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.
Scottsdale – Come for the Sights, Stay for the Experience
Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the most popular destinations in the Grand Canyon State. Known for its resorts, natural trails, and association with nightlife, the city has become a must visit for anyone who wants to experience contemporary life in a former desert.
Scottsdale is very famous for its modern hospitality and geographical sights. Keeping this in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to know that finding a Scottsdale nightclub is on the minds of many tourists who pay the city a visit – even those who do so to explore one of its mountainous ranges.
If you are planning to head down to the Copper State anytime soon and enjoy life, then Scottsdale may prove to be a great summer destination.
To help you understand what the city would have to offer in terms of recreation, here are some of the top Scottsdale vacation and dining options that make the West’s Most Western Town, a must visit.
Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is perhaps the most popular destination in the city. With its unique lineup of culturally rich events, this colorful area has a vibe that defines old West meeting its modern counterpart to a T.
While Scottsdale remains famous for its modern nightlife, club scene, and luxurious resorts, Old Town Scottsdale brings about the old Western charm for tourists to experience firsthand. Old architecture, preserving museums, and cultural activities are just a few of the many things that you could experience at this destination.
With an array of fine dining restaurants that prove to be the best in the state, you could grab a bite in luxury after roaming around in the sun.
And if you feel a bit more adventurous, then you could do that exploration while riding on a Segway instead of using your good old feet. With plenty of Segway tours being conducted each day, you will easily be able to find something that suits your schedule.
As the winter home to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin West boasts of an unmatched architectural design.
Now a museum, the destination doesn’t only showcase the building in all of its glory, but also offers insights into Wright’s work and his mind through detailed tours of the facility.
It is due to these reasons that Taliesin West ranks as one of the topmost destinations to visit in Scottsdale among many professional guides.
Since the building or its experience cannot be replicated elsewhere, it remains a must visit for whenever you are in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale Fashion Square
Want to visit the biggest shopping mall in Arizona? You would find it to be located in the heart of Scottsdale.
With around 2 million square feet of shopping space, the Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the biggest malls in the whole country. Made up of high end, luxury retail locations, it is literally the one stop shop for upscale items that you may not find elsewhere in the city. With that, the mall holds plenty of fine dining locations as well. What more could you want from a shopping destination, really?
Due to its modern inventory and access to high fashion, the Scottsdale Fashion Square could be a must visit before you hit the popular nightclub scene of the city. Whether you are finding some club wear or just want to spruce up your existing outfit with some Loboutins, this mall would provide you with plenty of choices and fun to boot.
Scottsdale Has Something for Everyone
Depending upon your personal preference, Scottsdale has plenty to offer. Whether you want to indulge in the city’s party scene or just explore its natural history, you would find that the destination has something for everyone.
So the next time that you are about to visit the Wild West, don’t forget to put Scottsdale at the top of your list. You won’t be disappointed with what you get to work with.
5 Fun Adventure Activities in Vietnam
A stunning country with glorious scenery and an amazing culture, Vietnam offers many attractions for the modern tourist. It would be easy to spend a holiday in Vietnam just sightseeing and immersing yourself in the culture – which thanks to a heavy French influence, is different to its South Eastern Asian neighbours – but why pass up on some of the fun adventure activities in Vietnam?
Also called sand surfing, sandboarding is an extreme sport, exactly like snowboarding, but on sand dunes instead of snow. Regularly named among the best sandboarding destinations in the world, are the Mue Ne Dunes. A series of red dunes around the resort town of the same name, sandboarding has not yet hit the professional heights here but is more of a fun cultural experience. Women in cone hats rent out boards to everyone from kids to saffron-robed Buddhist monks.
Mue Nie is also home to the magical Fairy Stream. This small shallow river winds through moon-like rock formations and is fun to walk through. You can watch the fish as you walk up to two kms in the water or you might try your hand at fishing. You’ll need some basic tackle including rod and reels. Check out these great options for beginners.
Take on Mount Fansipan
Nicknamed “the Roof of Indochina”, Fanispan at 3,143 metres is the highest mountain in the region. Located in Sapa, a town in the Lao Cai province in Northern Vietnam, the mountain can be conquered via two main climbing routes, one categorised as 2D1N, the other a longer 3D2N route. Both climbs require a guide. For those who prefer an easier way to the summit, the Fanispan cable car takes just 15 minutes to achieve what climbers do in 2-3 days, travelling on cables high above primitive forests.
