In the eastern part of Uganda Kapchorwa district, northeast of Sironko and Mbale is where you find the beautiful, splendid Sipi falls. Consisting of a series of three tall waterfalls lying on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan border. The main falls are the highest dropping at 100m compared to the 2 falls.
The word sipi is derived from Sipi River which named after the ‘Sep’, a plant indigenous to the banks of the River. Resembling a type of wild banana, Sep is a medicinal plant, the translucent green frond with a bolt of the crimson rib is used for treating measles and fever. The area is also known as the land of the Sabiny people some of Uganda’s best runners who have brought glory to Uganda in the international Olympic Games.
The favorable cooler climate around the falls is the perfect place to unwind, relax and literally chill out away from the congested polluted towns and cities as you hear the birds singing in the hills.
The Sipi Falls can be visited throughout the year. Visiting the waterfalls during the drier seasons of the year is popular with travelers and tourists who wish to experience the cool weather in the area. The dry season is best for a visit because the trail up to the highest waterfall is not slippery. However, in the wet season, the water volumes of the falls increase and it gives the best views as masses of water drop down in the valley
It is 5 hours from Kampala Uganda’s capital Kampala along the Kampala – Jinja highway. A visit to Sipi falls is packaged with brief stopovers to see beautiful places like the thick Mabira Forest, River Nile, Sezibwa Falls among others. After Jinja, you proceed to Iganga town and then turn off to join the Tinyiri Highway towards Mbale then drive to Kapchorwa.
The fall’s strategic location on the slopes of Mt. Elgon offering numerous activities some of these include:
Visit the Sipi Falls
Hiking through a network of marked trails to explore the bottom of each of the 3 falls that give you beautiful views of the landscape. A guided walk is highly recommended as a local tour guide takes you around explaining the flora, fauna, the history of the place and showing you the routes.
Climbing Mountain Elgon
The area around the falls is the starting point for many hikes up Mt. Elgon. The most popular route starts in Budadiri and follows the Sasa trail to the summit and then descends down the Sipi trail back into the Sipi Falls. The sipi trail, which begins at the forest exploration center in kapkwai, has become a popular return route as it allows you to chill out at sipi falls following your trip to the top. It is a 4- to 7-day round-trip, though you can opt to descend via the sasa trail, an easier route. On the first day, you can camp inside the huge tutum cave, which has a small waterfall over its entrance and once attracted elephants who dug salt out of the rock, much like some caves on the Kenyan side still do. Hikes around the falls offer stunning views of the Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga, and the slopes of Mt. Elgon.
Abseiling and Rock climbing
This is sometimes regarded as a sports activity, it will just take your breath away as you go down beside the great magnificent roar of the main 100m Sipi waterfalls. A doubled rope is coiled around your body and fixed at a higher point. You will be in the company of trained Italian climber who will help you throughout this activity. You will be rewarded with views of these romantic falls and beautiful scenery. For the best photography have one camera person take your photos as you start and another at the bottom of the falls for the middle part as u finish. Robs rolling rock is the only company that provides this adventure activity for about $50.
The soils around the falls particular favor the growth of the famous locally grown Bugisu Arabica coffee. Bugisu Arabica only grows at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,900 meters. Coffee tours are organized and professional guides with knowledge of coffee farming, processing and roasting will take you around the vast coffee plantations. Profits from this go towards community projects.
The nearby communities have hospitable people and majorly the Sabiny and Bagishu live around this area and do farming such as growing Arabica coffee. A visit to the communities enables you to learn more about the culture and tradition of the 2 tribes mentioned above. As you experience their ways of life, food testing food; they also entertain visitors with their traditional songs and dances.
This adventure has been cherished among the thrilling tourist activities that travelers normally engage in while at sipi. The biking trail runs from Sipi trading Centre to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa town. It takes about 1.5 hours to finish. During the ride, you will have beautiful views of the magnificent waterfalls as well as the Karamoja plains. It is organized by Sipi River Lodge which hires out the bikes.
With over 274 bird species, Mount Elgon National Park offers a complete bird watching experience to visitors visiting Sipi Falls. The birds can be seen along Sipi River, cheptui falls and Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre. Some of the birds include: Tecazze sunbird, black collared Apalis, black-shouldered kite, bush shrikes, African Blue Flycatcher, Baglafetcht weaver, and Jacksons Francolin
Accommodation is the least of your worries when you plan to visit Sipi. There are all types of accommodation such as the luxurious lodges, mid-range hotels and budget hotels and also campsites are available for those interested in camping. Some of the facilities include Sipi River Lodge, Sipi Falls Resort, Mbale Resort Hotel, and Mt. Elgon Resort.