For the larger audience, Sipi falls are found on the foothills of Mt Elgon, in kapchorwa district in eastern Uganda. My experience all started with a friend of mine inviting me to support her new tour and travel business and one of her trips would include a visit to the famous sipi falls. Well, I accepted the invite, parted with a few shillings and before I knew it the day was finally upon us.
Kapchorwa is a high-altitude area and this makes the scenery for road travellers even more amazing, you get to see as far as Lake Kyoga as well as the karamoja plains. We arrived at our destination lodge, had a delicious lunch and set off to start at the feet of one of the falls, for your information they are 3 waterfalls. We were given bamboo sticks to aid on this adventure we had just began. As we drew closer to the first water falls, we could hear the roar as far as 1km away, I hope am not exaggerating the distance but should be about that distance.
As we took one of the last turns that left us facing this amazing wonder, everyone was in awe at the beauty and might of this geographical phenomenon, personally I think God is the best artist I know, no matter which one you believe.
As my fellow travellers gapped at this amazing sight, I picked up my pace like an explorer who had long searched for the source of this or that river, I paced and within no time I was a few meters away, to my surprise I kept looking for an outlet to see where the water was going but was left to crunch my brains as there was nothing in sight, the guide finally catching up with me noticed my dilemma, he gently smiled and said, it goes through a cave in the rocks, my mind was even more amazed, an abyss within a fall I thought, the guide then jolts me to move forward and keeps smiling probably because of the look of amazement on my face.
Each step towards the feet of the falls felt more intense, the roar grew louder, the weather changed, it was now a full on drizzle created by the thundering fall and impact of millions of gallons of water taking a step down to find its rhythm with nature, no amount of literature can explain the feeling in my bones, in my heart and in my mind, right there looking at the feet where the mighty waters fall; the thunder, the wind, the energy, somehow in that moment you take a breath and feel like it is the first real breath in your life, now I understand what breathtaking means, now I felt one with mother earth.
Amazed at her subtle art, it was the longest breath I have ever taken, and I didn’t want it to end. Wow, wow, wow. I stood, I took breath, I smiled for that moment in time, there was no hour or minute, there was no time, it was perfection, nature spoke, I listened, I felt, I lived.
I probably spent some 10 or so minutes in this wonderland, if it was not for human limitations (fear of pneumonia) I would have stayed longer, almost fully drenched from the drizzle I finally departed and gave room to my fellow hikers. We took some selfies and all the usual lovey dovey poses etc for our clones#socialmedialife and embarked on the next adventure.
This next adventure was optional, as it is not for the faint hearted. Finally, the axe came down and it was only 2 daredevils willing to look death in the face, the dreaded abseiling down the longest of the 3 falls, a dive of 100metres, the height may seem small but I assure you, its very different in the vertical sense of things. The transport vehicle dropped us a few meters away and along with the guide we walked towards our judgment, as we drew closer, we knew with certainty that there was no turning back, being that the two dare devils were well balanced as male and female species, the thought couldn’t even cross my mind to be the one to back out. In a few minutes we finally reached the top of the water falls that we were about to descend on in a different style.
Our abseiling instructor by the name of Job welcomed us with a gentle smile and some introductions, speaking in an American accent, his first sentence to us, “No one is dying today” You can imagine the equations in my mind, so who has died on other days etc, anyways Job starts giving us rather vivid instructions, at this point my attention span was enough to ace any exam in the world, it was a matter of life and death and 100 meters dive plus Jobs instructions were my only life line. He kept yelling forget everything you know, only listen to my voice and my instructions, at this point it clearly felt like day one on a military training course, the gentleness was gone, only seriousness is what Job was all about now.
After the crush course instructions some members of Jobs team were told to dress us up, all sorts of gear were tightly dressed on us, harnesses, ropes, bolts tightened etc, I felt like one of those discovery channel guys going to climb Everest, only this time, I would be falling. Never have I been more attached to the phrase ladies first than that moment we were all dressed and Job says the lady will go first, remember at this point we are right on top beside the water fall, we can hear its roar, reality sets in, nerves are now showing up, mother nature decides to spice things up, it starts drizzling again. My fellow dare devil starts asking the instructor questions like “are we going all the way down together?”, am laughing in my heart but I know it’s a very valid question because now reality of the decision really sinks in. long story short Martha starts off a little shaky but with some morale boosting, she finds her way home, her story is her’s to tell.
My story was just beginning, I thought of Job in the bible and how the devil asked God to take away all his riches and see if he follows, I felt like this was one of those tests but with a much dire consequence. Am now up and set, the ropes are tied and Job the instructor, clearly tells me to go down as a man, no hand holding, extra help etc, I start my vertical descent, at 90 degrees I start my walk, “small steps, spread your legs, let go of the rope” Job instructs, I nervously obey. In all this life-threatening fear, 20 metres down and Job yells, look at the falls, I turn my neck slowly and behold, the mighty water fall staring, gently falling, somewhere in there I find some silence and appreciate this moment, slowly the fear dwindles away, next thing I know Job is asking me to make poses, selfie moments in effect, a few good pics and back to business, keep going down, Job instructs.
Now the scariest part of this descent which you never really anticipate is the vertical wall comes to an end and a cave like feature begins at about 40metres down, meaning you are literally hanging, sort of like a ballet dancer, only in my case, am not gently swaying, fear comes right back, I hold tight to the rope again. As I continue to descend, I notice the colors of the rocks and cave like features, it’s a sort of brown and black but nothing artificial paint can capture, its pure nature no additives no mistakes no exaggeration, just nature, I hear the water falling, I see the vapor as water loses form due to the deep dive, I see green like never before, too rich, in the balance of things, in the middle of this dive, with my life hanging in the balance, there was a peace like no other, I felt like you could literally have a conversation with God and it was just the two of us.
May be nature designed it this way with the end in mind for those who don’t make it, but for me, it was tranquility all the way till I touched down. Please make this part of your bucket list, go with prayer requests while at it, you may hear God respond. An amazing adventure I will carry with me for life.