By Joe Ombuor
A mention of hell conjures up images of fire and eternal suffering as opposed to heaven and its depiction of bliss and plenty.
So, a hell exists in the Rift Valley, so named because of the "hot" activities there. Forces from the earthâs belly push hot steam and geysers from deep underground and the activities are ceaseless.
Despite its rather frightening name, Hellâs Gate National Park, 100km from Nairobi, is a panoramic picnic spot and an evocative camping stopover providing endless biodiversity. Spectacular scenery includes towering cliffs, water gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam, making it one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa.
The face-lift involved sponsoring community projects and enhancing of visitor experience through the repair of roads and other infrastructure.
The effort according to KWS, is in line with Kenyaâs Vision 2030 development blue print that seeks to make tourism a leading sector as the country places itself as the best tourism destination in the world.
Access into this hell turned tourist heaven is through a narrow break in a cliff said to have been a tributary of a historic lake that fed the early inhabitants of the Rift Valley. Early explorers, Gustaff Fischer and Thomson named the access Hellâs Gate in 1883. The gate has been refurbished.
Gustaff , a German gave his name to the cliff known as Gustaff Tower, a 25 metre jagged volcanic plug suitable for climbers and home to a colony of rock hyrax that scientists say is a close relative of the elephant.
Olkaria hill, the highest point and landmark in the park, is used by the Maasai to mark their direction of collecting red ochre.
The Marvyn Carnelley Raptor Hide is a unique bird-viewing hide that incorporates a one-way window allowing visitors to view and photograph the raptors (birds of prey) at exceptionally close range.
When Mt Longonot last exploded in 1900, volcanic ash that accumulated at this gate remains almost unspoilt to this day, offering a wonderful experience to just behold or walk on. Obsidian caves formed from the last molten lava are alive with stalagmites and stalactities hanging from their roofs. The Hellâs gate gorge is lined with red cliffs that contain two volcanic plugs.