Published: August 3rd 2012May 10th 2012
After leaving Kisumu, I got a fairly cramped matatu on a terrible road to the Ugandan border. This was possibly the easiest border crossing yet, made especially easy by the fact that us Irish are one of the only European nations that don't have to pay the $50 visa fee. Thank you Fianna Fail, for whatever deal you strick with the equally corrupt Ugandan government. On a bit of a tangent - having read a couple of English language papers in Kenya and Uganda, it is incredible how many stories revolve around corrupt politicians and officials. It must be the subject matter of every third story. It's not that novel reading about this kind of stuff, but what was a bit unique was the story of the 14 year old Ugandan boy who was nearly lynched after being caught having sex with a cow!
If I thought the road to the border was bad, my first taste of the minibuses in Uganda was worse. The 3 hour journey from Busia to Mbale, was fairly uncomfortable with 4 crammed into a row that you couldn't really fit 3 into. I stayed the night in Mbale, which is Uganda's 3rd city. This
is the type of place that reall annoys me about the Lonely Planet guidebooks. They try to make out that there is something special about every hole of a town that exists, when you would prefer them to call a spade a spade and say Mbale is a hole! I got a cheap hotel and no sleep, as they people at reception decided to leave the radio on all night.
Next morning, I tried to find an ATM where I could withdraw cash and eventually got to the taxi rank, where I got in a shared taxi and waited for it to fill up and bring me to Sipi Falls. This shared taxi was even more cramped than the minibuses, the day before, but the journey was only an hour and I was dropped off just outside Crow's Nest campsite, where I set up my tent in a spot looking out over the falls.
The Sipi Falls are three waterfalls, which form part of the River Sipi. They are in a beautiful, mountainous area of Eastern Uganda. I went on a tour of the falls with the guide Moses from our campsite. This proved well worth it, as
we had to cross a lot of private property to get to the falls and this might have been problematic without Moses. There is quite a few people living in the hills around the falls and a lot of agriculture.
We got to the very top waterfall after about an hour or so of walking. I was able to walk right up towards the bottom of it and got soaked from the spray, which felt great after working up a sweat on the trek up there. We then went back down to the top of the second waterfall and down to the bottom of it, where you can stand in a cave right behind the waterfall. Again, you get a good soaking from the spray of the waterfall.
We went on to the bottom waterfall, the biggest, which is about 100m high. I had decided to take up the offer of doing an abseil down beside it. The last time I had abseiled was on a school tour to Carlingford in Ireland and I'm fairly sure that wasn't 100m high or right beside a waterfall. It was also over 10 years ago. I watched Moses bounce down the
waterfall and surprisingly wasn't as nervous as I made my own way down. The first 30m, you have the cliff face to bounce off but after that it is just letting yourself down mid air. It was an amazing experience, with an incredible view of the power of the waterfall. At the bottom, I got completely saturated by the waterfall, but felt great and was still buzzing by the time I got back to the campsite, which was fairly quiet and I had an early night.
There are more photos below