A spray of love from nature, a gentle shower… droplets on my face, the sight of the rainbow at my feet shrouded in a mighty roar; that was my first encounter with the mighty Murchison Falls. An entire river squeezes its strength and power through a 7 metre wide crack in the rocks bursting forth and pouring 40 meters downhill to continue its journey. The sound is boisterous, but I can assure you that the view is breath-taking. You would want time to stand still as you take it in using literally all your senses. Sir Samuel Baker and his wife Florence were the first Europeans to find the falls and Baker decided to name them after Sir Roderick Murchison the then president of the Royal Geographical Society. In the 1970s during the regime of Idi Amin the falls were renamed Kabalega Falls after Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro but the name was changed back to Murchison Falls following the downfall of Idi Amin.
Once upon a time not too long ago, 2011 to be exact, about 8km from Jinja town was a spectacular scenic spot with a kilometre of raging large rapids, forested islands in the Nile and an abundance of bird life on River Nile. This area was famous for white water rafting and kayaking.
This though is no more because the raging power along the first 8 kilometres of the Victoria Nile was submerged when the power of this water was diverted to form the new hydro-electric dam. This portion of falls and rapids was and is still known as Bujagali or Budhagali deriving its name from the Bachwezi spiritual leader called Mandwa Budhagali who lived nearby.Locals believe that the spirit Budhagali has manifested itself in over 30 human spiritual leaders. The succession procedure follows that whoever claims to be the new spiritual leader following the death of the previous one is given the task of floating across the river on a piece of backcloth, to demonstrate his/her magical powers. If he/she performs this task successfully, then he/she is declared the new spiritual leader. This ceremony takes place in the presence of other spiritual leaders, the local chiefs and the residents. I believe God wasn’t done with the beauty that once was Bujagali Falls and so at the spot where they were submerged a beautiful lake was formed from the water that collected and in memory of the Bujagali Falls we now have Bujagali Lake.
Those that have watched the Sound of Music remember the Mother Superior say to Maria “when the Lord closes a door somewhere he opens a window”….. Well, with the submersion of Bujagali Falls, a window in the form of Itanda Falls was opened. This hidden jewel close by to the former Bujagali Falls is now being sought out and is slowly starting to gain popularity. I honestly think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you visited the source of the Nile and left Jinja without going by the Itanda Falls to see the Nile go over 3 levels of rapids. Looking at the Nile powerfully go by and wave playfully as if to say “see me go” isn’t a sight to miss. The sound of the Nile conquering the rapids to ensure it doesn’t miss a beat on its way to the Mediterranean Sea- now that’s musical! Locals still believe that this place is sacred and refer to it as a Blessed Place. They go to seek blessings and miracles at the base of a tree nearby.
You danced gracefully with River Sezibwa in the River dance and now I bring you the Sezibwa Falls. With a beautiful hissing sound the falls emerge from the rocks above split into two and then fall down into a catchment allowing the river to continue calmly on his way. The serene atmosphere at the falls I would think is what made this place quite the attraction to the Buganda Kings (Ba Ssekabaka). It is said that Ssekabaka Mwanga II planted a giant tree at the site out of respect and high esteem. Later on Ssekabaka Mutesa II also planted another tree in the same place as a sign of reverence as well. Many Baganda and non-Baganda now flock the place to seek wealth, marriage stability, and prosperity among many other things. I have heard that it was customary back in the day and a practice for any Muganda going by that way to throw a handful of grass or stones into the source at Namukono for blessing upon blessing.
Tucked away in what is known as the Switzerland of Uganda are the 27 meter high Kisiizi Falls found on River Rushoma in Rukungiri District. A gentle shower of water droplets welcomes visitors from about 100 meters away to Kisiizi Falls. These droplets capture and reflect the hot Ugandan sun to create beautiful rainbows. Now isn’t that something you would want to experience firsthand? Like most places in Uganda there is a story, a very true one at that about the Kisiizi Falls. In the very olden days long before the missionaries came, if a girl fell pregnant before she got married, her father and brother would walk her to the top of the falls and push her down where she would meet her death. The practice is said to have stopped when one girl pulled her father and brother along with her when they pushed her down the falls. As if to counter the previous negativity one of the best hospitals in the western region- Kisiizi Hospital was set up and is now dedicated to giving life and restoring hope to thousands.
Sipi Falls! And the assumption is that it is just one falls. Truth is it is actually a series of three waterfalls but the highest one, about 95 meters high is the more known one.These waterfalls are found in Eastern Uganda in Kapchorwa. Breathtaking beauty that causes you to stop and worship the Creator, a slippery hike along the slopes of Mount Elgon and cave encounters is what you will experience as you do your 7km loop around all three waterfalls.
Time does us an injustice for I would have told you about the Mpanga Falls that harbor the nearly extinct cycad forest, the Mahoma waterfall which is small but possesses such an attractive power shower, the Mungiro waterfalls, the Nkusi waterfalls and the Karuma Falls.