Abseiling: Hanging on Rope 110metres down Sipi Falls

He ordered me to close my eyes and spread my legs. Gently pushed my chest, for my body to lean back. He whispered in my ears, “enjoy the moment,” as the splashing water gushed over my already trembling body. Mixed with optimism and fear, it was momentous. Abseiling is a bewildering experience!


We had traveled to Kapchorwa district, Eastern Uganda to explore more of the Sebei land. The place is synonymous with Abseiling by Sipi falls, a tourism spree that is not only spine-chilling, but also mind boggling.

Job Soyekwo (right) briefing us

The Sipi Falls are beautiful waterfalls in Uganda and arguably the most visited tourism sites in the Eastern region. The Falls consist of three waterfalls that are separated by steep hillsides in the district of Kapchorwa.

The falls are found outside the boundary of Mount Elgon National Park, where springs flow over narrow cliffs before plunging with force at the foot of the mountain. According to Job Soyekwo of Mulima Adventures, the name Sipi comes from the “Sep” plant which thrives around the banks of the river Sipi..

“The Sep plant has a green and red colour, and has a striking resemblance to wild banana. The plant can be used for treating fever and measles,” stated Soyekwo. A story is told of how some British travelers found a local lady picking the wild Sep plant near the (now) river Sipi and asked her for the name of the beautiful falls uphill.

The writer looking frightened

She assumed they were inquiring about the wild plants and answered, “Sep.” The British travelers are said to have heard “Sipi” and thought it was the name of the waterfalls. From then onward, the waterfalls became known as Sipi.

A series of these three waterfalls lie at an altitude of 1,179metres above the sea level. “One of the falls lies at 65metres with a man-made cave, another at 85metres and a third one at 110metres high, from where abseiling is usually carried out,” explained Soyekwo.

To Kapchorwa

It takes an average of six hours of driving from Kampala to reach Sipi Falls. The major highway used is the Kampala – Jinja highway which offers opportunities to see beautiful places like the Mabira forest and the river Nile among others. After Jinja, the journey continues to Iganga town, Mbale and then finally to Kapchorwa.

Abseiling is the main tourism activity carried out by Sipi falls. After our night at Sipi Valley Resort, we were picked by Soyekwo for the excursion.

Down 110metres by the rope

Also known as rappelling, abseiling is a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. One end of the rope is buckled around a person’s waist and the other part, tied onto a firmly wielded metal which is stuck into a rock.

Bukedde’s Godfrey Ssempijja enjoying the moment

Watching the waterfall hitting rocks lying beneath the cliff at such a height of over 110meters, and plunging in all directions, sent shock-waves into my body. The better option was to close my eyes as Soyekwo had suggested.

At that point where he said, “enjoy the moment..,” is when I couldn’t stop citing the Lord’s prayer time and again. Down, by the falls, I was gently lowered. Whereas, it was a stunning beauty down the valley, it was trembling to look at what lay beneath. I was hanging by the rope, being lowered towards what looked like a dome with pointed rocks lying at the bottom; upon which the falls plunged and splashed.

The view became clearer as the descent continued. Opening my eyes to a very beautiful flora around the waterfall, suppressed all the fears I had. The vegetation beneath the white stream, the hilly topography and beautiful rocks that earlier looked like a death sentence, struck another feeling of life, beauty, and love for mother nature.

Agness Namale of Gugudde TV calling onto her God

The close proximity of the falling water and panoramic views provide a once in a lifetime experience. Upon landing, I also managed to step into the cold water which sent tickling chills allover my body. Abseiling is an amazing experience!

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