Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls in Eastern Uganda in the district of Kapchorwa, northeast of Sironko and Mbale. The waterfalls lie on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park near the Kenyan border.
The Sipi Falls area is the starting point for many hikes up Mt. Elgon. The most popular route starts in Budadiri and follows the Sasa trail to the summit and then descends down the Sipi trail back into the Sipi Falls. Hikes around the falls offer stunning views of the Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga, and the slopes of Mt. Elgon. Individuals can organise trips through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or local private operators.
There are a number of lodges and campsites in the area offering a range of accommodation for visitors who would like to explore Eastern Uganda. With a cooler climate than most of the country Sipi Falls is a nice place to unwind, relax and literally chill out away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities. Being on the foothills of Mt. Elgon, Sipi offers a number of alternative activities to the mainstream river activities in and around. Other adventure activities not to miss on a Uganda safari through eastern Uganda include hiking around the local area and visiting the local waterfalls.
The Sipi River is named after the ‘Sep’, a plant indigenous to the banks of the River. Resembling a type of wild banana, Sep is a medicinal plant; the translucent green frond with a bolt of crimson rib is used for treating measles and fever.
The Sipi Falls area is particularly famous for locally grown Bugisu Arabica coffee. Bugisu Arabica only grows at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,900 metres. Coffee tours are organized through guides with knowledge of coffee farming, processing and roasting. Profits from this go towards community projects.
Sipi is a very peaceful and pretty spot, and it makes a most agreeable base for gentle day walks in the surrounding hills, which offer spectacular views to the lowlands further west and weather permitting occasional glimpses of the Elgon peaks.
The most popular walking trail, only 20 minutes each way, leads from behind the post office in Sipi trading centre to the base of the main waterfall. If you choose, you can continue for another 20 to 30 minutes to reach a cluster of caves on the cliff above the river. The largest cave extends for about 125m into the rock face, and contains rich mineral salt deposits that have clearly been worked extensively at some time in the past, as well as traces of petrified wood.