The Caracal (Felis caracal)

The Caracal (Felis caracal)

The Caracal (Felis caracal): is a medium-sized wild cat that can run up to 50 miles per hour and capable of leaping into the air and knocking down (10-13) birds at one time. The name caracal is derived from Turkish word “Karakulak” meaning “black ear”. Caracal are very agile and can jump up to 3 metres in the air to catch guinea-fowl and pigeons. The old saying “to put the cat amongst the pigeons” stems from an old middle east practice of putting a caracal in an arena with a flock of pigeons and taking bets how many the caracal can catch once it is released. A caracal’s black, tufted ears gives it a different look from most cats in the wild. Its speed and ability to leap into the air makes it an excellent hunter.

Appearance

A large, rufous-fawn cat with tufted black ears, creamy underbelly with faded orange spots and long legs. The face has exquisite markings and the cat must be regarded as one of the most beautiful cats in the world. The caracal moves with grace and a sense of confident power. It is an expert climber and regularly takes refuge in trees.

Size

From head to tail, the caracal measures 33-48 inches (83-123 centimeters) including their tail. They are known to be the heaviest of the small African cats weighing from 25 to 40 pounds (9.5 to 18 kilograms). Males are generally larger than females.

Habitat

Caracals live in the drier savannah and woodland regions of sub-Saharan Africa and prefer the more scrubby, arid habitats. They will also inhabit evergreen and montane forests but are not found in tropical rainforests.

 Communication

Caracals may purr when content and make a variety of other mews, hisses and growls to express their mood just like other cats. They are usually silent but can cry out like a leopard if needed. In addition to that, they make a “wah-wah” sound when they seem to be uneasy.  Caracals have got scent glands between their toes and face which is used to get a message across. They can sharpen their claws on a tree and mark their territory visually and will scent at the same time! The scent may serve to keep other caracals away or even to indicate a willingness to breed.

Social structure

The social system of the caracal is not well understood. They are primarily solitary or live as mated pairs. Individuals appear to defend territories which they mark with urine.

Behavior

The caracal is the mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary and an aggressive animal. Due to being hunted as a problem animal by farmers, caracal became even more elusive and thus a sighting of one is very difficult.

Breeding

In most parts of its range, the caracal has no set breeding period and a female may often mate with up to 3 males. The litter size varies between (1-6) kittens, which are born after a gestation period of approximately 78 days. The kittens have a daily weight gain of approximately 12g per day and although they reach maturity at about (16-18) months of age, they are often independent from about 12 months.

Reproduction

Caracals keep to themselves until its time to mate and one of the most unique caracal sounds is a mating call that sounds sort of like a cough. Several male caracals may fight or compete for the attention of one female caracal but eventually, it chooses a male out of the group. After mating, the male leaves the female caracal so she can raise the babies on her own.

Babies

A female caracal carries her babies (Kits) for about 69 to 81 days. She finds an old den or burrow where she can give birth away from the predators and other threats. They can have from 1 to 6 kits but most have just 2 kits and each kit weighs about 7 to 9 ounces at birth. A caracal kit is about the size of a pet hamster and these kits are born with their eyes just like the domesticated kittens. It takes about 6 to 10 days for a kit’s eyes to completely open. They are able to squirm around but can’t see where they are going. These kits start nursing and start eating meat at 10 weeks old. They learn hunting skills from their mother and stay with her until they are about 10 months old. A female caracal only gives birth to one litter per year because it takes almost a year to raise one litter of kits.

Lifespan

The average lifespan for both female and male caracals is 12 years old in the wild however, caracals kept in the zoo can live up to 17 years this is because they are not threatened by predators, receive food on a daily basis and also get medication when they need it. As a caracal ages in the wild, it can become ill from untreated skin infections and infections due to injuries. Just like domestic cats, a caracal can get rabies from other animals and die.

Diet

Caracals are strictly carnivorous and they prey primarily on birds, rodents and small antelopes. Just like most cats, caracals stalk their prey before pouncing on it. In areas of human settlement, these cats sometimes eat poultry. Caracals sometimes store the remains of their prey in the forks of trees or even in dense bushes, later returning for further feeding. They are supremely acrobatic and can leap agilely into the air to bring down prey.

Facts about caracals

  • Caracals are known on occasion to store their kills in trees, in the manner of leopards and this habit is likely to occur in areas with a high density of hyenas.
  • The caracal is the origin of the expression “put the cat among the pigeons”. In ancient India and Iran, trained caracals were released into arenas containing a flock of pigeons. Wagers were then placed on how many birds the cat would take down in a leap.
  • Though sometimes known as the African lynx due to its short tail, tufted ears and long hind legs, the caracal is now thought to be more closely related to the African golden cats and serval cat than to any members of the lynx genus.
  • Caracals are capable of taking small, domestic livestock and thus suffer heavy persecution from farmers. From 1931 to 1952, an average of 2,219 caracals per year were killed in control operations in South Africa’s Karoo.

Where are caracals found?

Caracals live in woodlands, savannahs and in scrub forests but in Uganda, caracals are only found in Kidepo valley national park.

African Leopards (Panthera pardus)

 

 

 

 

African Leopards (Panthera pardus)

African Leopards (Panthera pardus)  : are one of the most feared but respected animals in the world. In Uganda; it is called Ngo (Luganda tribe) also one of the 52 totems of Buganda, Eris (Iteso tribe) and Engwe (Bakonjo tribe). Leopards are big cats known for their golden, spotted bodies and graceful, yet ferocious hunting techniques. In most parts of Africa, there is a belief that leopards sometimes represent the super natural powers and it is not surprising that most African kings have the leopard skin as part of their seats and the logic is that they share in the invincibility of the giant cat.


There is a belief that sometimes leopards represent a spirit (Musambwa) and therefore whenever a leopard is sighted in an area, people are advised to be careful before attacking it. Some of the leopards might be spirits, a traditional healer for example salongo ssentongo in Luwero, Uganda cautions that such leopards neither attack humans nor domestic animals and instead they are harmless and in some parts of Luwero village, there are leopards that are known by the villagers.
In Western Uganda, it is common to hear people curse others: “Death at the hands of a leopard”. The Makanga of Central Africa believes that witch doctors are capable of turning themselves into leopards before hurting their enemies.

Interesting facts about Leopards

  • Leopards are the most successful and cunning among big cats.
  • The Clouded Leopard has the longest canines amongst cat species.
  • Pound for pound, leopards are the strongest among big cats.
  • Leopards are territorial animals and regularly mark and defend their domain against intruders.
  • Leopards don’t need much water. They survive from the moisture they get from eating their prey.
  • Man eating leopards always operate at night since unlike tigers they never lose their fear of man and only enter human territories in the cover of darkness – according to famous hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett. This makes them very difficult to counteract.

