Naivasha's National Parks: Hell's Gate and Longonot Crater

For a break from watery Naivasha and a chance to check out a more varied topography, ask your hosts to pack a picnic for a visit to the nearby Hell's Gate National Park (tel. 050/50-407;; $25 adults, $10 children), where there are hot springs and spectacular gorges. Although there are some seldom-seen predators, one of the attractions at Hell's Gate is being able to hike through the park and walk among the zebra, impala, gazelle, and other plains game. If you're exceedingly lucky, you can even spot Rüppell's griffons or lammergeyer vultures amid the park's basaltic cliffs. It's also possible to bike through the park, and the red cliffs of Njorowa gorge are good for climbing -- however, you need to avoid any strenuous activity in Hell's Gate (including excessive walking) during the inevitable midday heat, so aim for a morning visit. With temperatures in the bowels of Earth beneath Hell's Gate bubbling at more than 300 °C (572°F), this is one of the world's hottest natural sources of water and cleverly supplies a geothermal power plant.

Adjacent Hell's Gate is Mount Longonot National Park (tel. 050/50-407; $20 adults, $10 children), centered on a mighty dormant volcano that takes its name, appropriately enough, from the Maasai word for Mountain of Many Spurs -- Oloonong'ot. The sides of the volcano feature numerous V-shaped valleys formed by the erosion of the soft volcanic soil. You can ascend to the crater rim in about an hour (you must be accompanied by an armed ranger); with stunning vistas in every direction, you'll quickly discover why it's such a popular hiking destination. Circumnavigate the crater rim to take it all in -- you'll see Lake Naivasha stretching out from the foot of the volcano and the Rift itself clearly bounded by the Mau escarpment to the west and the Aberdare mountain range to the east. You'll need a couple of hours to complete the route around the rim, and definitely avoid any urge to descend into the impenetrable forest in the crater itself.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.