10 Things to do at Sipi falls

In Kapchorwa, one of the districts in the Eastern part of Uganda are the beautiful and spectacular waterfalls of Sipi. The falls are named after the River Sipi, from which they emerge. Sipi River has its source from the hot springs in Mount Elgon. On its way to Lake Kyoga, Sipi River rolls off cliffs that stand on the slopes of Mt. Elgon and the result are these falls of different magnitudes.


These scenic waterfalls are a marvel that fascinate many visitors. Walks/hikes to the falls are conducted by the local guides and they take between 2 or 3 hours depending on one’s physical strength. All the 3 falls are a must visit as they have unique appearances. They fall from different altitudes of 85, 65 and 100metres, respectively. The first falls of 85m command a nice front and back view. The second falls of 65m are termed as the ‘Twin falls’ but smaller than the other two falls. You can tell that it is a twin fall when visited during the rainy season. It has a man-made cave behind which enables you to view the back of the falls. The largest is the one of 100metres with a very nice view from the bottom and a big pool down or call it a Natural swimming pool.

All the falls form pools down but swimming in them is mostly advised when visited during the dry season. With too much water, they tend to be dangerous during the heavy rains. When visited in the wet months, the trails/paths tend to be slippery so you will have to go with walking sticks to hold you up or help as you descend/ascend some steep walk ways. During the walk/hike, you can freely interact with the locals through whose villages you traverse to reach the falls. The hike to the waterfalls is the only activity for a 1 day sipi falls tour.


This is very interesting and the activity is at times termed as the ‘Life of a coffee tree’. You are taken out to the coffee plantations with in the villages and if interested, you can plant coffee seedlings before picking/harvesting the ripe coffee berries. The picked coffee is pulped, washed and sun dried for some 4 or 5 days on a neat drying shed. The dry coffee beans are sorted and later sold off.

Away from that, your visit is intended for making the coffee powder. When the beans get dry, they are roasted and pounded into powder using the local mortar and a pestle. With a cup of some coffee, you will get a taste of what you will have made while have some packed for you to take home. Through out the activity, your guide will be sharing stories about the ways of life of the people in the area, the origin of coffee and much more.


This involves descending down the waterfalls using a rope and a harness. It is done at the main waterfalls by trained guides who ensure your safety and enjoyment as you get the best view of the waterfalls and the splash of the water. Although open to all ages, it’s mostly done by people between the ages of 18 and 35. If nervous and can’t abseil alone, you can be joined by a guide or do it with a person of your choice.


There are many rocks in the area and this has promoted the rock climbing sport or adventure. However, there is only one rock which was identified to be suitable and safe for the activity as the rest are too rough and very slippery. Depending on one’s physical strength or experience, it is usually a one hour activity. It’s tricky to learners though they can still do it with the guidance of trained staff. The climbing gear hire is included in the package.


There is a man made and a natural cave in this area. The man made cave was a result of the animals which used to leak the salty rock hence forming a cave down. The natural cave used to be the ancestral home for the Sebei people. Caves in the area used to be the ancestral homes for the kings.


Community and Cultural tours around Sipi Falls involve walking into the villages to experience a part of the local people’s ways of life and the cultural history. This place dominated by the Sabiny people was way back known for circumcision of both women and men but since the human rights bodies’ intervention, the circumcision of women was banned. These are some of the stories you will hear from the guides and the locals. The demonstration of the circumcision process for men will leave you nervous though you will not fail to join the dances that come with it. It is very strange to many visitors to know that a boy of 18 years can only be initiated into adulthood after circumcision and that you won’t be allowed to marry or gain community recognition if uncircumcised. Likewise, transition into adulthood to women was after circumcision back then.


few kilometres away from Sipi falls area are the Chebonet waterfalls which are as high as 90metres. Just like Sipi falls, they also emerge from Mount Elgon and have very clear waters hence the name Clear water falls. Don’t miss visiting them with more time in the area.


You will leave Sipi area and drive to the nearby Mount Elgon National Park gate for a day walk/hike in the park forest. Depending on your physical strength, you can choose between a 5KM or 11KM trail. The 11KM trail will lead you to the Tutum Cave which used to be visited by animals that were attracted by the salty rock. Due to poaching, the Karamajong rustlers and the civil wars in Uganda in the 70s, many animals were killed as others were scared by the gun shots and hence migrated to Kenya. You are only able to see some monkeys during this walk. You will also have great views of the falls. Mount Elgon National Park is a home of a thousand water falls.


To view the sunset and have very clear nice photos, reach out to a place where the Sebei King used to live. It is called the King’s point, a very big hill commanding a view of all the 3 waterfalls at a close range. Also it commands a very extravagant view of all the home steads in Sipi. In the old days, it was a strategic point that enabled the Sabiny to see the Karamajong rustlers from a far distance and prepare themselves for any attacks from them. It is at 360 degrees and on a clear day, you can view the 2<sup>nd</sup> highest peak of Mount Elgon. At the same point still, you can have a clear view of the Karamajong and Teso plains, Lake Kyoga, Lake Opeta, Pian upe Game Reserve and Mount Kadam, among others.


Sipi is generally a mountainous/hilly region. Cycling expeditions can always be arranged for more visits in the area. It will start from Sipi to the entrance of Mount Elgon National Park upto the boundaries of the waterfalls. The ride goes through villages where you will see the locals tending to their gardens, have nice views of the homesteads and the adjacent plains. If experienced, you can take a longer trek to the high altitude areas.

In this same sport of cycling, you can ride upto Teryet Training Stadium. This is a new high altitude Training centre for our country’s sports/athletes giants. Kapchorwa is home to some of the reknown world’s Racing Champions. Some of these Champions are Kiprotich, Cheptegei and Kipsro. They have won many medals in the world Olympics and Common Wealth Games. If lucky to find some of these champions in their training sessions, please cheer them up.