Appearance

Leopards are masters of stealth and extremely difficult to trace and locate in the wild. They are light coloured with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black Leopards, which appear to be almost solid in colour because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.

Diet

Leopards are carnivores, but they aren’t picky eaters. They will prey on any animal that comes across their path, such as Thomson’s gazelles, cheetah cubs, baboons, rodents, monkeys, snakes, large birds, amphibians, fish, antelopes, warthogs and porcupines.

Behavior

The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. Leopards are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young. They are also nocturnal and spend their nights hunting instead of sleeping.

These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass. When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and occasionally people. Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.

Breeding

Female leopards have a gestation period of approximately three months and can typically give birth to a litter of two to three cubs in a den at any time of the year. They usually have two grayish, blind and almost hairless cubs with barely visible spots. Each cub weighs just 17 to 21 ounces (500 to 600 grams) at birth. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. At 12 to 18 months, the cubs are ready to live on their own but still live with their mothers for about two years. When they reach 2 or 3 years old the cubs will create their own offspring. Leopards live 12 to 15 years in the wild and up to 23 years in zoos.

Habitat

They have a preference for wooded or rocky habitats unlike cheetahs and thus can be found in virtually all habitats that offer adequate cover being the most common of Africa’s large felines. African Leopards inhabited a wide range of habitats within Africa from mountainous forests to grasslands and savannas that is to say rain forests, woodlands, grassland savannas, forests, mountain habitats, coastal scrubs, shrub lands and swampy areas excluding only extremely sandy desert. Leopards are generally most active between sunset and sunrise and kill more prey at this time.

Where to find them

They are present in most Uganda National parks and forest reserves but can be seen most regularly in every section in Queen Elizabeth National park on the kisenyi plains in the northern part of the park, they can also be sighted in southern part of the park.

The Standard-winged nightjar

The Standard-winged nightjar

The Standard-winged nightjar : (caprimulgus longipennis) is a nocturnal bird and of the more impressive members of the Caprimulgid family. This true nightjar species breeds in dry savannah habitat of central Africa. It is related to other nightjars in terms of breeding strategies, roosting, feeding habits and vocalizations as well. During the breeding season, the male grows highly- specialized wing feathers nearly to a length of 38 cm, primarily of bare shaft with feather plumes on the end. The feathers are used as part of a flight display to attract female. During the dry seasons, from December through March, they are mostly found along the coast from Liberia to western Cameroon as well as southwestern Uganda. Standard winged nightjars also migrate in order to breed in the northern hemisphere and they winter in Africa primarily in the southern and eastern parts or reaches of the continent. During the summers, their population ranges extend from Scandinavia and Siberia in the north through the northern hemisphere. In Uganda the pearl of Africa this bird can easily be sighted in Murchison falls National Park.

Physical description

Caprimulgus longipennis individuals reach lengths of 26 to 28cm with wingspans of 57 to 64cm. Standard base body color of the species is grey to reddish-brown with complex cryptic overlaid markings of white, black and varying shades of brown. The body shape of nightjars is reminiscent of falcons, with long pointed wings and long tails.  The birds have brown irises, brown legs, deep red mouths and bristles ring their bills. The adult males possess white lower throats, often divided into two distinct patches by a grey or orange- brown vertical stripe. Males have black-barred chests and undulating dark scapular lines. Females appear similar however possess tan tail and wing patches or lack contrasting spots all together. The juvenile birds look very similar to the females but are normally paler along with less contrast on the scapulars and bellies.

Fact: Their nocturnal (night) lifestyle reduces the like hood of being detected by daytime predators. During daytime, they typically sleep on the ground where they are perfectly camouflaged by their “earthy” colored plumage.     

Behavior

Standard winged nightjars are not particularly gregarious and live in pairs during the mating seasons and may migrate in groups of 20 or more. Single sex flocks may occur in Africa during the winter season, caprimulgus longipennis individuals are crepuscular and forage in the dark, even sometimes on overcast days.  Male nightjars are territorial and will defend their breeding territories vigorously, fighting other males in the air or on the ground. During the daytime, when the nightjars are at rest, they usually perch facing into the sun, to minimize their contrasting shadow.  Like other nightjars, the standard-winged nightjar feeds on insects in flight, the huge gape opening wide for moths and beetles that usually fly at dusk often at sundown. Towards breeding, no nest is made and the two elongated and elliptical eggs are placed upon the bare ground. Their cryptic appearance blends perfectly into their habitant and during the daytime, they are usually hidden away sleeping and are easily detected at night when light from car headlights are reflected ruby-red from their eyes, as they are sitting on tracks or roads. Their presence is most often made known by their loud calls that given out at dusk. 

Reproduction

The standard winged nightjars are bigamous implying they will take on more than a single mate and they breed between May and September. One male and one female form a bond lasting one year and the pair will raise one or two broods. Occasionally pairs may split, and the female may raise another brood fathered by a different male. Some reports tell of an extra male occasionally aiding a male-female pair in raising young. Nightjars don’t actually construct nests just like how the other bird species do but instead they simply place the eggs on the ground on open soil covered with dead leaves. After establishing his breeding territory, he then attracts the attention of females with an insect-like song and he performs a display flight whereby receptive females will join in.  In a small, unlined scrape on the ground female Standard winged nightjars lay 2 to 4 (mostly two) reddish creamy/ pinkish in color smooth elliptical white eggs marked with brown spots or blotched irregularly. The female then incubates the eggs for 17 to 18 days however her mate will take short shifts while she leaves to feed at dawn and dusk.  Here Females are primary incubators, even though the male may care for the first young alone for a time especially when the female commits to producing a second brood. The hatchlings are covered in down and are capable of short-distance movements within 24 hours of hatching and they normally move apart shortly after hatching, maybe to make it more difficult for predators to spot them however parents also shove them apart with their feet as they flush from the nest and usually the male stands, guards and defends the nest and the young. He will hover in place near the nest with his body in about a vertical position with his tail spread and the adults communicate with their young via soft clucking sounds to which the chicks respond to. Only if conditions are favorable, the female will sometimes lay a second clutch close to the first clutch and while she is incubating the new set of eggs, she leaves her first brood with her mate when the chicks are about 14 days old to rear her second brood. Standard winged nightjars are always mature and ready to breed approximately at the age of one year.

Fact:  If an intruder does get close to the nest, the parents may try to lead them away by first flushing off the nest and when landing feigning injury as they lead the potential threat away from the nest and while the parent performs this distraction display, the young may scatter and freeze.

