The interesting difference between Sipi and Murchison Falls, in my opinion, is that of the two, Sipi is more accurately named. The thing about Murchison Falls is that the water there just doesn’t fall. It fights, froths, and foams its way through the rocks.
At Sipi, however, the water really does fall. The flow never touches the cliff at all, but simply drops, in a lacy, diaphanous veil, to crash into the pool at bottom, creating a constant fine mist in the process. It’s a beautiful, elegant ballerina, stretching top to toe a slender 100 meters; Murchison by comparison is a stocy, meaty beast, more awe-inspiring than mesmerizing.
And should you decide to visit this delicate aquatic ballerina, you could do worse than stay at the quaint and comfortable Lacam Lodge, along the road, from Mbale to Kapchorwa. The Lodge, constructed on the slopping cliff, is moderately-priced, with a relaxed wooden bar, and lots and lots of steps (which is good for the knees, but very bad if you need the toilet at 3:00am)
There are two main reasons why this place is so good, the first of which is the food. The quality is pretty good- I particularly enjoyed my honey pancake, though it would have gone down better hot- but the quantity is the real bonus, if eating is what you like to do. It’s the sort of place one would got to if one had just wandered out of the Sahara, where you could walk in on Monday rake-thin, and walk out on Tuesday heavy as a hippo.
On Sunday morning for breakfast, I was served up pineapple and banana for starters, then toast as a second course, and finally bacon, eggs, and sausage as the grand finale. I could quite happily have shared the meal between another two people and still left the table feeling satisfied.
The second reason for choosing Lacam is that it’s very convenient for abseiling, the location of which is only a five-minute walk from the lodge. Organized by a company inexplicably known as “Rob’s Rolling Rock”, I never saw Rob, or any rolling rocks – this is a must-do for those visiting the falls. You lower yourself rather scarily backwards over the 100-meter drop, suspended by a couple of ropes, and then basically lower yourself down by feeding one of your ropes through the harness.
The feeling about half-way to the bottom, when you look all around you and are basically hanging in mid-air, is particularly memorable. Intelligently, the site for the abseiling is also quite close to the falls themselves; not quite close enough for them to make you wet, but close enough. If you’re feeling energetic, you can also, from the base of Sipi, go on a three-hour or so tour of two other falls upstream – similar in appearance to Sipi- and “the cave”.
This last is a big fat cavern in the mountain, which is apparently filled with bats; however, you need to take your torch in there to see them, and do take one yourself. Guides, mine included, sometimes forget to bring a light themselves, which can be a bit of a pain.
Just the same, this place is still one of the best experiences I have had in Uganda, mainly because the abseiling and three-hour country trek appealed to my energetic side. Be warned of a couple of things though: the abseiling co, have not, as yet, got gloves as part of their kit, which can result in nasty burns as the rope zips through your palms. Second, don’t expect to be able to watch the falls as you eat your dinner, they are only visible from one point at the lodge, so they are usually heard, rather than seen.