10 Things to do at Sipi falls in Kapchorwa near Mount Elgon
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Sipi falls are three scenic water falls that spread out over the slopes of the massive extinct Elgon volcano just outside the boundaries of Mount Elgon National Park in Kapchorwa after Jinja tourism city in Eastern Uganda. The beautiful and spectacular Sipi falls are named after River Sipi from which they emerge. Sipi River has its source from the hot springs in Mount Elgon Park. On its way to Lake Kyoga, Sipi River rolls off cliffs that stand on the slopes of Mount Elgon and the result are these falls of different magnitudes. Mount Elgon National Park is a great place to spot various flora and fauna but more popular for its exciting hikes. Sipi falls area in particular is a peaceful and perfect area to unwind from the routine Uganda Safari.
The Sipi falls are arguably the most beautiful water falls in Uganda and are one of the most visited tourism sites by both domestic and international visitors. On your Tour to Sipi Falls, endeavor to visit all the 3 falls as they all 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’’ though much smaller than the other two falls. You can tell it’s 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 recommended when visited during the dry season. With too much water during heavy rains, they turn out to be dangerous.
The top 10 things to do at Sipi Falls
- Hiking the Sipi falls
Hiking the Sipi falls tops the list of the things to do on a Tour to Sipi Falls. Hikes and nature walks to the falls are conducted by the local guides and they take between 2 – 3 hours. The trail to the waterfalls takes through villages and farm lands which presents a great opportunity to freely interact with friendly locals. Besides that, walking through short grasses on a plateau enhances sights to distant places as far as the Kenya-Uganda border, Karamoja region, refugee settlement camps, Kidepo Valley National Park, Pian Upe Game Reserve and other scenic features. The moist-blowing wind keeps the day chilly which helps to cool off the heat every single minute. 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 as you descend/ascend some steep walk ways. The hike to the waterfalls is the only activity for the 1 day sipi falls tour.
- Coffee tour
A coffee tour at Sipi falls is often termed as the ‘Life of a coffee tree’ and it involves planting, harvesting, drying the beans, roasting and grinding in to powder. You are taken out to the coffee plantations with in the villages to 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. 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. Apart from learning about the local and traditional skills of making the coffee powder, you will get to know about the origin of coffee, local people’s ways of life and much more. Sipi falls and Mount Elgon region is probably Uganda’s main Arabica Coffee production area. Let us know if we can include the coffee experience to your Sipi falls tour.
Abseiling is one exciting and hair raising adventure offered at Sipi falls. It 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 travel mate.
- Rock climbing
There are many rocks in the area and this has promoted the rock climbing sport and 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 rock climbing package.
- Cave adventure
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. There are many caves to be explored in this area with the local guides who passionately share the lives of their fore fathers.
- Community/cultural tours
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 is dominated by the Sabiny people who are known to circumcise both women and men, a ritual performed to initiate them into adulthood. In times gone by, uncircumcised men and women would not be allowed to marry or gain community recognition. With the human rights bodies’ intervention, the circumcision of women was banned. The male circumcision ritual is also performed by the Bagishu and is commonly known as ‘Imbalu’. Other cultural encounters could be for visiting the local homesteads to see how people carry on with their daily lives, traditional dances and music, among others.
- Visit Chebonet clear water falls
Chebonet water falls are among the over 1000 less known water falls on the Mount Elgon slopes. They are located a few kilometers away from Sipi falls area and are as high as 90metres. Just like Sipi falls, they also emerge from Mount Elgon and have very clear waters hence the name Chebonet meaning clear water. Some of the other falls are Wanale, Bulago, Sisiyi. Others are located high up in the mountains and are unreachable.
- Forest exploration at the Mount Elgon slopes
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 the hiking experience, there is choice between a 5 and 11 kilometer 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 in the area. Mount Elgon National Park is a home of a thousand water falls.
- Sunset walks
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 second 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.
- Mountain biking/cycling
Mountain biking and cycling expeditions are another great way to explore the Sipi falls region. They are arranged to start from Sipi to the entrance of Mount Elgon National Park up to 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. Experienced riders that can take longer treks to high altitude areas are able to see Teryet Training Stadium. This is a new high altitude Training center for our country’s sports/athletes giants. Kapchorwa is home to some of the renown 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. You can even find some of these champions in their training sessions on your cycling trip.
Other outstanding waterfalls to visit in Uganda are:
- Itanda Falls in Jinja
- Sezibwa Falls near Kampala
- Murchison Falls in Murchison Falls National Park
- Aruu Falls in Kitgum
Recommended tours to Sipi Falls
- 1 Day Sipi falls tour
- 2 Days Sipi falls and Jinja city tour
- 5 Days Sipi falls, Kidepo and Rhino tracking.