Communication

Standard winged nightjars use a wide variety of sounds to communicate but with a common one being a titititititit…Vociferous males utter out long “churring” vocalizations from perches within their territories, sometimes calling for 10 minutes continuously. Both males and females produce repeated sharp “qoik-qoik” notes as contact calls. At the nest male and female birds make a grunting “wuff”. When the male approaches the nest, he often produces a burbling trill. Agitated birds hiss and babies beg for food with an insistent “bruh-bruh”. Standard winged nightjars frequently clap their wings together as well as combining acoustic and visual elements of display. This wing clapping probably serves a number of purposes and is a form of communication generally directed to other individuals. Various flight patterns and ground behaviors that are used to distract intimidate, or attract other birds. This species is also notable for feigning injury both in the air and on the ground and for their wing clapping behavior. They open their wings and slap them together behind their backs thus creating a smacking noise. Wing clapping is also used in greeting, intimidation, defense and courtship displays. During courtship, the male bird glides about with his wings in a V-shape, frequently clapping them together. When a female alights on the ground, the male lands facing her and they sway in tandem. When the female ceases swaying, the male bobs up and down, opens his wings and spasms his tail momentarily before the beginning of copulation and once a pair has formed, the two individuals roost together.

Feeding

Standard-winged nightjars are crepuscular and nocturnal insectivores. They catch flying insects in their wide mouths with the aid of short bills and surrounding rectal bristles. Some common prey organisms include moths beetles, mayflies, dragonflies, cockroaches, butterflies and occasionally spiders. 

The Bat cave in Maramagambo forest

 

 

 

The Bat cave in Maramagambo forest

The Bat cave in Maramagambo forest : is a walk through the trails of this magnificent forest, you will have a great experience to the Bat Caves that are tucked in the Maramagambo forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Maramagambo forest is an extensive tropical rainforest which lies in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park in the far west Uganda in Bushenyi district. The word “Maramagambo” is in a local Runyankole word which means “short of words” and it was derived from the two young children of the tender age who got lost in the forest for a couple of days trying to look for their way out but in vain and when they were saved from the forest, they couldn’t speak what really happened to them and the locals ended up naming it Maramagambo.   It is a perfect destination for hiking and nature walk safaris in addition to exploring the bat caves and crater lakes that are nestled in the forest.  The forest inhabits various species of mammals, primates, birds and also famously linked with its bat caves where tourists come all away from other countries to visit these bats in this forest.

The bat cave is also associated with the python which is normally sighted around this bat cave as it tries to feed on these bats. In addition, tourists and visitors can as well do a lot of several other activities including hiking, bird watching and the cultural community experience of the Nyanz’ibiri community. This is an interesting and an outstanding cave, not like other normal caves one has ever seen nor heard and this cave is near the picturesque blue lake and hunter’s cave. Millions of bats do occupy and in habit this cave, pythons are also observed in the crevices of the bats cave floor and usually prey on these bats. In addition, besides the bat cave experience, one can have a chance to hike through the forest expecting have glimpse on different primate species like chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, red tailed monkeys, pottos, bushbabies, black and white colobus[, baboons, vervet monkeys as well as the blue monkeys. Alongside watching primates, one can also view a variety of bird species such as the Rwenzori turacos, white napped pigeons, flycatchers, sunbirds, bee eaters to mention a few while hiking to the caves.  You will also enjoy the over view of the mysterious bat cave from the view point that was constructed for all tourists after the 2008 incident where some tourists contracted the Marburg virus when they had gone inside this Cave. Consequently, the caves were closed or sealed from human encounter but after a period of time, the ministry of tourism re-opened them however the park in cooperation with the American center for disease control set up a safe viewing platform outside of the cave where thousands of bats can be seen without any fear of contacting the Marburg virus and to avoid any strategies.

Getting there

The Maramagambo forest can easily be accessed by whether road or air transport from Kampala city through Mbarara to Bushenyi which is a 5- 6 hours’ drive. The best access to the forest is through the Queen Elizabeth National Park gate close to Jakana Lodge and it is 12km off the main road from katunguru to Mbarara. Alternatively, you can fly from Entebbe International Airport to Mweya Airstrip nestled near Queen Elizabeth National Park via a charter flight.

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda : located in Bunyaruguru County in Rubirizi District whose name apparently means swallow and this has been a source of odd stories. It is a place of mystery, with a history that goes back to tales shared around campfires by the locals in the villages that surround it. The boundaries of Lake Nkugute seen from a hill that borders the lake look similar to the map of Africa. In the past, the lake used to be surrounded by a very thick forest, but it was destroyed during the construction of the Mbarara-Kasese highway and presently, the lake is surrounded by banana plantations, tilled land as well as pine and mahogany trees. Behind the beauty are strange and supernatural stories and according to locals, it’s the deepest lake in Africa with some shadowy reaches that have eluded western scientists but there is no proof to this claim.

How it was formed

Nkugute is a crater lake which was formed as a result of volcanic activity in the Bunyaruguru volcanic field and the eruption in this field is more than 12,000 years and this is evidenced by the existence of hot springs within its vicinity such as Kitagata hot spring. The lake is said to have derived its name from its violent nature and insatiable appetite for humans. “Nkugute” is a Runyaruguru word that means “swallow” and tales in this area are that Lake Nkugute used to swallow two children, a boy and a girl, annually.

Mysterious tales about the lake

The lake’s name literally translates to “swallow” for it’s said that every year, one boy and one girl disappear beneath its waters, and if anyone notices and tries to help, they’re “swallowed” too. It’s also said that anyone walking past the lake alone after dark will be accosted by the Bachwezi people. The Bachwezi are a near-mythical culture, sometimes said to have been extra-terrestrial, who ruled the region for over 10,000 years and were worshiped as demi-gods. Every year, the lake would swallow a male and female child and no one would predict when this was going to happen. People who came to wash from the lake’s shore would at times forget to pay attention to their children who enjoyed swimming from the lake and before they knew it, one of the children would be seen helplessly screaming while being “swallowed” by the lake. Those who attempted to rescue the drowning child would sometimes also be “swallowed”. So the crater lake came to be known as Nkugute in reference to that behaviour.”

Previous residents
Before these changes occurred, the lake was home to the Bachwezi and a lot of mysterious things happened to justify this. For example, after 10pm, anyone who walked past the lake would be stopped by very tall, dark skinned and strange people who would beat him/her up or take and abandon that person in any of the forests in the area. “The locals who encountered these Bachwezi narrated that they would be found grazing long horned cattle. They would accuse the locals whom they punished for stealing their cattle. However, they would only attack those who would be walking alone because it was not possible to see them or be attacked when walking in a group. The lake had a caretaker called Omuzumira Komurusozi, who was responsible for performing rituals to appease the gods of the lake but whenever these rituals delayed, the lake would turn violent.

