Sipi Falls – Uganda – Hiking, Tours, Accommodation

sipi falls uganda

The Sipi Falls are found in the village of Sipi, Kapchorwa District, in eastern Uganda. They consists of a series of three stunning waterfalls situated in the foothills of Mount Elgon, near the border with Kenya. The falls are located on the Sipi River that flows from hotsprings on top of Mt. Elgon, and in the bottom of the mountain the river encounters high cliffs and numerous rocks thereby creating a series of rapids and the three stunning Sipi waterfalls. Sipi River pours into Lake Kyoga.

The Sipi Falls are an iconic attraction of the eastern region and are one of the best places for hiking in Uganda.

The Sipi Waterfalls Trail

Following the Sipi river flow from the top, the first waterfall plunges 85 meters over a cliff into the plunge pool below.  It is the second highest of the three Sipi waterfalls and gives off such a thunderous splash! Midway this cliff is a trail that cuts behind the waterfall. It looks quite scary from the bottom before you get up there, but it is safe and such an incredible vantage point for better views of the falls and panoramic views of the Mt. Elgon Slopes & the distant plains of the Karamoja region.

After the plunge, the river continues on its course through farmlands & local communities, flowing over rocks & small cliffs and thereby forming pools & rapids, before it plunges 65 meters over another big cliff, forming the second waterfall of the Sipi Falls. This is the smallest of the three Sipi waterfalls. The waterfall forms a nice “natural shower” which you can go under and enjoy the cold pour especially after a tiring hike. However during the rainy season the water volumes goes up and the shower will be too strong and risky. There is also a man made cave behind the waterfall situated near to the bottom. The cave offers a wonderful behind the waterfall experience, where you can sit silently in the shadow of the gushing waterfalls that have created a sort of a curtain to the cave.  Enjoy the cool breeze, nice views and lots of good photos!

sipi falls trekking

From here the river flow continues through a bit of more bushes and less local community farmlands, before plunging over another massive cliff, 100 meters high – hence the biggest of the three Sipi waterfalls. This waterfall has a big enough plunge pool that you can dive in for a swim in the cold waters. It is commonly referred to as a “natural swimming pool”. This is considered the main waterfall and often times mistaken to be “thee” Sipi Falls without considering the two others waterfalls. It is totally breathtaking with rainbows cutting through the sparkling white falls.

Activities & Adventures to do at Sipi Falls

Hiking to the Sipi waterfalls

sipi-falls-hikingThe Sipi Falls is one of the outstanding attractions in Eastern Uganda, and arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in Uganda that you should consider to visit.

The falls being located at different areas along the cliffs-dominated foothills of the Mountain Elgon, you cannot see all three of them at once. For this matter you have to hike to each of the waterfalls, following a trail approximately 7 to 8km. It is a bit strenuous though, as there are some steep spots and rocks that give a bit of a challenge especially when it rains, the trail becoming all muddy and slippery. A walking stick comes in very handy for much needed support.

The trek meanders through villages and coffee and banana farmlands and also offers excellent views of the massive wall-like cliffs, the green slopes of Mt. Elgon from up, to the flat grounds below the foothills across Kapchorwa and in the distance panoramic views of the Karamoja plains.

On average, it takes three hours to hike all three falls, but this so much depends on ones pace & fitness levels. It is wiser though, to plan for four hours to cater for stops and time spent at the different falls. There are a number of starting points, depending on which waterfall you intend to start with or hike to. If time is not your concern and you are confident of completing the entire hike, it is best to start from the top, and save the best & most challenging for last, and that is the main waterfall. Alternatively you can hike to the first two falls before breaking off for lunch or a break at one of the lodges and later proceed to the main falls to spend the rest of the day & probably do so some swimming in the cold plunge pool.  If you have limited time, it is best you start off with the main waterfall and see if you can continue up to the other two.

The hiking trail is not properly demarcated and at some places combines with the village footpaths, increasing the possibility of getting lost. It is therefore a must to take along a local guide(s), many of whom are natives of Sipi and know the trail very well. Porters are available too if you feel the need for one, more so during the rainy season. You will find these (porters & guides) eagerly waiting for any arriving visitor to Sipi.

A fee of 2000 Uganda Shillings (approx 1 USD) is the requirement to visit the Sipi Falls, paid to a representative of the Sipi local community who are the managers of the falls.

Abseiling/Rappelling & Rock Climbing at Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls is the premier destination for Abseiling in Uganda. Rock Climbing & Abseiling are done at the main waterfall. Equipment (rappels) is available as well as well trained guides to take you through this thrilling adventure.

Local experience of coffee processing

The lower inhabitable slopes of Mountain Elgon, such as Sipi, are popular for coffee (Arabica) farming as the key income earner for the local communities. You have the opportunity to join a household where you are taken through a learning experience of coffee farming to local coffee processing.

Birdwatching

Mountain Elgon is one of Uganda’s richest destinations for birds to the effect that it recorded the highest number of bird species (275) on the Big Birding Day of 2013, beating off perennial favorites Murchison Falls & Queen Elizabeth National Park. Sipi Falls is ideal for a short birding tour for some of Elgon’s species or even a starting point to bird Mt. Elgon National Park.

Local Cultural Experiences

Kapchorwa, and Sipi in particular is inhibited by the Sabin, an overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly tribe with rich ancient cultures. They are mostly popular for the Male and Female circumcision. Female circumcision is almost phased out now after massive worldwide campaigns against a practice viewed as very unfavorable and disadvantageous to women. The Male circumcision ritual is an interesting cultural event one can witness and take part in. Local cultural dances are also organized by the community.

Accommodation at Sipi Falls

Upmarket : Sipi River Lodge

Moderate: Lacam Lodge, Sipi Falls Resort

Budget: The Crow’s Nest

Getting to Sipi Falls

It is 4 – 5 hours of drive from Kampala, through Jinja, Mbale to Kapchorwa.

Sipi Falls tours

2 Days Sipi Falls hiking tour with Jinja

1 day Sipi falls tour

Share This!
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr