About Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls was actually a series of three tall waterfalls all plunging along the lower slopes of Mt Elgon.
Mt Elgon is said to be the 4th highest peak in Africa and shared between Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya.In the literature, the name of Sipi Falls was often only associated with the main falls, which you can see in the picture above.
However, I managed to go on a guided hike to further explore the area, and this led us to Sipi Falls’ other two impressive waterfalls.
It turned out that visiting all three waterfalls involved a rather difficult 7km loop hike that was full of steep ascents and descents, flimsy ladders, flimsy catwalks, lots of farms, and lots of mud.
This was especially the case since it had rained during the start of the hike.
Although it might have been possible to visit the other two waterfalls through a combination of driving and shorter walks (something I only found out about during the long hike), I found this longer hike to be more fulfilling.
Experiencing Sipi Falls from the Lacam Lodge OverlooksJulie and I were able to see the main drop of Sipi Falls (which also happened to be the tallest tier at about 100m) from the eco-lodge called Lacam Lodge, where we stayed.
We managed to witness the falls from numerous positions around an amphitheater.
Such overlooks also allowed us to look further downhill towards the town of Mbale in the valley below.
I also noticed that there were a handful of other lodges built around this amphitheater so I’d imagine that if you stayed there (instead of the one we were at), then it would be just as easy to see and photograph the main drop of Sipi Falls.
The Grand Tour of Sipi FallsAfter coordinating with and paying the local guide at the lodge, I embarked on a hike that he guided.
It began by descending through some local farms before descending further towards the base of the main Sipi Falls.
It had rained during this descent so that made it a bit tricky to not slip and fall as soon as the steps gave way to the steep, slippery, and muddy dirt trail.
As a result of this muddiness, I opted not to go right down to the very base of the main Sipi Falls as I was content with the viewing spots that I had already experienced.Beyond the base of the falls, the trail then climbed steeply towards a small cave with a view back at the main Sipi Falls.
From this unusual vantage point, I could get similarly angled views of the falls as those from the Lacam Lodge (albeit from the opposite side now).
As we continued the hike, the trail then went through a farm and back onto the tarmac road eventually reaching another property where we followed a trail uphill to a flimsy catwalk leading to views of the second Sipi Falls.
This second waterfall was said to be 75m tall, and it consisted of some upper cascades before making its big plunge.The guide led me around a faint path, which took us to a tiny cave right behind this middle waterfall.
Continuing with the hike, we then climbed up some more steep and muddy sections until we made it to the top of this middle waterfall.
The view from this vantage point allowed me to appreciate how cultivated the western slopes of Mt Elgon were.
I figured that the combination of the rich volcanic soil of Mt Elgon must have made the land very fertile and thus conducive to cultivation.
Next, we went through some more farms before ascending some more slippery tracks.It was a good thing the guide was there to help pull me up on sections where I felt like I would lose traction with each muddy step that I took.
In any case, we’d ultimately reach the base of the uppermost (or third) of the Sipi Falls.
The walk between the second and third falls seemed like a long way, but seeing that third waterfall made it well worth the effort.
Like the other two waterfalls, this 85m falls was both tall and columnar.
Given its height, we managed to see it from pretty far away as we made the final approach to the waterfall’s base.We ended up following a path that took us real close to the falls where we could really appreciate its height as well as the vigor of its flow (given the amount of mist it spewed).
In the wake of all this mist, we did see faint rainbows from the partial sunlight that momentarily broke through the overcast skies.
After experiencing this last of the Sipi Falls, we pretty much hiked all downhill as we ultimately rejoined the tarmac road near the Lacam Lodge, where the hike ended.
In total, the overall hike took me about 3 hours and 15 minutes, which might have been a little faster than average.If I were to plan a trip involving this waterfall, I’d count on allocating at least 4 hours to do this hike at a more leisurely pace.
Sipi Falls resides in the Mt Elgon National Park near Mbale in the east of Uganda. It is administered by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. For more information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website or Facebook page.
As for specific directions, we were driven here so we can’t really give specifics.
However, we can say that it took us about 5 hours to drive east from Kampala to the Lacam Lodge (where we could see the main Sipi Falls).
That’s something to consider if you’re incorporating this place into your itinerary.
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