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Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya

Find out what it is like to cycle next to wild animals in Kenya from my recent Mountain Biking in Hell’s Gate National Park.

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Mountain Biking in Hell's Gate National Park

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.

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.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Sonali

    July 6, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    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

    July 7, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    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!!

  3. Kristy of Family Visa

    July 8, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    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

    July 8, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    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

    July 10, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    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

    July 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    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

  7. Charli | Wanderlusters

    July 11, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    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!

  8. Michael

    July 11, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    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

    July 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    The views are breathtaking. The area must have had good rains of late.

  10. Shalu

    July 14, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Kenya looks absolutely stunning. Its would have been nice to see all those exotic animals going by as you went along on your bike.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Such a rare and extraordinary thing to be able to do! Just glad there were no lions haha.

  11. Jarmo

    July 16, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    Great photos and views! Seems like a pretty awesome bike ride 🙂

  12. Carri Uranga

    July 17, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    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!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Great news that you are checking our Oasis Overland Carri! Highly recommend them. And thanks for the follows on Instagram and Pinterest!

  13. Peter Shaw - Long Term travel

    July 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    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.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      I know! I wish I could explore whole countries by bike but never seem to have the time…

  14. Hell's Gate National Park , Kenya

    July 22, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    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.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Thanks so much and it really is an amazing park. Keep it up 🙂

  15. Marian

    July 23, 2013 at 7:54 AM

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

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Adventure Travel

What To Do If You Have A Car Accident While Traveling

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Travel is exciting. Generally speaking, this is a good thing. But, sometimes a trip can turn out to be eventful for the wrong reasons. 

The last thing you need is to have a car accident, even a small one, while you are traveling. It puts a real dampener on things and if you do not take the right action an event like that can carry on having a negative impact on your life even after you get home. With this in mind, I thought I would put together a few tips to help you to navigate what can be a tricky situation.

Call a lawyer

Regardless of where you are, it is wise to seek legal help after an accident. In particular, if someone has been hurt or it looks like there could be a lot of damage. 

You can never be sure where these cases will lead, so having the support of a lawyer is useful. Most car accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation. So, you can use that to ask them what to do next and ascertain if you are likely to need their services. 

It is best to start by explaining that you have had your accident while vacationing. This will enable them to advise you about whether you need to hire a lawyer close to where you live or where you had the accident. 

Notify the insurance firm

Also, ask them about what to say when speaking to the insurance firm. You will definitely need to contact them. Usually, there is a time limit for doing this, so be aware of this and make sure you comply.

But, you will need to be careful about what you say. Regardless of where you are in the world, it is not wise to admit blame.

Notify the car hire firm

If you were driving a hire car, at the time of your accident, you normally have to notify them too. Again, your lawyer will be able to advise you about what to say. 

This will ensure that you do not inadvertently end up taking the blame or agreeing to pay for something you shouldn’t. You need to speak to your car hire firm within the timescales agreed when you signed the contract.

Follow the local rules and regulations

Before you leave home, you need to have familiarized yourself with driving rules of the area you were traveling to. There are differences. For example, you have to understand how serious an accident has to be for it to be obligatory to call the police to the scene of the accident. In some parts of the world, you have to deploy warning triangles and put on high visibility vests. Not knowing and complying with these special rules can get you in a lot of trouble.

Contact your travel insurance provider too

Wherever you travel to you should always buy a good travel insurance policy that includes cover for medical emergencies. Most of the time, this is how your medical expenses will be covered. But, as you can see here if you are held responsible for the accident you will almost certainly be liable for the other party’s medical expenses. That is why it is very important to only hire a car if good car insurance is included.

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Adventure Travel

Three Reasons You Need To Try Camping

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Holidays are that point of your working year when you finally get to relax, finally get to step away from the laptop and finally get some much needed time to recover from the stresses and strains of work.

It’s the pin on the calendar that gives you something to look forward to and the point where you know all that planning and work was worthwhile.