Reports of people drowning under unclear circumstances would be popular; it is then that people would seek the intervention of the caretaker to perform the rituals. The rituals involved slaughtering a goat and a sheep whose heads were dumped in the lake. However, following the prominence of religion in the area, people abandoned engaging in the rituals. Nkugute is now a major source of water for domestic use in Rubirizi. A dam was constructed at the boundary of the lake, which looks like the horn of Africa, to supply water around the district. A sign post can be seen at the shore of the lake cautioning members of the public against unauthorized access to the lake. Fishing on the lake is not popular which is attributed to lack of fish in the lake.

How it can benefit from tourists
The Lake is a popular destination for tourists though the locals have meagrely benefitted from the industry. Tourists who come around just take pictures of the place and leave. This is blamed on the absence of hotels or nice places of accommodation around the lake. Its also believed that if people could invest in hotels or a beach put up within the lake’s proximity, the locals could benefit from the tourism industry.

The Sitatunga Antelope

 

 

 

The Sitatunga Antelope

The Sitatunga Antelope: or Marsh buck (Tragelaphus spekii) is a rare swamp-dwelling antelope that can be found in many countries of central Africa but is rarely seen due to its elusive behavior. The sitatunga is confirmed to marshy and swampy habitats and they occur in tall and dense vegetation as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in the forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps. They spend the hottest parts of the day resting in the shade of reeds on platforms of dried plants, which they build themselves by circling and trampling on vegetation.

Physical description

Sitatunga have slightly hunched appearance, with hind legs growing longer than the forequarters. Adult males have impressive spiraled horns that will be ivory tipped when fully developed. According to color, males are traditionally chocolate or grey-brown while females are brown to bright chestnut. Adults have a longer coat and white markings on the body, face, legs, ears and feet while juveniles will have a woollier coat with white spots as well as stripes on a bright reddish-brown coat. The sitatunga are also distinguished by their long, splayed hooves which make them clumsy and vulnerable on firm terrain but well-adapted for walking through muddy, vegetated swamplands. Males are considerably larger than females and have long, twisting horns and their splayed feet make them accomplished swimmers. Both sexes have a white band between the eyes, and white spots on the cheeks. They also have two distinct white patches on the body, one above the chest and one on the throat, below the chin and the tail is black tipped, brown above and white below.

Behavior

Sitatunga are most active at dawn and dusk, but can be active in both day and night. They feed upon bulrushes, sedges and leaves of bushes, sometimes venturing out of the swamp to gaze on grasses in riverine forests. They are known to be Africa’s only true amphibious antelopes with many adaptations to their aquatic habitat such as waterproofing oil on their coat and elongated, splayed hooves for walking on soft soil. They use tunneled pathways through tall reeds and papyrus to navigate through the swamps. They use regular, tunneled pathways through papyrus and tall reed as a swamp provides a year-round supply of rich food, they have exceptionally small home ranges. Sitatunga are also known to be strong but slow swimmers capable of paddling several miles; usually half-submerged, they can dive deeper if in danger staying hidden with only part of the head out of the water. They will rest only on dry mounds or floating islands in the swamp, turning circles on the spot until the grass is trampled into a springy mat. Although they are said to be solitary animals, pairs associate for short periods of mate for mating and small temporary mixed groups are occasionally formed. The young are born on a dry, trampled mat in the swamp and lie out for a month with only short visits from their mother for suckling. The ties between mother and young ones do not last for long and half-grown sitatungas are often on their own and are seen foraging alone. They usually graze on their own though they may also group in male or female pairs, bachelor groups of 3 or 4, or family groups of 5 to 15 members which will comprise one bull, multiple ewes and juveniles.

Size

Sitatunga grow to 57 inches (115 centimeters) in length for females and 63 inches (160 centimeters) for males. Adult individuals can weigh between 110 and 775 pounds approximately 50 to 125 kilograms.

Breeding

Sitatunga can breed throughout the year although a weak breeding peak is noticeable. They have a gestation period of 220days and calves lie up on trampled reed platforms or even in dense undergrowth for several weeks. A home range for these sitatungas is generally very small and this is due to the prolific and permanent food supply available.

Habitat

They have small home ranges due to the abundance of food within their swamp habitat. Sitatunga form paths through reeds, papyrus, phragmites and Typha, and will create platforms of vegetation by repeatedly circling and trampling reeds and grass. They are excellent swimmers, able to move slowly through water for several miles, and will dive deep enough to submerge their entire body when escaping or even hiding from predators with only their nose exposed at the surface.

Feeding

Sitatunga graze on young papyrus and reed shoots for the bulk of their diet as they spend the majority of their time in water. They forge both in the swamp and land. They also feed on buds, seeds, flowers, tall grasses and other foliage for nourishment as well as occasionally feeding on elephant dung in order to receive nutrition from undigested seeds. Sitatunga may stand on their hind legs to reach higher vegetation, more so male have been known for using their horns to break off branches for food. They have also been spotted grazing on crops at night.

Reproduction

They breed throughout the year, with females producing single calf after a gestation period of 7 months. The calf will weigh approximately 4 kilograms (8 to 9) pounds at birth, and potentially double in weight during the first month. After the calf is born, the female hides it on a vegetation platform secluded in dry reeds, and in deep water for protection. These calves always stay with their mothers for a number of months in order to learn how to navigate the swamp safely. Sexual maturity is at 1 year for females and approximately 2 years for male.

Facts about sitatunga

Here are a few of the most fascinating facts about this type of antelope;

Banana like shaped hooves

Sitatunga have bizarrely shaped hooves that some people say look like bananas. Their hooves are split into two sections that splay out from each other. This lets sitatunga walk through muddy regions without sinking in and they barely make any noise while walking in water.

Mostly live-in swamps

This makes them so unique because they live to live in swampy, marshy areas with thick grass, reed beds and mangrove trees. They make trails through swamps that normally lead to clusters of reeds where they can sleep. Sitatunga generally live in the swamps of south eastern Africa, in Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Angola, Ghana and Kenya. You can also find them on and around the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria.

Distinctive markings on the coats

Sitatunga are reddish or greyish brown color with short, coarse fur. They have patterns of vertical white stripes and spots along their body, and their legs, throat, cheeks and forehead also have white patches. Male sitatunga has also got a white stripe that goes down the middle of their back.

Same family as cows

Sitatunga are technically part of the Bovidae family. They are in the Tragelaphus genus and their technical scientific name is Tragelaphus spekii. These sitatunga get their name from John Hanning Speke, the English explorer who described them in 1863. Unlike cows, sitatunga have never been domesticated.

