One of the positive sides of traveling to higher-up regions in Africa is that malaria is less prevalent. Why this is a big deal? Pregnant women have a greater risk to be infected and to develop complicated malaria. For this reason pregnant women are advised not to travel to or stay in regions with moderate to high malaria risk. In any case, it is always recommended to take preventative measures against mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes still occur and will be a hassle to anyone around, but the likelihood that they are infected and spread malaria is said to be considerably less. Reason for this is that the mosquito thrives best in tropical temperatures, not in colder, higher-up regions. With this in mind, one of our other field trips in Uganda suited perfectly into our holiday programme: Sipi Falls, three waterfalls that lie on the edge of Mount Elgon National Park. With a cooler climate than most of the country Sipi Falls is a nice place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty around. Although one can see the main fall from various angles, there is also the possibility to descend to the basin and have a more close up feel of the water dropping down.
There was no problem at all to book this tour on the spot and it can almost start at any time of the day. Due to the limited duration (1,5-2h depending on physical ánd weather conditions), it can be considered as small activity and can easily be combined with other activities around, such as a coffee plantation tour, coffee brewing activity, etc. We paid 10 dollars per person, a price that is said to go to a consortium of tour guides in the community.
We started our walk from Sipi River Lodge, where we also made arrangements with the guide. Not long after departure, we zigzagged through the small estates of locals living on the flank of the hills. It seems that most of them brew coffee, both for an income as well as for personal consummation. At one point, after a 15 minute walk, we reached the point where the ground literally drops about 100 meters. This is where the descend to the bottom really begins. We quickly realized that this descend is steep, with only a narrow path to follow. This is a little frightening, as there are few protective elements (e.g. bars, nets, fences,…) installed. The path also becomes muddy and slippery during and after (heavy) rainfall, something we were able to experience going back up (luckily!). Along our descend we reach a rather outdated wooden – partial metal – ladder along the steep trail. This part of the tour is not for those with a scare of heights; one will get a rush of nervousness climbing down and up the flank of the hill.
However, once you reach the pool, you indeed have a magnificent view and all was worth the effort. The fall literally drops before you. Take a rest on one of the two benches, enjoying the force of the water and welcoming a cooling water breeze. We visited Uganda during a so-called ‘El Niño year’, mixing up the rainy and dry season. Although it was at the end of March, people were still awaiting the heavy rains. Therefore the fall’s magnitude was not as outspoken as it can be during the rainy season. We did appreciate its beauty nonetheless and would recommend descending at any time possible.
As mentioned above, we encountered the first heavy rainfall on our way up, which made the hike slippery and a bit more challenging. Moments before reaching the top, the skies fully opened and water came pouring down, forcing us to speed up our climb and – once finally reaching the ‘ground floor’ – to take shelter in an empty classroom of a public school nearby. The red ground changed into a sticky, muddy clay, turning our walking shoes into clogs on our walk back. A refreshing ending to a beautiful trip.