Sipi Falls



We had a few days to kill before heading to visit our friend near Kampala, and we had zero desire to spend a lot of time going too far, nor did we feel like going anywhere that required too much planning, so we headed east to Sipi Falls. We had read that this set of waterfalls was beautiful and that there was some decent rock climbing and hiking in the area, so we decided to head there for a few nights.

View from Our Porch at Crow's Nes
View from Our Porch at Crow's Nest

Our accommodation, Crow’s Nest, seemed pretty shabby at first, but after spending a few minutes on the porch of our bare-bones shack overlooking the valley and all three of the falls, we quickly warmed up to it. The food they served, mostly consisting of local vegetables and meats, was lovingly prepared and presented, as well as delicious, which always helps! Sipi Falls consists of three spread-out waterfalls: the top one is 75 m tall, the middle one is 65 m tall, and the bottom one is the tallest, tumbling down an impressive 95 m. We went rock climbing one day, but almost all the routes ended up being a bit too difficult for us, which was too bad. Climbing, a long-time passion of Nick’s and a recent interest of Claudia’s, has been a bit of a vexing activity on this trip. Most places that are widely known as climbing havens end up being for very experienced climbers, the type with forearms bigger than our quads, leaving casual climbers like us frustrated. Perhaps we’re spoiled with climbing in the eastern US, but we haven’t been able to find many locations with easy-to-moderate routes, where we can spend a few hours relaxing and enjoying the scenery in between attempts. Oh well…

The Bottom, and Tallest, Waterfall
The Bottom, and Tallest, Waterfall

The next day we walked to all three of the falls (a total loop of abut 8 km) with a local guide, who took us to a friend’s house toward the end of the hike to sample the local home-brewed beer. The beer is made from maize flour, yeast, and water, and takes about a week to ferment, leaving a thick porridge-like substance, which is then served by mixing it in a teapot with boiling water, and then drunk through a long, thin straw shared among the group. The fermented mixture and boiling water keep being added to the teapot, making for what seems like a bottomless cup of brew. The beer was thick, and tasted very strongly of yeast, but was more palatable than the similar beer we tried in South Africa. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of this experience was the company–we talked politics, education, culture, and challenges each of our countries faces with our guide and one of his friends while sipping the brew. We love having these kind of conversations with people we meet on our trip; it’s the best way to learn their perspectives.

Local Ugandan Maize Beer
Local Ugandan Maize Beer

On our last night, we took a short walk over the hill behind the Crow’s Nest to try to find a suitable place to watch the sunset. The road ended in a clearing with several small paths branching off, and before we knew it, a group of small children formed around us and showed us the way through their village to a hill above the flat plains to the west. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy, so we couldn’t see too far, but watching the kids play, laughing with them and teaching them to whistle over cupped hands, and having them show off their counting skills in English, was all infinitely more rewarding than any sunset.

Kids at Sunset
Kids at Sunset

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