Hiking Sipi falls
Hiking Sipi falls is one of the incredible falls in Uganda located on the foothills of Mount Elgon national park close to Uganda-Kenya border. The falls are said to have originated from the hot springs that flow on Sipi River flowing on Mount Elgon to the bottom pouring from a high cliff creating a series of rapids, flowing to Lake Kyoga. Sipi falls is composed of 3 different levels of waterfalls each with its own altitude. The longest is at 100m high and it’s the main fall with the last biggest fall in the series, second falls at 85m and the third falls at 75m. These waterfalls are believed to be the most romantic because they give beautiful scenery.
The triple waterfall on Sipi falls are possibly the most beautiful waterfalls in Uganda that also form a mini rainbow when they are hit by the morning sun is something for everyone to look forward to. Besides these 3 powerful falls, the entire landscape is dotted with more than 300 other ‘smaller’ waterfalls.
The falls are located in Eastern Uganda Kaphorwa district approximately 280 kilometres from Kampala. The drive will take you about 4 to 5 hours. The falls lie on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan Border. The name Sipi was derived from the traditional plant called ‘Sep’ that used to grow on the banks of the falls and which the locals used to treat fevers and measles among themselves.
The Sipi falls have recently become a huge head turner for both foreign and local tourists. The misty fog created as the water drops with great strength and deep rumbling, the suspenseful hike to the top of the falls and the view it provides of the coffee plantations and surrounding Kapchorwa plains, and not forgetting the endless photo-worthy spots are some of the reasons why. If you are planning to visit the falls, here’s what you could expect to do and see.
Upon arrival at the starting point, you are provided walking sticks to provide support on this hike. It takes you about 3 hours to hike all the three Sipi falls. The paths to the falls are approximately 7 to 8 kilometres with each hike a different adventure and new discoveries. You will be guided by a professional tour guide that knows the ins and outs of the place as well as the best spots with the best panoramic view of the valley!
This is one of the most adventurous sports you will engage in on your trip. If you are an adrenaline junkie this is the activity for you. It is a sport where you descend down the slopes of the steep rocks with a friction device and rope. This is also called ‘rappelling’. Be sure to carry a helmet and comfortable converse shoes for this exercise. This is found at the Chebonet falls – elevated at 1,272 meters above sea level. Chebonet falls is just close by but not one of the three Sipi falls, so basically an added marvel to your original expectation.
While abseiling, you are adjacent to Chebonet falls and below lies the bank of the falls. It is quite an adventure to have the mist from the fall embrace you as you descend with the water to the lowest point. This surreal experience is one of those activities will excite all your senses.
Coffee plantation on the foot hills of Mount Elgon
On this tour, you will get to experience the life of a coffee grower. The main type of coffee grown in this region is the Arabica coffee that grows at 1,900 meters above sea level. A lot of people in this area are coffee growers who have been doing this for generations. Most of the lower Mount Elgon plains are clothed in coffee-growing at all stages, you will learn the entire process from planting, maintaining, processing to selling. You will be walked through the process of picking coffee berries, shelling them, grinding them in a traditional mortar and pestle, roasting them on fire and to top it off, a fresh cup of coffee for all your hard work.
This is the opportunity to be a part of the community hustle and a portion of the profits from such a tour contributes to the community development and developing the region in general. Plus you get to make and taste your own cup of Elgon Coffee.
There are lots of trails set up around this area specifically for biking around Sipi River Lodge. Mountain biking trails range from hard-core technical rocky climbs to easier downhill routes. The tracks provide more than a biking opportunity, you have a chance to bike the lower sides of Mount Elgon, have great views of the coffee plantations, the three Sipi falls and Sipi River and Kapchorwa plains. You can as well bike through the community and check out how the local people live.
Hiking Mount Elgon National Park
The park is only 34 kilometres from Sipi Falls. There is a lot to see in the park, wildlife like leopards, Bush pigs, bushbucks, forest hogs, elephants, buffalos, Defassa waterbucks, spotted hyenas, black and white colobus, baboons, Vervet monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys among others. You will be guided by skilled personnel to help you easily spot these animals in the park. Mount Elgon National Park is among the least explored protected areas – and this means that you get the best authentic experiences of nature.
For those of you deeply interested in the African and Ugandan Culture, Sipi falls is one of the places to visit. The people in this region are called Sabins and Bagisu, these are the immensely cultural tribes in Uganda still practicing some of the old traditions like the infamous ‘Imbalu Circumcision’ of all male members of the community in Busigu while the Sabins circumcise female members. You can be part of this colourful event of song and dance if you visit in the months of August and December although you will not be allowed to take any pictures.
Use this opportunity to learn everything ‘Gisu’ from the dressing, social dynamics, try local foods and be a part of the community, it will be a refreshing feeling from what you are used to and definitely something you will talk about forever.