Sipi Falls are named after River Sipi from which they emerge. Sipi River has its source from the hot springs in Mount Elgon National Park. Note though, Sipi Falls are not part of Mount Elgon National Park. On its way to Lake Kyoga, Sipi River rolls off cliffs that stand on the slopes of Mount Elgon hence forming these three spectacular falls with distinctive force and height of flow. They fall at 85, 65 and 100 meters respectively. On your Tour to Sipi Falls, endeavor to visit all the three falls as each of them has a unique appearance.
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.
Sipi River and Sipi Falls came to be named after ‘Sep’, a dominant plant at the banks of the river. The locals use the Sep plant leaves and roots to make herbal medicine for treating fever and measles. In the old days, some European travelers who couldn’t pronounce the word Sep like the locals, ended up naming the falls and the river as Sipi.
It was after a story of some British travelers who approached a woman that was picking the Sep plant to ask for the name of the beautiful falls they were viewing. Unknown to the lady that they were asking for the name of the waterfalls not the plant she was harvesting, she responded with the word Sep. The travelers pronounced it as Sipi and hence the name.
Location of Sipi Falls in Uganda
Sipi Falls are located after the famous Jinja city in Eastern Uganda just outside Mount Elgon National Park in Kapchorwa District. Accessing Sipi Falls from Kampala or Entebbe airport can take 4 – 6 hours of driving via the Kampala-Jinja highway through Mbale town up to Kapchorwa. It is a scenic route offering sight seeing opportunities for spectacular landscapes, the Mabira Forest, sugarcane plantations, tea plantations, River Nile, Owen Falls Dam, the new Nile bridge, rice plantations and a lot more.
Activities/things to do
The major Sipi Falls activities for tourists are hiking/walking to the falls, abseiling, coffee tour and cultural visits. The walks/hikes to the falls are doable to all ages and are a guarantee of viewing them from the top or bottom. Hikes, just like abseiling and coffee tours, are done in the company of knowledgeable local guides. Self-guided walks are possible, but to visitors who know the place and the different trails leading to the falls. They (self-guided tours) are however not recommended.
Other activities at Sipi Falls include Mountain biking and jogging, bird watching, hiking Mount Elgon, visiting other falls with in the area like Chebonet, Sisiyi, among others. Fly fishing, Kapkwayi Forest exploration, cave adventures, rock climbing, visiting to Teryet Training Stadium, photography and village walks can be engaged in by visitors.
Sipi Falls Entrance fees
There are no entrance fees at Sipi Falls. Fees are basically charged for hiking/walking to the falls and they include services of a local tour guide plus a free walking stick. Other fees are for activities like abseiling, forest exploration, cave adventure and others.
|Ugandan||Ug Shs35,000||Ug Shs20,000|
|Foreign Tourist||US $15||US $6|
Please note that the falls can be seen from some of the lodges around Sipi, but from afar. Entrance fees may not be required in such a case where a traveler decides not to step out to reach the falls.
Other places to visit near the falls
Other places to visit near Sipi falls include Mount Elgon National Park for hiking and forest exploration, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, Matheniko Game Reserve, Nyero Rock Paintings, Tororo Rock and others. Also Jinja city can be considered for exciting adventures like the tour of the Nile River Source, white water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, tubing, quad biking, horseback riding, cycling, among others.
Accommodation/where to stay
Accommodation at Sipi falls is available in budget, mid-range and upper mid-range lodges. As per hotel and Lodge standards, there are no luxury lodges apart from Sipi River Lodge which is trying. Some of the budget Lodges are Lacam Lodge, Home of Friends Guest House, Sipi Falls Resort, Crow’s Nest and Noah’s Ark Hotel. Mid-range lodges are Rafiki Lodge and Sipi River Lodge.