Unusual leg length

These animals look like they are always hunched over because their rear legs are actually much longer than their front legs. This strange placement helps them to balance better in marshy areas. Their pasterns, which are the part of the leg above the hoof, are actually flexibly. This unusual leg construction makes it easy for sitatunga to run on damp surfaces.

Great swimmers

Sitatunga are one of the best swimmers among antelope species. They mostly entirely submerge themselves, so all you can see is the sitatunga nose and eyes poking out of the water. Sitatunga typically swim to cool off, escape flies, or even travel to other regions of the marsh. However, they have to be careful to avoid areas of open water that might contain crocodiles.

Where to find them

Sitatunga reside in swamps, savannas, forests and in Uganda you can spot them in Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Bigodi wetland sanctuary, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Ssese Island among others.

Africa’s amazing waterfalls

 

 

Africa’s amazing waterfalls

Africa’s amazing waterfalls : Africa is not only renowned and famous for its breathtaking scenery and some amazing wildlife, but also waterfalls, which symbolize life for the African people. Water is life and nothing depicts this more than an African waterfall, in a full flow at the peak of the season! With its interminable water flow, dropping down multiple levels and throwing up glorious spray. The spray acts like continual rain creating abundant life and drawing tourists from across the world to marvel at its wonders. It’s hard for people not to look at a waterfall and feel inspired by its mesmerizing power and beauty. A river carving its way through the earth then flowing out with a high volume, thunderous roar over its peak before dropping down, continuing on its determined path. Here we explore Africa’s most Amazing waterfalls to help you include them on you’re to do list in Africa.

MURCHISON FALLS – UGANDA

Four of the Big 5 roam about and sip at the edge of the Victoria Nile whose waters eventually burst through a narrow rock face in a powerful torrent and drop down a steep cliff before reaching the bottom in a foamy fury. Welcome to Murchison Falls also known as the World’s Greatest Waterfall. Delta cruises along papyrus-lined waterways are the highlights of the trip whether seen from the top of the falls or the Devil’s Cauldron, its intimidating base Murchison Falls Promises striking vistas from whichever vantage point.

Murchison Falls Facts

  • Murchison falls was named by the explorer Sir Samuel Baker in 1864 after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society.
  • Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother Visited Murchison Falls national park in 1959 when she stayed in the queen’s cottage at Paraa and where she cruised upriver to view the falls.
  • Murchison falls pours over the fading escarpment at the northernmost tip Africa’s Western Rift Valley, a 3000km tectonic trench that has opened up between Lake Malawi and northern Uganda during the last twelve million years.

VICTORIA FALLS-ZIMBABWE / ZAMBIA BORDER

This is one of the seven Natural Wonders of the world, a UNESCO world heritage site and a tourism hub for the region. It’s on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia in the heart of Southern Africa, and attracting millions of tourists from around the globe to marvel in its sheer volume. Victoria Falls has the largest volume of falling water, with over 5 million cubic meters of water dropping over every minute in peak season and this has earned it the title of the World’s Largest Waterfall.

Victoria Falls Facts

  • The falls have a Width of 1708 meter
  • The falls are 108 meters high
  • They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
  • On these falls, Water flows always even in the drought.
  • The falls border between 2 countries and consequently, it is a tourism hotspot for tourists.

TUGELA FALLS – SOUTH AFRICA

This is Africa’s tallest waterfall, flowing from the lofty heights of the renowned Drakensberg Mountains.The world’s 10th largest uninterrupted water drop at a staggering 411 meters. Located on the Tugela River in South Africa’s Royal Natal National Park, Popular for tourism. During the winter season the upper Tugela has been known to freeze, not a common sight in sunny Africa and attracting many people to hike up its side on numerous trails to the frozen peak!  With its narrow width the water flow can be seasonal, and in some years of drought, may dry up entirely. However in peak season, a large volume of water flow drops down its peak, throwing up an impressive spray for people to see.

Tugela Waterfalls Facts

  • With a total water drop of 948 meters over 5 levels it is one of the world’s tallest Waterfalls. Narrow width of only 15 meters in peak season.
  • A tourism hotspot popular local people and tourists with hiking trails up the side from spray to peak.
  • The upper falls of the Tugela has been known to freeze during the winter months.
  • A waterfall falling out of the clouds.
  • Waterfall consists of 5 levels, including Africa’s longest uninterrupted drop of flowing water at 411m.

KONGOU FALLS – GABON

By far Africa’s largest waterfall by width, and to some people, the world’s widest! This flow width creates a large volume of water that has a drop of only 56 meters, but is considered one of the world’s most powerful water flows. The level of flow does drop, particularly in period of drought, but never dries up. During peak season there is a high volume of water flow throwing up a drenching spray for people to see and great for the tourism sector.

Konguo Falls Facts

  • The falls bear a width of 3200 meters.
  • Popular with people for featuring in the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Tarzan”
  • It is one of the more remote waterfall destinations in Africa, but well worth the travel.
  • It is considered by some as the original Garden of Eden due to their top most powerful water flows.

KALAMBO FALLS – TANZANIA / ZAMBIA BORDER

Kalambo Falls – Tanzania/ Zambia Border is the second highest, uninterrupted falls in Africa. Found along the Kalambo River which forms the border of Tanzania and Zambia, before flowing into the world renowned Lake Tanganyika. Being one of the most remote waterfalls in Africa, people must first enjoy a 3-4 hour hike up the side of the side of the falls. A mixture of steep gorge and lush plateaus, amongst the spray of the flowing water.

Not for the faint hearted, but well worth the effort!

Kalambo Falls Facts

  • Single, uninterrupted 235 meter (772 feet) drop of water.
  • Width of only 1.8-3 meters
  • Ranks 12 thin the world for the tallest waterfall.
  • It is one of the most important archeological sites in the whole of Africa
  • People living around the falls date back over 250,000 years ago.

OUZOUD FALLS – MORROCCO

These are considered by the local people as one of the most beautiful and romantic of all the world’s waterfalls. Falling over the side of the Atlas Mountains along the El-Abid River before dropping 110 meters down its rugged cliffs. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole region, offering easy access for people. Travel by through the Atlas Mountains, followed by a mild walk along well used paths along the side of the falls to the edge. Behold the breathtaking beauty and thunderous roars of the mighty falls and the spray it produces, teeming with a large volume of indigenous wildlife, including the Barbary apes.

Ouzoud Falls Facts

  • At 110 meters (330 feet), are the tallest falls in North Africa. Width of 90m during peak seasons.
  • Considered by a number of people as one of the most beautiful and romantic falls in the world.
  • They offer a direct an easy access for tourism with mild hikes to the lip and refreshing swims in the natural pools below the falls.
  • Renowned for its close encounters with resident troops of indigenous monkeys that comfortably call the waterfalls home.

