Hell's Gate

We took a little blogging hiatus during our vacation this past week, but now have a big backload of things to share with you. It was a great trip! On Saturday we spent the day at Hell's Gate National Park, an hour or so west of Nairobi. There were some animals, including gazelles and zebra, that we were able to walk amongst, but the highlight was some fantastic scenery with cliffs, volcanic towers, and a huge gorge (featured in the second Lara Croft Tomb Raider for all you movie buffs out there). From there, we spent the night at Kijabe Hospital with friends, and on Sunday went to Nairobi were we saw the Baby Elephant Orphanage and Maasai Market. We picked up my Aunt Lois and Uncle Bob on Monday, who had just spent the week in Tanzania for church activities and arranged an extended layover in Nairobi so they could see us! And then finally we spent 2 days at Masai Mara seeing an amazing amount of game animals. There are too many pictures and stories for one post, so I'll start with Hell's Gate.

The decision to go to Hell's Gate was actually only made on the day of our departure. We were deciding between it and Lake Naivasha, which we saw on the way, and were not disappointed with our decision. The trip got off to a great start as we saw over 20 giraffes by the side of the highway on our way. We often see animals by the side of the road (gazelle and baboons, even an occasional zebra or giraffe) but never this many!
The first part of the day was spent driving through the park. Most parks don't allow you to walk on foot, but HG does, so we all got out of the van and walked down trails in between zebras. We never got close enough to touch, but it was still in fun way to be in the middle of nature.
Maggie needed a full outfit change upon our arrival...

You can see the zebras dotting the plains behind us.

Then we had a picnic lunch and headed to the gorge. Joan stayed behind as her knee was acting up, and it was a good thing, as we discovered. In retrospect, I don't know if we would have brought Maggie in the baby carrier, either! It was quite a hike...
Heading into "Hell" with our Masai guide, Joe. We weren't convinced we needed a guide, but were quite glad for him within about 90 seconds of our departure.
The scenery was beautiful, and the main canyon featured a small stream with lots of waterfalls. We actually climbed down the waterfalls and hiked through the canyon floor beside and in the stream.
Here we are in the side gorge. Several months a year it is FULL of water, but this is a drier time of year.
To get to the end of the side gorge, there were a few rock faces that we needed to climb up. Joe was an excellent guide and showed us exactly where to put hands and feet, but for a grandma and a guy carrying a 13 month old on his back, it was still a bit scary at times (for the mommy watching). :)
Back in the main gorge, we entered the portion of the canyon that gives Hell's Gate its name--the hot springs. You can see beautiful waterfalls above, and the water was HOT! The picture doesn't show the fact that the water was all steaming.
Joe, the man who brought us out of Hell...
This is one of the many pictures of us scrambling down slick rocks to get to the canyon floor. I was impressed that my mom kept going! Not like she had a lot of options, but still.
And finally, back out of the gorge. You can see the Central Tower in the background, which was formed by lava flowing up out of a vent.

Stay tuned for the Elephant Orphanage photos, coming soon!


Banks Off Shore said...

Sounds amazing. So many things we wished we could have done there, too. We miss you guys, glad you got to experience all of that, can't wait to hear more. PS, the beard is back!