Sipi Falls in Uganda

Sipi falls is made up of 3 waterfalls, each flowing from a different altitude. The highest falls from an altitude of 100m. This fall is the last of the series and the biggest of all; they offer beautiful scenery of the area. This area is majorly where most hikes to Mt. Elgon are started from. Hiking up to these falls gives a beautiful scenic view, like Lake Kyoga, the karamoja low lands, coffee plantations and other surrounding areas.

Sipi falls is located in Kapchorwa district which is approximately 277km from Kampala. The falls are on the foot hills of Mount Elgon. The falls derive their name from the word “sep” which is a name of a wild banana like indigenous plant that grows along the shores of Sipi River. The locals in the area use this plant as medicine for treating fevers and measles.

The climate in this area is cool since it’s a hilly area and sometimes individuals do the trek in rain, making the hike a bit challenging. It is a great place for chilling, loosening up and relaxing from the congestion around cities and towns. The altitude of the area ranges from 1600m-1900m above sea level.

The locals living in the area are majorly the Sabiny and Bagishu, who are farmers who grow a lot of crops and Arabica coffee which is their cash crop. Some tourists to the region add visiting these plantations to the hiking packages.

The nearby communities have hospitable people and majorly the Sabiny and Bagishu live around this area and do farming such as growing of Arabica coffee which is the major cash crop in this land, this coffee is grown on altitudes between 1600metres and 1900metres above sea level. While there individuals can engage in visiting these plantations, these visits can be organized by local guides in the area.

Activities

There are various things to do around Sipi falls.

Hiking

Hiking is the major activity done around the area. The terrain is steep and cars cannot reach in some areas therefore the only way to get there is by foot. The Sipi falls are not located in one place and it is impossible to see them at the same time, but all can be seen in one day. There are different starting points for the hike depending on which fall you would wish to spot first. The paths to these falls are approximately 7km to 8km as you walk and it takes around 3 hours to visit all the falls, but it is dependent on individual fitness and pace.

If you have lesser time you are advised to start with the main waterfall and continue with others later. But in cases where you have enough time it’s better to first hike to the first and second water fall, take a break or relax and then continue to the last water fall. As you hike you will need walking sticks to give you support since you go through some steep spots and in case it rains the paths get slippery and muddy.

Abseiling & Rock climbing

This activity is done at the main waterfall and is enjoyed by adventurous travelers. All the equipment need to do the activity can be got on ground. There are experienced guides who guide participants through the whole experience.

Coffee plantation visit

Coffee plantations are found on the lower slopes of the great Mount Elgon. The coffee grown is majorly Arabica and grows in altitudes ranging from 1600m to 1900m. This coffee is a cash crop to the people living in the region (Bagishu and Sabiny). During your visit, you will be able to learn about how coffee is planted, harvested, processed, roasted up to when it get to the cup and ready for consumption.

Cultural encounters

The locals who basically stay around Sipi area are the Sabiny. The community usually organizes a traditional dance to entertain their visitors and you will also learn about their way of life; marriage, Dress code, food. This region is also known for female and male circumcision, though that of females has reduced over the years since it was found to be unhealthy and risky to women, but that of men is an amazing activity to witness especially if you visit the area during circumcision time.

Bird watching

Birding in Sipi area is done Around Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre there are a few great birding opportunities, for instance along the trail to Cheptui Falls and in the secondary forest. Species that can be found here are the the African Goshawk, white-chinned Prinia and African Blue Flycatcher. Some birds can be spotted around Sipi river lodge gardens, in case you are spend there a night.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking is a very exciting safari activity to all travelers interested in viewing the unique vegetation terrain, birds, mammals, etc. We advise you to transfer with your bikes and equipment as you are travelling into the country for the remarkable experience. The trails that are taken are rugged stretching through the Pristine Forest Valley, stunning streams, and different vegetation zones offering bikers unique exceptional adventures that last for ages.

Mountain biking takes about 1.5 hours to finish and the trails run from Sipi Trading Center to Chema hill in Kapchorwa town and while on this you will have beautiful views of the magnificent waterfalls as well as the Karamoja plains. The bikes used can be hired from Sipi River Lodge.

Nature walk

Nature walks can also be done where by you can move around the forests and vegetation of the region. You may also take a walk to the Sipi River. As you walk, you will expect to spot different bird species that live in the surrounding vegetation.

How to get to Sipi Falls:

Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls in Eastern Uganda in the district of Kapchorwa, northeast of Sironko and Mbale. The waterfalls lie on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan border.

By road from Kampala city to Sipi takes you about 5 hours about 277km.  You drive to Eastern Uganda on Jinja road passing via the outskirts of Jinja town, and then go through Mbale town as you head to Kapchorwa the home to the beautiful Sipi falls. Along the way you will be able to see the beautiful green vegetation and rocks along the slopes of Mountain Elgon. Driving to this area also adds to your unforgettable experience before you even reach.