LUMANGWE FALLS – ZAMBIA

Located along the Kalungwishi River in Zambia. During the peak season, it is far the country’s largest waterfall. Other waterfalls are bigger but they form the border with neighboring countries. People often confuse this fall with Victoria Falls due to its sheer volume, large curtain of water flow and saturating spray, even during periods of drought.   Surrounded on either side by lush, dense bush, this is a perfect trip for people interested in nature tourism. While tourist infrastructure is somewhat lacking it is well worth the visit.

Lumangwe Falls Facts

  • 30 – 40 meter waterfall with a width of over 160 meters making it one of the largest.
  • Often confused with the mighty Victoria Falls, due to its volume of the water flow.
  • One of the least visited falls by people, ensuring a much more personal and private experience.
  • Tourist accommodation available within the falls complex with the continual thunderous roar.

OWA FALLS – NIGERIA

Considered the tallest fall of water in the whole of West Africa falling down 5 distinct levels over its rocky sides flowing into an ice cool pool of water at the bottom. A number of people consider these falls one of the most naturally beautiful waterfalls in the region, and a major tourist attraction for the area. During the peak seasons, with a high water flow the spray is at its best. Due to the dense bushes on both sides and the height from which the water drops, it’s the volume of its roar which can be experienced first, usually from a quite distance away. These falls offer an incredible natural ambience for nature tourism since the dense vegetation along both sides of the waterfalls harbor a variety of indigenous wildlife. While the area has a lot to offer for nature lovers, the cold water which categorizes these waterfalls even during months of drought.

Owa Falls Facts

  • They are Nigeria’s highest waterfalls with 120 meters, with the water flow over a fairly narrow width.
  • It was Nicknamed “Wonder in the Wilderness” by the local people.
  • It has got only one route in and out with limited tourism infrastructure.
  • It requires some hiking along the side of the falls through the dense rainforest, so hiking shoes are a must.
  • A major tourist attraction is swimming in the ice cold pools under the falling and rasping water.

WLI WATERFALLS – GHANA

It is proved to be the largest waterfall in the West Africa and certainly the largest in Ghana. It has two distinct levels, an upper fall and a lower fall. Referred to by the local people as “Agumatsa Falls” meaning “Let me follow”. A popular tourist site near the Togo border offering two different experiences between its easier to get to lower falls, and it’s more difficult hike up the side to the upper falls. Crystal clear pools flowing pools grace the bottom of each falls, inviting people to cool off. Peak season, when the water flow is at its highest volume it is always between April- October. Surrounded on all sides by dense rainforest, teeming with wildlife, including the unique presence of thousands of fruit bats nesting in the nearby cliffs.

Wli Falls Facts

  • It is Ghana’s highest water drop of 80 meters over 2 distinct levels.
  • It is narrow in the width with a continual fine spray creating lush rain forest up its side.
  • Major tourist attraction in the area is standing tall amongst exquisite mountainous landscapes with a diversity of wildlife.
  • It has two peculiar levels namely the lower and upper falls where the lower falls are the easy access for tourism while the Upper falls require hiking to the top or peak, all in all worth the effort for people looking for some adventure.

BLUE NILE – ETHIOPIA

 

It is located on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and known to the local people as “Tis Abay”, meaning “great smoke”. A reference to the incredible spray thrown up by the flowing water. One of the many reasons as to why the Blue Nile falls in one of Ethiopia’s major tourist attractions. A seasonal falls with low water flow in periods of drought, changing dramatically in peak seasons to a torrential water flow of over 400 meters in width. Not only is the evolution of endemic species, only found in this area.

Blue Nile Falls Facts

  • The falls have a 52 meter water drop, but with a whopping 400 meter width during peak seasons
  • The falls are an easy access for tourism with a variety of nearby tourist facilities for people to choose.
  • They have a unique ecosystem thriving on its sides, fed by its continual spray and home to species found nowhere in the world.

LOFOI FALLS – DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

It is one of Central Africa’s largest waterfalls, with an unbroken water drop of 340 meters from its peak. A popular adventure tourist destination, allowing people to camp at the peak of the waterfall enjoying some spectacular views while taking in the sheer volume of nature around you. Water flow is seasonal, with high levels especially during the peak season, throwing up a dense spray creating a lifetime adventure.

Lofoi Falls Facts

  • They are narrow in width however substantial in height with a 340m undisturbed water drop.
  • The falls are harbored between 2 National Parks and a nature tourist dream teaming with life.
  • Dense rainforest up its sides offering with established tourism hikes and swims in its crystal clear pools.
  • Unique opportunity for people to camp at the peak.
  • The falls have large volume of water flow especially during peak seasons, reduced water flow specifically in the drought periods.

The Black- and- White -casqued hornbill

 

The Black- and- White -casqued hornbill

The Black-and-White-casqued hornbill : also known as the Grey-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus) are fairly large and mainly black hornbills with white lower backs and rumps, upper and under tail-covers, thighs, bellies and vents. The central pair of the flight feathers on the tail is all black (rectrices), while the rest of the tail feathers are basically black and extensively white distally. The secondaries and inner primaries are mostly white with bases being black. The bird has a Grey-tipped facial feathering, which derives its other common name “Grey-cheeked Hornbills”. Movements and dispersion of these hornbills vary seasonally and this species is also diurnal and usually travel in pairs or small groups.

Physical description

It is recognized by its black plumage for the higher body and wings alongside and white plumage on the lower body and wings with black feathers amongst the white feathers of the tail, specifically the top tail feathers. It has a broad creamy-brownish bill and flattened casque, which are enlarged in males. Males have red eyes, blackish facial skin and a dark brown bill with a high ridged, laterally flattened casque.   Females have pink facial skin and brown eyes and have much smaller all-blackish bills, the casque is decreased to a lower rounded ridge on the basal upper mandible. In males, the purpose of the casque is not clearly known although it is suggested to be for sexual characterization. The species has mobile eyes something not common in birds meaning that their eyes move themselves in their socket whilst other birds have to move their heads to see around. The bird is also capable of displaying emotions through the feathers at the top of the head, which allows it to communicate out its emotional state. Juveniles emerging from the nest have small bills lacking casques. Birds less than a year of age have brown feathers on the forehead and around the base of the bill. Sub adults have a high degree of vascularization in the area of the future casqued. The facial feathers turn from brown to grey by the age of 10 months

FACT: Black-and-white-casqued hornbills have fused vertebrae in the neck and strong muscles to support the weight of their bills and casque.

