Sipi Falls is the most beautiful, wonderful and romantic waterfall in Uganda situated in eastern in the districts of Kapchorwa in the northeast of Sironko and Mbale. It takes about five hours or 276 kilometers from Kampala City where you drive along Jinja road to Mbale town where you will then drive towards Kapchorwa, on your way to Sipi falls you will be able to see Mabira forest, river Nile, Jinja town among others which are great places with great memories. Sipi River was named after the Sep, an indigenous plant to the banks of the river which resembles a type of wild banana, sep is a green medicinal plant that is found with a bolt of crimson rib used for treating some diseases by the local people like fever, measles among others.
Sipi falls is comprised of three waterfalls each flowing from a different altitude that lies on the foothills of Mount Elgon and near the Kenyan boarders which offer beautiful and stunning views of Mount Elgon. This is one of the main attractions in the Mount Elgon National Park. The highest fall drops from an altitude of 100m, a little bigger than the other two falls and is referred to as the main fall. Hiking up to the top of the falls gives you a magnificent and beautiful scenic view of Lake Kyoga, Karamoja plains, the coffee plantations, surrounding areas among others.
Sipi falls has got a nice and cool climate all year round than other parts of the country because of the hilly area and the fresh air that comes from Mount Elgon which makes it a beautiful and peaceful place to relax and chill out away from town with great views of Mount Elgon slopes, Karamoja plains and the three waterfalls. Sipi falls is surrounded by the Sabiny and Bagisu community who are friendly and hospitable and are famous for growing Arabica coffee as the main cash crop in the area.
Activities done around Sipi Falls
- Hiking and climbing Mount Elgon, this is an amazing experience that is carried out by the visitors with the help of the local people as porters and guides who are informed about the historical and geographical background of the area. Mount Elgon is the fourth tallest mountain in East Africa and takes 3 to 4 days to climb on the top depending on your pace and this hike will boost your East African Safaris. The waterfalls are located in different areas on Mount Elgon which makes it hard to get a view of all the three waterfalls at the same time and there are hiking trails to the falls which are 7km to 8km and it takes around three hours to visit all the falls depending on your hiking pace and physical fitness. The starting point of hiking to the waterfalls range on which waterfall you want to visit first but many people usually begin with the tallest waterfall which is 100m high offering beautiful scenic views of Mbale town on top of the waterfall hike. While going for waterfall or Mount Elgon. Hiking involves walking up the hills through the thick green vegetation, following trails through the local communities where you need to pack enough drinking water and packed lunch from the lodge which can be carried by a hired porter when hiking because it takes around 3 to 5 hours and they will give you the energy to continue hiking. It’s always advisable to take a walking stick for support in the steep, slippery and muddy areas during the rainy seasons hence the best time for hiking is in the dry season when the trails are not wet, muddy and slippery for you to explore.
- Abseiling Rock climbing, this is one of the most fun and exciting activities in Sipi Falls and Mount Elgon. Abseiling rock climbing is done from Rob’s rock alongside Chebonet falls the main and longest waterfall and is carried out by adventurous travelers and skilled guides to guide you through the activity. Abseiling rock climbing on Sipi falls and Mount Elgon has grouped as easy, medium and hard routes where the hard route 35m climb and the easiest is 15m climb. Abseiling rock climbing is done using materials called rappels which are tied and fastened on a strong pillar from the top of 100metre high waterfall then you climb on the high cliffs and also descend 4m down on steep rocks with a trained guide on a slow but steady pace with water vapor splashing all over your body to the bottom with a firm rope tied around your waist. Abseiling rock climbing is only carried out at Sipi falls and Mount Elgon is best done during the wet or rainy seasons because, during the dry season, water levels at the falls reduce because of hot weather in the area and abseiling costs $50 per person.
- Mountain biking, mountain biking is an adventurous activity that is carried out on top of Mount Elgon and around Sipi falls, mountain trails run from Sipi trading center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town and hard-core technical rocky climbs to downhill, the activity is organized by Sipi River lodge which also arranges bikes for hire. The activity is enjoyable, adventurous and thrilling in that you ride a bike on the Rocky Mountains which gives you a lot of great moments and experience when on your safari in Sipi falls.
