Home News Trekking To the Sebwe Falls, The Experience

Trekking To the Sebwe Falls, The Experience

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The Sebwe falls

You may have read, watched a video or heard of the Rwenzori mountains. A range of snowcapped mountains running along the western boarder of Uganda and on the East of the Democratic republic of Congo. Standing tall at an elevation of 5,109 meters (16,762 ft) above sea level, the highest point in Uganda.

So, a few days a go (on 1st April to be particular) I joined a team of young tour operators and guides under the umbrella Kasese Tour Operators and Guides Association (KATOGA) for a familiarization trip to one of the magnificent hidden treasures that the Rwenzoris hold. The Sebwe falls.

At delta petrol station Kasese town we met and united with stranger friends before we set off for our adventure. Everyone looked prepared for the hike, from the dress code to the attitude. Many thanks to Exavier Baluku the chairperson KATOGA who put this adventure together.

From our meeting point we drove past the Kasese Aerodrome along the Kasese – Fort Portal highway and branched off at Nkenda junction commonly referred to as ‘Okwakisanyarazi’ a Lhukonzo word describing an area with plenty of electric transmission lines. Probably the place was named after the 220kV Nkenda substation that evacuates power from mini-hydro power projects in the Western Region districts of Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kasese, Hoima and Masindi which is later integrated into the national electric grid.

20 minutes’ drive from Nkenda our next stop was in Bugoye trading center where we branched off from a bumpy marram road to a feeder Muramba road. A number of mountain ranges were before us, we didn’t know what hill we were to take on except for Rhedo who was trekking to the falls for the second time.
He had all the bragging rights because he knew what we didn’t know. Rhedo is a young tour operator at Palm tours and Travel a Kasese based travel company.

Past Muramba trading center our next stop was Kisamba trading center. Between Muramba and Kisamba, the terrain changed, we were now ascending the Rwenzoris and I saw the driver frequently engage the gear lever to an extent that he didn’t even want to blink.

At some point the driver gave up, the van couldn’t make it all the way and that’s how we Jumped onto Boda-bodas. Credit to the Boda guys who ascended the hills like they had no passengers on board. And vrrooom we were at the last trading center, Kisamba II village.

Meanwhile at the last trading center we could view the waterfalls from a distance. A beautiful view of water falling over a lengthy rocky ledge sandwiched in a dark green equatorial rain forest. We were hungry to get there!

The Sebwe falls viewed from a distance

Local guides led by Bonny and Kizza Mesearch welcomed us to Kisamba and got us ready for the hike to the waterfalls. The guides are attached to Kisamba Resource Users a local group of reformed poachers involved in community tourism and promotion of environmental conservation. The group works under the supervision of the Uganda Wildlife Authority through Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Mpola mpola, our hike started. Trekked through the local community with coffee and Cassava gardens on the sides of the pathways. Shared brief smiles with the local residents who doubted our determination to make it to the falls.

Fun moments before the real hike

I over heard a lady say “These people are wasting their time, they won’t even make it there,” at this moment second thoughts began running through my minds. Thank God I did not think of any change in plan, I was so eager and hungry for the falls.

As the hike got steep and steeper, we naturally split into groups. The fast hikers, moderate and average hikers who seemed to be taking note of every footstep they made.

A turn behind offered rewarding views of the Valleys, the rift valley floor plains, Hima town, Lakes Kyabatukura & Kayanja Kabaleke all in Kibaale National Park.

The Valleys

Through the dense, quiet equatorial rainforest we made our way. Bare rocks, logs and the thick shrubs couldn’t stop us. We kept on pushing and we left no one behind. The rocky zones made us frequently have breaks to heal our burning knees. We clasped onto the climbing plants as we slipped off the slippery track. But we didn’t give up.

We kept on asking one of the guides how much distance we were left with to make it to the falls and his response was “In the next valley”, I guess he didn’t want to demotivate us.

Every valley had flowing water and it’s no doubt that the Rwenzoris contribute about 65% of the Nile water. Some people say, “The Rwenzori mountains are the real source of the world’s longest river. The Nile”.

Finally, the patience and persistence paid off. After about 4 hours of hiking, we were at the Sebwe falls at an elevation of 2080m.a.s.l. They are a series of 7 water falls with the longest estimated to be about 80metres high. At the falls, the water pounded the rocks from a lengthy cliff, the flowing water was as cold as an ice block from a freezer. The plant cover around the falls nodded gently. Not on the rhythm of the roar though. It is beautiful up there!

Photos taken; memories created but I still wanted to see where the water was coming from. The ‘Ebisyalhalha bye Kisamba’ translated as the waterfalls of Kisamba refreshed the Murchison, Busowoko and Ssezibwa falls memories.

We sealed off the hike with goat roasting and it was another great experience.

Did you know that River Sebwe is later joined by River Nyabyeya downstream and provides water for irrigation at the famous Mubuku irrigation scheme?

As you plan a trip to Kasese, think of Visiting Sebwe falls in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Entry rates for Ugandans are UGX 15,000/= plus nature walk at UGX 10,000/= making a total of UGX 25,000/=. The park accepts cashless payments and details can be found on the site https://ugandawildlife.org/uwa-rates/

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