Feeding

The black-and-white-casqued hornbills are mainly frugivorous, with fruit comprising 90% of their diet, 56% belonging to Ficus species. They forage by hopping from one branch to another in the forests reaching out for fruits with its tip of the bill which they then swallow wholly. They are also frequently seen foraging alongside monkeys and squirrels and the bird is well known to consume over 41 plant species in general. In addition, the species also consumes other bird’s eggs, insects, bats, snails, mollusks, lizards and other small animals. Mosses, fungi and lichens are also comprised in their diet. In this species, the carnivorous component of the diet is increased during the breeding period. The bird does not consume water directly and seems to instead hydrate itself from the water contained in the fruits that represent most of its diet. During the dry season, this species does not nest, they are nomadic, sometimes travelling over 6km to visit fruiting trees.

Reproduction

Black-and-white-casqued hornbills are monogamous (having one mate at a time) and they breed seasonally from January to May in Central Africa and August to March in eastern Africa. Their breeding season coincides with local rainy seasons, so that they can take advantage of the abundance of fruit and arthropods at this time. Black-and-white-casqued hornbill individuals nest in naturally formed cavities 9 to 30m high in large forest trees. Due to the rarity of the nesting cavities, there is an increased degree of intraspecific competition for nesting sites. As a way of protecting their nests, pairs plaster and seal the cavity or nest-hole with mud pellets collected by the male so that only a slit was left. The female do most of the work. All the material is brought to her by the male. When nesting, the birds keep the material in the tips of their bills and make rapid sideways vibrating movements of their bills. Inside, the female lays a clutch of 2 eggs, which are white in color with pitted shells. The eggs are incubated for 42 days while the male delivers food to the female hourly through a small slit, regurgitating numerous fruits, mammals and insects and the male can bring up to 200 fruits per visit. Normally only one offspring is reared, with the chick from the second laid egg dying of starvation. Newly hatched chicks have pink skins and open their eyes at the age of approximately 20 days. The offspring fledge at the age of nearly 70 to 79 days and can feed themselves by 40 to 72 days after fledging. During breeding, pairs actively defend their nesting trees. They make continuous and repetitive “long-calls” and “high-pitched screams” whilst perched on tree tops.

Communication

The black-and-white-casqued hornbills are absolutely vocal, with a large collection of calls one of which can be heard from a distance of 2km. They make repetitive “long-calls” and “high-pitched screams” while perched at tree tops. It is theorized that the casque on the bill of this species acts as a vibrating chamber to make their voice sound more powerful.

Where to find them

The black-and-white casqued hornbill is found mostly in Ivory-Coast, with smaller populations in its surrounding countries for West-African populations. The Central-African populations are mostly in Uganda and Kenya as well as Cameron with smaller populations in Gabon, Tanzania and Central Africa.

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0. 1

 

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0. 1

Kasubi Tombs ranks N0.1 : nestled on Kasubi hill in Buganda kingdom which is located in the central region of the country Uganda. They occupy a 27 hectare site that has been used by the Buganda for its Royal Tombs since the 13 century and represents the spiritual heart of the Buganda people. It is the site of the burial grounds for four kings (kabakas) of Buganda and some members of the Buganda royal family. Therefore, the site remains an important spiritual and political site for the Ganda people and also an important example of traditional architecture. The tombs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2001 when it was described as “one of the most remarkable buildings using purely vegetal materials in the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa. BBC has ranked Uganda’s Kasubi Tombs as Africa’s NO.1 iconic architectural building.

 

Why Kasubi Tombs ranks

It was predominantly built from wood & other organic materials and the interior is designed to replicate a sacred forest and is topped with 52 circular wings to represent each of the 52 Buganda clans. Most of the site is agricultural farmed by traditional methods. At its core on the hilltop is the former place of the kabakas of the Buganda, built in 1882 and converted into the royal burial ground in 1884. Four royal tombs now lie within the “Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga” meaning “A tough one brings forth powerful ones” the main building which is circular and surmounted by a dime. The palace was originally built by Ssekabaka king Suuna II in 1820 and was rebuilt in 1882 by his son Ssekabaka Muteesa I. It is a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials, thatch, reed, principally wood, wattle and daub. The site’s main significance lies however in its intangible values of belief, continuity, spirituality and more so identity.

The thatching of the roofs at Kasubi tombs

The thatching technique at the Kasubi tombs is quite unique and can hardly be compared to another African or even a European thatching technique. The grass is prepared in conical bundles which are simply laid onto the roof structure without being tired, expect for the first layers at the bottom and when one of these bundles is rotten, it can simply be pulled out and replaced. This is such an interesting technique and it makes the huge maintenance task of the thatched roofs much easier. This activity at the tombs is carried out by the members of the Ngeye clan (black and white colobus), who are the only people allowed to do the work. The thatching skills are passed down from the elders of the clan to younger members during an apprenticeships. The practice is still alive with younger members of the clan coming up voluntarily to take on this important responsibility at the site. Special customs are observed when fixing the roof for example widows are not allowed to enter the building when it is being thatched because it is believed that their presence would cause leakage and pregnant women are also not allowed inside the building during the renovation. In addition, thatcher’s are not supposed to have sexual intercourse during the thatching period and the same custom is observed by the decorators of the poles, who belong to the leopard (Ngo) clan. Kabaka tombs are very important to the Buganda kingdom and the country at large because it’s a rare shrine where the four Buganda kings were buried; Kabaka Muteesa I, Kabaka Mwanga II, Kabaka Daudi Chwa II and Kabaka Muteesa II. Other members of the royal family including the mothers, grandmothers, princes, princesses were also buried here thus acting as the living testimony of the Ganda traditions which attracts both religious and cultural tourists.

Reconstruction of the Kasubi Tombs

A few major buildings were almost completely destroyed by fire in March 2010 and the cause of this is still under investigation. Consequently, in July 2010, it was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The Buganda kingdom has vowed to rebuild the tombs of their Kings and the president of Uganda (HE. Yoweri Kagutta Museveni) said that the national government of Uganda would assist in the restoration of the site. The reconstruction of the site started in 2014, funded by the government of Japan. Baganda kabakas have always built their palaces on hills where every new king has a right to choose a hill on which to build his palace as well as renaming it. This action was to control the major routes to the palace in order to find easy ways to escape just in case of a rebellion and when the Kabakas died, the traditional practice was to bury each Kabaka at a separate site to put up a royal shrine to house his jaw bone which was believed to contain his spirit in the afterlife. At Kasubi tombs there is an area behind a bark cloth curtain known as “Kibira” (a forest) where secret ceremonies are conducted and the area where the real Kabaka tombs are built. In front of the curtain there are raised platforms corresponding to the position of each Kabaka’s tomb. Historically, Kabaka Muteesa I was the first king to be buried at Kasubi and he was the 35th king in the Buganda kingdom. Only widows of the Kabakas have access to the sacred forest.

