Kenya Rift Valley
Information pictures and diagrams from "East Africa Mountains".
Longonot volcano lies on the Rift Valley floor beside the old Nairobi to Naivasha road. Dramatic views of its crater may be obtained from viewpoints along the new road. The area is a national park and game abounds on the slopes of Longonot, particularly on the west side. The crater rim provides a fine access route to the main summit.
Access. Take the old Naivasha road (tarmac). About 70km from Nairobi, and just before Longonot village, there is a level crossing. Immediately before this a rough dusty track leads in 4km to a car park beside the Park Gate (2160m). If coming by bus or matatu it is best to get off near Longonot Station and cross the railway line to reach the dusty track not far beyond. Water is available at Longonot. Garage facilities: Narok turn-off (15km), though better at Naivasha Town (18km).
Sample of map of Hell's Gate and Longonot
Routes. From Park Gate the track follows the valley till it becomes a well defined gorge. At this point a steep dusty trail leads west to a flattish terrace. The clear and very dusty path now climbs in a south-west direction to the crater rim (2570m) in lh. Follow the rim pleasantly, anticlockwise (west), passing a parasitic cone on the right. Shortly a very steep descent path can be taken to steam jets halfway down to the crater floor. The rim path continues to the main summit which lies on the west side of the rim (2h15 from the Gate). It is possible to continue round the rim along the south and east sides (longer).
A more adventurous trip involves descending the very narrow and steep-sided west ridge starting from the main summit and leading west to a bushy plain, rich in game (1h30). A low ridge (Buni) to the west then a gentle slope down to the north-west (various tracks) leads in a further 6km to the Hell's Gate main park gate. The last section of this walk is tedious (3h from summit). In reverse it is difficult to locate the start of the west ridge but once gained the path is good (to the summit, 4h30 from Hell's Gate, 2h30 from base of ridge).
A poor dirt road leads from Longonot car park to Fischer's Tower, crossing Buni ridge (19km); from this the base of the west ridge is easily reached; see map for details.