A date with nature at Sisiyi Falls

Friday September 09 2016
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If you are a lover of nature, you should visit Sisiyi Falls in Bulambuli District. The falls encompass a unique splendour, and the falling masses of water accentuate Mt Elgon sub-region landscape.

Many who have visited the falls confess they had not intended to but were so awestruck by the beauty as they travelled past it that they felt indebted to return.
On August 18, I also set out to visit the falls that lie 40km east of Mbale Town.

The transport fare for the 40km journey to Buyaga Trading Centre was Shs4, 000. Then take a boda boda ride to Sisiyi Falls at only Shs2,000.

The flat terrain at Buyaga Trading Centre promotes good visibility. As I approached the falls, I begin to savour the object of my adventure.

Sisiyi falls is covered by the green vegetation of trees that protect the tourist spot from the harsh rays of the sun.

Tourists do not have to worry about heat as they climb the rocks. With relative ease, tourists can hike the falls in a hand-holding human chain formation, usually led by a guide.

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The falls are described by the Bagisu ethnic tribe that lives in the area as Mezi ge lisus, (loosely translated as “the smoky waters”).

Relaxing place
The falls sit on a 13-acre piece of land. The fresh but cold breeze was unexpected, though pleasant.

The artificial forest of eucalyptus trees offer a cooling canopy and expansive trimmed lawns suitable for picnics and camping for more than 200 people. The space looks sufficient for relaxing outdoor activities and games.

At Sisiyi Falls Resort, you are welcomed by the adjacent Butandiga ridge, shimmering stony hills, and the water falls like a white sheet about 110 metres.

Sisiyi is probably the highest water fall in Bugisu [Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bulambuli and Bududa districts]. Many a new comer would take Sisiyi Falls for Sipi Falls in Kapchorwa.

The falls can be accessed through three big stones and trees. These stones and trees are said to be about 500 years old according to 63-year-old Margaret Maleza, the caretaker of the place.

Maleza ushers me in and offers to provide a guide. She says the falls are majorly visited by tourists mainly Asian, European and occasionally a few natives.

“These falls were on a big space but due to cutting down of trees, they have reduced,” Maleza said. She adds that increased human activity on the slopes of the Mt Elgon will gradually cause the volume of the water to dwindle further.

The water rolls off about a cliff that is about 110 metres. It comes down gushing and splashing over rocks then tumbles down the Sisiyi hill in a series of mini-waterfalls. These generate noise, which die as soon as the water touches the two huge rocks at the bottom and turn to a stream.

At the bottom of the cliff, there is a crater lake. Here, the rocks are very slippery making walking through the waters very difficult.

As I followed my guide, Stephen Nangoli, I realised that the towering eucalyptus trees on the edge of the lawn obstructed the falls.

To many local people, Sisiyi has been a source of clean and safe water. However, in most sites around central Uganda, where unusual physical features automatically gain spiritual significance, there is no religious attachment to Sisiyi Falls.

Maleza explains though many of the Asians who visit the falls believe the Sisiyi is capable of healing emotional ailments such as mending broken marriages, the Bagisu don’t mention it.

Some consider the shallow bottom of the falls a place that cleanses them of misfortune as well as delivering a vision for the future.
With all the amazing work of nature Sisiyi Falls is, you will not regret your visit.

If you visit sisiyi
Location. Sisiyi Falls is found in eastern Uganda in Bulambuli District, northeast of Sironko and Mbale. The waterfall lies on the edge of Mt Elgon National Park that straddles the Uganda-Kenya border.
Relaxing. With a cool climate than most of the country, Sisiyi Falls is a nice place to unwind, relax and literally chill out away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities.
Activities. Sisiyi offers bird watching, trekking to the mainstream river fall, climbing along the rock to the top of about 110 metre high fall, hiking around the local area and visiting other smaller local waterfalls within Bugisu.

dmafabi@ug.nationmedia.com

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