Anthropological dimensions

The physical features of the Kasubi tombs represent only a portion of the traditional life there. The tombs and the whole site environment carry strong spiritual and social significance while the architecture itself carries meaning related to the Ganda traditions. The rich decorative features, invested with spiritual values reflect the interaction between nature and culture between the spirits and the living people for example is it the fifty two rings of spear supporting the great roof and their number related to the fifty two Ganda clans. Apart from the royal burials, a number of traditional rituals are carried out throughout the year. These include the new moon ceremony and the consultation of the mediums. But the main spiritual life is not visible to the ordinary visitor as many ceremonies are performed secretly inside the buildings. This aspect of the Ganda tradition is well known by the population and it is still respected. The Baganda observe the myths concerning the origins of the death and people believe that every person’s death has a spiritual origin. At Kasubi tombs, when a king or a member of the royal family dies, they immediately enthrone a successor after the burial and perform rituals to appease the spirits. Animals are sacrificed and gifts of various kinds such as money are deposited in the numerous shrines.  The tombs are also visited by a wide range of Baganda medicine men and women who consult the king’s spirits to obtain blessings in their trade.

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls”

 

 

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls”

Sipi falls “The three waterfalls” : is the most incredible and wonderful waterfall in the eastern part of Uganda, Kapchorwa district in the northeast of Mbale and Sironko. It is approximately 276 kilometers from Kampala, capital of Uganda. The glorious falls were named after the Sipi River which in turn was named after a locally grown plant called Sep, an indigenous plant to the banks of the river. This green plant resembles a wild banana and it is found with a bolt of crimson rib used for medicinal purposes by the local people as it’s believed to treat fever and measles. Local folklore has it that British sightseers once found a lady picking wild plants in a nearby plantation and asked her the name of the falls. She thought they were asking the name of the plant so she replied, “Sep”. The falls originate from the hot springs that flow on Sipi River, one of the rivers flowing on Mount Elgon to the bottom pouring from a high cliff creating a series of rapids flowing to Lake Kyoga. Sipi falls is encompassed of three waterfalls each flowing from a different altitude that lies on the foothills of Mount Elgon and near the borders of Kenya and Uganda which submits beautiful and stunning views of Mount Elgon National Park. The main or highest fall drops from an altitude of 100 meters, second at 85 meters and third at 75 meters and hiking up to the top of the falls will give you tremendous and beautiful scenic views of the Karamoja plains, Coffee plantations, Lake Kyoga, Mount Elgon and the surrounding areas.

There is an artificial cave designed behind the waterfalls close to the bottom and these caves propose incredible experience where you can sit silently in the shadow of the pouring falls which are more like a curtain to the cave. While here, you will enjoy the cool breeze and eye-catching views while taking pictures. The climate in this area is cool since it’s a hilly area and sometimes as tourists are hiking there are rains which makes hiking a bit hard but its also an adventure of its own. Sipi falls is basically a place available for loosening up, chilling and relaxing from the congestion around cities. The nearby communities have welcoming and hospitable people and they are majorly the Sabiny and the Bagishu. These tribes live around this area and also practice farming such as growing of the Arabica coffee which is the major cash crop in this area. This coffee is grown on altitudes between 1600 metres and 1900 metres above sea level. Coffee tours are organized through guides with knowledge of coffee farming, processing and roasting. Profits from this activity go towards community projects. 

Activities done around Sipi falls

Hiking Sipi falls

This activity is a very good option for tourists who go to Sipi falls. While here, you can pick from numerous popular waterfalls walks which are both simple and difficult because you will spend sometime while hiking to the top of the three falls. However, the cool breeze of the Sipi falls and the out-standing views will offer a lot of comfort.

Bird watching

Mount Elgon is a home to over 280 bird species where most of them are seen around Sipi falls and also along the trail to Chetui falls and Kapkwai forest exploration center. Birders will be able to see a number of bird species such as alpine chat, dusky turtle dove, lemon dove, white chinned prinia, African blue flycatcher, African goshawk, grey cuckoo shrike, mountain yellow warbler, hartlaub’s turaco, black-throated wattle eye, African hill babbler to mention a few.

Arabica coffee tours

This activity is marvel for many tourists who come to Sipi falls. The plantations are set around Mount Elgon which has volcanic soils which are perfect for this type of coffee coupled with the cool weather to ensure healthy coffee plants. These plantations are found in the Bagishu region and you will have fun meeting and hanging out with the people in the coffee production chain like the farmers, processors, exporters and the roasters. While here, you will get a chance to prepare your own cup of coffee straight from the source.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is a rewarding activity that is carried out on the top of the Mount Elgon and around Sipi falls. The mountain trails run from Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town. The activity is organized by Sipi River Lodge which also arranges bikes for hire. It is such a thrilling and enjoyable activity in that you ride a bike on the Rocky Mountains which give you a lot of great moments on your amazing safari.

Abseiling

This is the art of descending rock and slopes using friction device attached to your harness. It is organized at the Chebonet falls and are made up of 15 sport climbing routes ranging from 10 metres to 15 metres. While doing this activity, make sure you have a climbing helmet and other gears before taking part.

 

Guided nature walks

The guided nature walks at Sipi falls are done at the bottom of the waterfalls and the best time is during the rainy seasons. You will walk on the down steep through the surrounding village communities and the crops on the farmlands. Walk to the three waterfalls which takes approximately 4 hours. Nature walks at Sipi falls are guided with the local guides to the Budadiri community where you take part in the different trails like the Namugabwe cave trail which passes through the Bamasaba community and the banana plantations to reach the historical cave filled with bones.

Fly fishing

On the remote section of the Sipi River above the waterfall, you can learn and take part in the art of fly fishing which requires different techniques from other types of fishing for example luring the fish with a “fly”.

Nyero Rock Paintings

You will enjoy a walk to the Nyero rock paintings in Kumi which is approximately 2 hours from Sipi falls are of the most historical rock art in the nation. They are revered as a sacred place for the gods and now hold a lot of Uganda’s and even the heritage of mankind. You will engage yourself in tour and history of how the ancient people used to live through their art.

Cultural tours

You will enjoy cultural tours with the Sabiny and Bagishu who stay in the surrounding villages. The Bagishu have an Imbalu ceremony where young teenage boys are circumcised before the age of 15 hence learning more about traditional circumcision and why it’s carried out. You will also meet the Sabiny who will tell you about the female circumcision which is practiced in Sabiny and see performances from widows through dancing, singing, storytelling which will provide you with unforgettable memories on your safari.

How to get there

Sipi falls is located in the eastern part of Uganda, Kapchorwa district in the northeast of Mbale and Sironko and it can be accessed through Kampala-Mbale-Kapchorwa-Sipi falls and it is approximately 6 hours by road.