting stories a few years after, going through those experiences could be quite daunting.
Remember, looking out for each other goes a long way especially when you are traveling. Keep that in mind the next time you are about to snap at your travel companion (and tell your companions the same thing, but in a nice tone, you know, to avoid conflict).
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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