Unexploited tourism potential at Aruu Falls

Sunday October 1 2017

Opiyo Oloya and deputy Speaker of Parliament

Opiyo Oloya and deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah pose infront of a section of Aruu Falls. PHOTO BY SYLIVIA ATIM  

By Monitor team

A flood cascades off a still set of rocks before rapidly pouring into various enclaves in Agago District.
This is Aruu Falls that flows through Agogo District into Lapaya village in Pader District.
The falls are located eight kilometres from Aruu Trading Centre marooned by a Aruu Falls Campsite, a major stop point for tourists.
At the campsite, the sound of the distant roaring falls whirls through the air as water pours into the seven enclaves of Wang Okiye, Lacee, Okello Gem, Ryanga, Lanya Kweyo, Akweyo and Awilo Yaa.
According to locals, Aruu Falls draws its waters from River Agago that flows through Agago and Pader districts.
Imposing rocks, arranged into a series of steps form the platform on which water beautifully rolls into different formations before splitting into about seven tributaries to pour into the seven enclaves.
A story is told that the enclave around Aruu Falls had been inhabited by the Jo P’Kongo, who had migrated from Otwa and settled at Lapaya village in search of water and pasture. They had also escaped tribal conflict. The Jo P’Kongo people occupied the banks of the enclaves around the falls and this can be seen from stone cuttings and artefacts carved on different rocks.
It is believed that the original inhabitants of Lapaya village where washed away by water because they had built houses in and around water ways.
“The water levels increased suddenly and washed many of them away. No survivor is known but some people say that a woman and a certain man who had been away on different errands, survived,” Vincent Nyeko, an elder in Lapaya says.
The scenic beauty of the falls has been a tourist attraction feature for both local and international visitors.

Tourist attraction
At the campsite, visitors relax on rocky features as they watch water roll off the rocks. The more daring ones dive into the water to swim while others warm themselves around bonfire points as the sun begins to set.
Others draw fun from camping, hiking, fishing and swimming and bird watching.
According to Sylvia Atim, the caretaker of Aruu Falls, the falls have been instrumental in propping fast-paced growth in both tourism and human settlements.
The falls, Atim says, are one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in northern Uganda.
However, she adds government has not invested enough to exploit the potential of the falls.
“Aruu Falls are quite mesmerizing. Tourists from near and far come here to appreciate God’s creation. Government should exploit the potential that lies within them,” she says.
The falls, she says, have a monthly visitor number of more than 100 people who come from within and outside Uganda. “Students and pupils visit the falls for learning purposes. Some just come around for the fun while other tourists come to relax,” Atim says.
Godfrey Oringa Largo, the Pader District chairperson, believes Aruu Falls is a major tourist attraction that Ugandans must appreciate.
The district, he says, has plans to develop it into a more attractive tourist site to improve tourism and the district’s revenue.
According to Winnie Lawoko-Olwe, the vice chairperson of the Acholi Tourism Cluster, Aruu Falls have been identified in the region as a tourist potential and “there are plans to engage surrounding communities to chart a way through which they can be developed”.
“We have engaged the district to have in place a budget that we can use to make better plans for Aruu Falls,” Olwe says. The development, she says, will be conducted through a public private partnership.
Compiled by Cissy Makumbi, Caroline Ayugi & Josline Adiru