Sipi, the triple waterfall is arguably the most romantic and beautiful feature in Uganda. It sits at the foothills of Mountain Elgon and often a starting point for hikers.
Our host at Casa Lodges set up a dining spot where we enjoyed the morning view of the falls as we reminisced and told stories from our previous hike as we had our breakfast.
Moses Kabanga, our tour guide, said Sipi was derived from the traditional plant called ‘Sep’ that used to grow on the banks of the falls and which the locals used to treat fevers and measles. Sipi Falls has become a head turner and with my partner Jaqi, we headed out to Sipi Falls Lodge for adventure at the falls.
After our lunch at the lodge, it was time to chase waterfalls for two to three hours. The waterfalls consists three prominent layers where the Kaptogolo is the longest drops with a height of 100m. Chepkui falls, the second fall has a number of small waterfalls before jumping from a height of 75m. Then Chebkoch, third layer of the fall is tall and forms a column of water with a height of 85m; this is where the magic happened. Kabanga gave us walking sticks to give support on our hike. He said it takes you about three hours to hike the three falls, but it took us about the same time to hike only two.
As we panted towards Chepkui falls, Kabanga said Ugandan athlete Stephen Kiprotich carries out his training on that walkway.
Here, we were immersed in water spray and the admirable view, approximately 10m from where you stand.
Stepping in the calm water at the start of the falls and washing our faces was breathtaking. Here, we viewed the sharp corners of the road that leads to Kapchorwa Town.
The highlight of the day was at Chebkoch falls, which is at a height of 85 metres, the splashing water from the falls makes its vicinities wet. The walkway also becomes slippery and wet as a result. If you do not have a walking stick, falling down is compulsory.
I could not waste this beauty and adventure - hiking 7.5km of slippery mud to reach Chebkoch Falls.
We walked by the locals’ homes and gardens whose neighbourhood was dotted with eucalyptus trees. At this point, the gushing water falls could not be missed. When we finally reached a few metres away from the falls, I was so emotional; without any training, we had reached this far - I had to do something memorable - I proposed to Jaqi again!
Our guide and photo moment
Kabanga is so knowledgeable and passionate about his job, that he makes you ponder why you did not take on a career as a tour guide.
He led us to this famous Sipi Falls photo spot - you can never go to Sipi falls and miss taking photos from this place. Different poses will make you appear like either drinking from the large water fall, or throwing up.
As we proceeded, Kabanga seemed like he was reading from a book. He told us that before Covid-19, he would hike the falls, twice or thrice a day — business was good.
He told us he could not count the times he has witnessed people proposing to each other during these hikes. This motivated me to propose to Jaqi again!
Time-check: 12:30pm. Before leaving for Kampala, we had a moment with Saleh Naminya, the chief exceutive officer of Casa Lodges, who gave us a brief historic tour of this place, leading us to Sir Andrew Cohen (colonial administrator)’s former house - now a family cottage at Sipi Falls Lodge.
In 1952, Cohen was appointed Governor of Uganda, with the task of preparing the country for independence - this house was one of his bases in Mbale. Staying in this cottage feels like reliving history. That is when we felt the urge to stay but our time was up.
According to Moses, some items that generally apply to most activities.
Hiking shoes that are comfortable for you to walk in for a few hours.
Sunglasses, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat for the sun.
Light Poncho/Rain jacket because it could rain at any moment, like it did during our hike.
Photography equipment such as cameras, batteries and extra memory cards.
Water bottle because the climb will leave you breathless and in need of rehydrating.
By Enock and Jaqi.