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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.