- Nature walks, nature walks at Sipi falls are done at the bottom of the waterfalls and the best time is during the rainy season, you walk on the down steep slopes through the surrounding village communities and the crops on the farmlands, walk to the three waterfalls which take around 4 hours among others. Nature walks at Sipi falls are guided with the local guides and take around four hours. Nature walk to the Budadiri community where you take part in 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. Abayudaya Jews of Uganda community walk which is located near Mount Elgon and Sipi falls and is believed to be 100years old. This community has a hospital and schools that teach Jewish and Ugandan curriculum to students and according to the Abayudaya Jews to be part of the community is by choice and not by lineage.
- Walk to the Nyero Rock Paintings and caves, these are the ancient rock paintings located in Kumi district, two hour’s drive from Sipi falls. These caves were created thousands of years ago by the ancient cave dwellers who were the first inhabitants of the area and the local people consider the Nyero rock paintings sacred and believe that the gods still live there.
- Trout fishing, this is carried out in the cold, fresh and clear waters of Sipi River which borders Mount Elgon national park, the activity has been re-introduced at Sipi in the recent years where the visitors explore by catching and releasing the fish in the river just like it’s done in Murchison falls national park where the visiting catch and release the Nile perch back to the water. Visitors who participate in trout/fly fishing are supposed to carry packed lunch and drinking water from the lodge and the activity is best done early in the morning because that’s when the waters can be more successful.
- Bird watching, Mount Elgon is a home of 275 bird species where most of them are seen around Sipi waterfalls and along the trail to Cheptui falls, Kapkwai forest exploration center among others. Bird lovers will be able to view different bird species including thick-billed honeyguide, black-throated wattle eye, Hartlaub’s Turaco, alpine chat, mountain yellow warbler, grey cuckoo shrike, African hill babbler, dusky turtle dove, lemon dove, African goshawk, white chinned Prinia, African blue flycatcher among others.
- Coffee tours, coffee plantations are located on the lower slopes of Mount Elgon is coffee grown is majorly Arabica which grows within the altitudes of 1600m and 1900m, it is the main cash crop of the Bagisu and the Sabiny in the area hence used as their source of income. Visitors walk through the coffee plantations, talk to the coffee farmers and learn how coffee is harvested starting with picking the coffee beans to shell them, pounding or grinding them with a traditional mortar and pestle, roasting them on an open fire and finishing the process with a fine hot cup of coffee. The coffee tour at Sipi Falls costs 25,000UGX per person and provides you with a great experience on how coffee is processed locally as you explore the coffee plantations in the area.
- Cultural encounters, during your safari at Sipi Falls you will have an encounter with the Sabiny and Bagisu who stay in the surrounding villages. The Bagisu have an Imbalu ceremony where the young teenage boys are circumcised before the age of 15 hence learning more about traditional circumcision and why it’s carried out in the area. You will also meet the Sabiny widow’s group who will take you on a guided walk in the coffee plantations explaining the activities involved in coffee growing, you will learn about cooking, visit the local women’s handicraft shop that is located in the trading center, get involved in educative activities of the Sabiny people for example awareness about female circumcision which is a practice in Sabiny and see performances or entertainment from the windows through dancing, singing storytelling among others which provide you with unforgettable memories on your safari in Uganda.
- Visit the Sipi RiverApart from visiting the three waterfalls in Sipi, you could as well take a safari visit to the Sipi River which offers you an opportunity to have a beautiful scenic view of the green vegetation which inhabits the Sep plant where the name Sipi was derived.
Sipi Falls has a number of accommodations where the visitors on a Uganda safari can stay including Lacam lodge, Sipi River Lodge, Sipi Falls Resort, Camping facilities for those who love camping, Mount Elgon Resort among others, these accommodations make the visitors relax, comfortable, provide great scenic views of falls and provide quality services like meals, shelter, drinks among others.
A visit to the amazing Sipi falls gives you an opportunity to take part in thrilling, adventurous, magnificent experiences as go for hiking on the three waterfalls, abseiling rock climbing, visit the coffee plantations among others with unforgettable lifetime memories on your safari in Uganda.