Ride a Motorbike from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
One of the enduring images of Vietnam is the streets of Ho Chi Minh crowded with motorbikes, but motorbikes are also popular outside the cities and Vietnam has become known for some amazing motorbike routes. One of the favourite journeys is from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. There are various routes to cover the distance of more than 2,000 kms, all taking you through gorgeous scenery and fascinating towns and villages.
Marble Mountain Rappelling Tour with Temple and Cave Exploration
You might think that abseiling down a vertical rock face is for experienced adrenalin junkies but not so on a rappelling tour in the Marble Mountains in Vietnam. Located just north of the popular resort city of Hoi An, the Marble Mountains are known locally as the “Five Elements Mountains”. Tours start in the city and once in the mountains, all equipment and instruction is provided to complete at least two rappels (depending on the tour company you choose). Besides the rappelling, the tours have spectacular views of the coast and include trekking through the mountains, visiting caves and temples
Canyoning is a thrilling adrenaline rush of an adventure sport wherein you jump into a fast-flowing mountain stream and allow yourself to be carried at high speed downstream. The most popular place for canyoning in Vietnam is Dalat. Dalat is in the Central Highlands and is a lovely resort town near a lake becoming renown as a destination for honeymoons as well as the adventure sports of cliff jumping, waterfall rappelling, natural water slides, and hiking, as well as canyoning. Various companies offer canyoning tours in Dalat all at similar prices for similar itineraries, so just choose which appeals most.
The 4 Best US Cities for an Outdoor Adventure
If you are looking for a destination that will get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, you will be spoilt for options in the US. Offering various landscapes and tough terrains to tackle, outdoor enthusiasts can find some of the biggest and best challenges in different states across the country.
If you want to enjoy an adrenaline fix in 2019, check out the following four best US cities for an outdoor adventure.
- Los Angeles, California
There is more to Los Angeles than celebrity homes, high-end stores and boutiques, and fun Hollywood tours. Not only can you book charter jets Los Angeles to touch down in the city with ease, but there are many superb outdoor pursuits for adventure enthusiasts.
For example, you could try your hand at horseback riding at Griffith Park, or you could hike up Mount Baldy, which is the highest mountain point within Los Angeles County. Also, if you want to come face-to-face with various forms of marine life, you will be happy to learn you can snorkel in the stunning Lover’s Cove.
- Seattle, Washington
As Seattle is surrounded by water, you can choose from a multitude of fun watersports during a visit in the Emerald City. For example, you can take to the city’s lakes and waterways to enjoy a spot of:
- Jet skiing
- Paddle boarding
- Kite boarding
While hikers, cyclists, and runners will love to tackle the Burke-Gilman Trail, which is an extensive trail located north of Ballard by Puget Sound.
- Portland, Oregon
Offering more than 40 state parks and eight beautiful beaches, those looking for a fun outdoor adventure should look no further than Portland. Avid hikers should head straight to Forest Park once they arrive in the cool, laidback city, as it covers approximately 5,100 acres and is one of the largest urban forests in America.
Visitors can also escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Columbia River Gorge, which offers the largest concentration of waterfalls in the US, including the 620ft tall Multnomah Falls. It will offer a great hike for almost every age and can help visitors to reconnect with nature.
- Aurora, Colorado
Offering more than 300 days of glorious sunshine throughout the year, it is easy to see why many people make their way to Aurora to enjoy its many outdoor pursuits. One destination you shouldn’t overlook is Aurora Reservoir, which allows visitors to enjoy a spot of fishing, sailing, swimming, windsurfing, and boating.
If, however, you are looking for a destination that offers superb horseback riding opportunities, don’t miss out on 12 Mile Stables, which has been serving both locals and tourists for many decades. It’s an experience you will not forget in a hurry, as you can enjoy 27 miles of riding trails across 3,300 acres at Cherry Creek State Park.
If you are considering an outdoor getaway in the United States, you can rest assured the above destinations will not let you down.
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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