The Sipi falls are a phenomenon to many visitors, both local and foreign, yearly. Regarded as one of the most romantic places in Uganda,the falls are a series of three prominent waterfalls, with the longest drops as high 100m. The second waterfall drops 75m below and has upper cascades before the plunge. The third water fall measures 85m and is tall and columnar. It has a vigorous flow with mist and even creates mini rainbows when the sun hits it! However, there are countless other less prominent falls nearby. They can be a wonderful place to bring a loved one to spend some quality time together. The falls pick their water as it flows from the slopes of Mountain Elgon.
Located in Eastern Uganda in Kapchorwa District, North East of Mbale and Sironko, coordinates: 1.20’16’N 34.22’46’E, the falls are situated at the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan border 55km north of Mbale District. Sipi falls is also usually the starting point for many hikers looking to scale Mountain Elgon. The falls are also popular for the cool weather, the ice cold water which some describe as healing when dove into and the Bugisu Arabica coffee plantations nearby. Arabica coffee is known to grow at altitudes of about 1600m.
The breathtaking waterfalls derive their name from the Sipi River which in turn was named after the local plant growing along the river banks called the “sep”. This plant resembles a type of wild banana with translucent green fronds with a bolt of crimson red used for medicinal purposes like treating measles and fever. 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.”
When to go to Sipi Falls
Sipi falls is a nice place to visit all year round. Uganda has tropical climate and this means that it is warm all year and has no drastic changes. Sipi falls itself is always cool, in fact cooler than all the areas around and is a wonderful place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. As mentioned before a swim in the Sipi waters can be next to heavenly and the environment is good for meditation. The scenery will have you thanking God for his creation.
Where to lodge when in Sipi Falls
Sipi falls has many safari lodges around the area that you can stay at to enjoy the cool environment in the area and relax and wind down. In case you are backpacking, the Crow’s Nest is a good place to stay. Crows Nest is situated 2000m on the slopes of mountain Elgon. It offers a stunning view of the Sipi falls and the slopes of the mountain. It is made up of a number of dome tents and provides very little luxuries and is thus perfect if on a small budget.
Activities to do at Sipi falls
Hiking. Hiking is a very good option for tourists who go to Sipi falls. You can pick from numerous popular waterfall walks. These can be as short and simple as 15 minutes or as strenuous as hikes all day. However the cool breeze of the Sipi falls will offer a lot of comfort.
Sipi Arabica Coffee. The Arabica coffee plantations are also a marvel for many tourists who come to Sipi falls. The plantations are set mainly around mountain elgon which has volcanic soils which are perfect for this type of coffee coupled with the cool weather to ensure healthy coffee plants. The plantations are found in the Bugisu region and you will have fun hanging out and meeting all the people in the coffee production chain like the farmers, processors, exporters and roasters among others. You can even partake in the roasting and sorting yourself as you prepare your own cup of coffee straight from the source. The coffee is some of the best coffees on earth and is daily winning respect world over. You will appreciate the process and every cup will be more enjoyable. Visit a local coffee farmer to learn about his work and the life cycle of the crop.
Mount Elgon expeditions.
Mt Elgon is one of highest mountain continental and the second largest volcanic in the world measuring about 3000m above sea level and is imperious to the landscape. Hiking on this majestic giant can be a thrill to you as a thrill seeker.
Abseiling. Abseiling is the art of descending rock and slopes using a friction device attached to your harness. At Sipi falls abseiling descents can be organized at the Chebonet Falls and are made up of 15 sport climbing routes ranging from 10m – 35m. You can enjoy the descents and also have fun climbing all the way up. Make sure you have a climbing helmet and other gear before partaking.
The runner’s experience. At Sipi you can visit the home of the national running legends and trek or run the routes that they run and while there, you might as well take part and enjoy some of the Sebei culture like circumcision.
Bird watching. The world renowned activity can be enjoyed at the Sipi. Get immersed in the beauty of the Ugandan wildlife and challenge yourself to spot as many species as you can. It will be both soothing and fun.
Fly Fishing. On a 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”.
Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve. Take a look at the wild life at the Pian Upe and enjoy the diversity in the country. The reserve has some intriguing animals including the ostrich.
Mountain biking. For the thrill chasers, mountain biking can be a great way to get the Sipi wind rushing through your hair. Enjoy the scenery as you drive past with speed and enjoy the time of your life.
Nyero Rock Paintings. The Nyero rock paintings in Kumi, two hours from Sipi falls are some 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. Immerse yourself in history and tour how the ancient people used to live through their art. Marvel at their advanced and artistic way of interpreting life.
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