But are that person who finds it hard to put down the laptop and step away from their phone. Perhaps, you find it hard to switch off and worry about how the business is functioning in your absence.

In this blog, we take a look at three reasons why camping is the ultimate getaway for the stressed out executive.

Image from Pixabay: CC0 licence

Why Basic is Better

What’s the first thing you do when you check into your luxury hotel? That’s right, you ask for the wifi code and make sure your charger is plugged in. A home from home environment is great but when that home turns into an extension of your office, then you’re not going to be able to switch off and focus on where you are, even with the best will in the world.

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and limiting your options is a bit like tough love, hard to do but ultimately a decision that everyone benefits from.

Gone is your focus on charging a phone and instead you’re thinking about when to fire up the BBQ or how many blankets you’re going to need that night.

Great for All Types of Families

Including couples, friends and those with children. Simply put camping brings people together. The campfire toasting marshmallows, the walks into the countryside and the late nights talking and playing cards together. No phones, no TV and no distractions, just you and your family remembering what it’s like, just to talk and be together.

The Great Outdoors

Watching your kids or your dog enjoying bounding around outside is great for the soul. Just taking time to enjoy the views at a campsite such as Rest Point Caravan Park in Walpole will help you to reconnect with the great outdoors and remember what’s it like to forget your responsibilities, just for a little while at least.

You might also give yourself the opportunity to try a new sport, get back on your bike or just enjoy some gentle exercise in the fresh air with the prospect of a tasty BBQ at the end of the day.

You might not feel like a natural camper but if the alternative is being cooped up in your hotel pouring over your emails, then make this an option that you add to your list. Be brave, go and buy a great tent or go to a site where you can rent them and take a chance on the great outdoors. Breathe some fresh air, admit there’s no wifi and enjoy a holiday reconnecting with the people and pets you value most.

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Adventure Travel

A Beginners Guide To Camping

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There are lots of different options when it comes to time away –  city breaks; adventure holidays or a leisurely escape by the pool. Another popular choice is camping. Whether it’s getting away from it all for a long weekend with friends or having a week’s holiday, camping is a great choice. There are some things you need to know and essentials you should take so we’ve put together a few tips to help you along the way.

Booking a pitch

One of the first things you should do when considering camping is to book a pitch within your chosen campsite. There are thousands to choose from. Some campsites have more amenities than others. You may want a club for the kids or evening entertainment. Some campsites even have indoor pools and gyms. Once you have narrowed down what you want you can make your booking. Be aware that not all pitches come with electricity available so check that out too. Once you have booked, you can start getting all the essentials you need for your forthcoming adventure!

Choosing the right tent

There are loads of different tents on the market these days.  Comfort is important as is space so finding something within your budget that ticks all the boxes can take time. If you are fairly tall you might want to look for a tent that accommodates extra head height. If you have children there are options to have separate bedrooms as well as living areas. Air tents are becoming increasingly popular these days so if you don’t want to spend hours pitching a traditional tent with poles, that might be the right option for you. They come with inflatable air tubes that are pumped up. A few ropes to hold it down and that’s it. Some can be erected in minutes leaving you more time to go and explore your surroundings and start your holiday.

Eating and drinking

One of the great things about camping is cooking and eating outdoors. There are lots of different camping stove options available depending on the size and type you want. There is no point in making lots of delicious food and having nothing to eat it with, or on. Melamine or enamel plates and cups are a good idea as they won’t break and a good set of cutlery is a must. There are lots of different camping utensils available which are compact and thus easily stored. Assuming you have an electricity source on your pitch, an electric coolbox is also a great idea for camping. You can keep foods fresh and drinks cold.

Relax

Whether it be taking the kids to the on-site park, having a few drinks with friends, or going for a long walk, there is always plenty to do when camping. Check out the local area online in advance so you have a rough idea of where you want to go once you arrive. The most important thing is to relax and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful surroundings.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe 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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