Sipi Falls and Nairobi

Sipi Falls

Sipi Falls
While not originally in my plans, I had heard only good things about Sipi Falls, a set of 3 waterfalls located in the rural mountains of Uganda, only a few hours away from Jinja.  I decided to head there next.
It turned out to be a little more complex to get there than I had originally anticipated, and I had to switch dala-dalas four times until I finally reached the town of Sipi, a population of only a few thousand.  After spending some time recently in bustling cities such as Kigali and Kampala, it was nice to be in a more rural area.  The mountains were covered with thick and lush vegetation.  The guesthouse which I would be staying, the Crow’s Nest additionally provided a great view of the lower falls (the main one).  Incidentally, it was also the cheapest accommodation I’ve stayed at thus far.

Sipi Falls
View of the lower falls from the Crow’s Nest.
Sipi Falls
Some of the beautiful scenery.
Sipi Falls
Kids playing on the hill.

After depositing my stuff in my room and checking in, I set off in search of the falls.  While the staff at the Crow’s Nest insisted that I should have a guide to accompany me, I had read that it was possible to do alone, and it was nice to have some peace and quiet with nature.  The first falls I went to see were the middle falls, and I had to pass through the town to reach them.  The people of Sipi had to be the friendliest people I have encountered thus far, with everybody saying hello, and the children running after me with big smiles on their faces.  The middle falls were located behind a guesthouse, a short hike up a hill.  For the hike up the hill, I was even joined by a dog that stayed there, a black lab of some sort.  He seemed familiar with the path, and was eager to lead me up the hill to the waterfall.  Although a bit muddy, the falls were a beautiful sight.  It was even possible to walk behind this one, for a cool vantage point.

Sipi Falls
The middle falls from afar.
Sipi Falls
Directly behind the middle falls.
Sipi Falls
My guide for the middle falls.

After dropping the dog back at the guesthouse, I set off for the lower falls, the largest of the three, and the one that I could see from my guesthouse.  This one involved a downward hike.  Here I was met by some local boys who insisted that they serve as my “guide”.  When I politely declined, they then tried to collect money from me, demanding an “entrance fee”.  When that didn’t work, they resorted to claiming that there was a fee to use the ladder at the base of the mountain near the falls and to pay them now.  Once again, I was able to brush them off and set down the mountain.  It took about a half hour to get down to the base, but it was well worth it to get a good view of the lower falls.  There’s something about waterfalls that always astounds me to see up close, whether it be the gigantic Niagara Falls, or a smaller falls, like this one.
It was a trip well worth, and I was glad to see another bit of Uganda a bit off the beaten path.

Sipi Falls
Hike down to the Lower Falls.
Sipi Falls
Lower Falls up close.
Sipi Falls
You could see for miles and miles.

Nairobi
After an unpleasant night bus experience, I arrived to Nairobi.  Nairobi is a very large and chaotic city, with a reputation of terrible traffic and robbery.  It is also commonly referred to as “Nai-robbery”.  I did not intend to stay here long.  There were a few sights I wanted to see, as well as catch up with Murphy, whom I climbed Kilimanjaro with.  He was now volunteering in the suburbs of Nairobi.  I made plans to meet up with him and a few others the following day.

Our first stop the next day was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  It is a rehabilitation center for orphaned or injured baby elephants that nurses them back to health in hopes to reintroduce them back to the wild.  As such, it is only open to visitors for one hour each day, from 11am-noon, as they want to limit the elephants’ exposure to humans.  True to form, we were delayed in a Nairobi traffic jam, and arrived a little later than our intended time of 11.  It was still an amazing experience however.  The baby elephants trotted out to the designated area one by one, similar to a sports team.  They eagerly approached the trainers, who were holding bottles, and began to feed.  After feeding, they began to frolic about and play in the mud.  It was very cool to see them interact with each other, as I had never seen that many baby elephants at once.  One especially dirty one even wandered up to us., and we were able to pat its trunk a bit, before it was called back.
The trainers also explained how each of the elephants were found, often their mothers were victims of poachers or the baby elephants had stumbled into a well, which aren’t often well marked.  Since these elephants are so young, they still depend on milk to survive, and their herds aren’t able to take care of them.  At around four years of age, they are then attempted to be reintroduced to wild herds, a process of habituating the baby with the new herd, until they accept him or her as one of their own.  I find elephants to be extremely fascinating creatures, and their intelligence is said to be extremely high in regards to the animal kingdom.

The baby elephants with some of their handlers.
The baby elephants with some of their handlers.
Just enjoying the mud.
Just enjoying the mud.
One little guy came up to say hello.
One little guy came up to say hello.
Elephant paradise.
Elephant paradise.

After our hour with the elephants was up, we headed to the Giraffe Sanctuary, which was close by.  This sanctuary is the home of 11 Rothschild Giraffe, a subspecies that is extremely endangered in Kenya.  The sanctuary workers walked around with pellets, which are a type of treat for the giraffes.  We were then allowed to feed the giraffes the pellets one by one, as the giraffes eagerly extended their long tongues to receive the treats.  There was even an elevated surface, where we could interact with the giraffes at eye level. We were also allowed to pet the giraffes, taking care, as they have been known to headbutt occasionally.  I had previously not regarded giraffes with much interest, but I now have a new found admiration for these magnificent creatures after being allowed to see them up close.

After our hour with the elephants was up, we headed to the Giraffe Sanctuary, which was close by.  This sanctuary is the home of 11 Rothschild Giraffe, a subspecies that is extremely endangered in Kenya.  The sanctuary workers walked around with pellets, which are a type of treat for the giraffes.  We were then allowed to feed the giraffes the pellets one by one, as the giraffes eagerly extended their long tongues to receive the treats.  There was even an elevated surface, where we could interact with the giraffes at eye level. We were also allowed to pet the giraffes, taking care, as they have been known to headbutt occasionally.  I had previously not regarded giraffes with much interest, but I now have a new found admiration for these magnificent creatures after being allowed to see them up close.

Feeding some nutritional pellets to this fellow.
Feeding some nutritional pellets to this fellow.
Check out that tongue.
Check out that tongue.
Simply beautiful creatures.
Simply beautiful creatures.
Giraffe closeup.
Giraffe closeup.

Our last stop of the day was the famous restaurant, “Carnivore”.  As the name implies, it was a meat heavy buffet, similar to a Brazilian steakhouse.  Servers would come to us with different cuts of meat, offering to slice some on our plates.  In addition to the standard beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb, some of the specials that day were rabbit, crocodile, and ox balls.  After dealing with a lack of quality meats these past two months, we definitely took advantage of the all you can eat service, and had a leisurely midday meal.  While expensive compared to my normal daily budget, it was money well spent, and a nice way to splurge.  It was then time to say goodbye to Murphy and his two friends, Antonio and Alanna, as they had to head back to their volunteer house.

The sizzling meat.
The sizzling meat.
Alanna, myself, Antonio, and Murphy, ready to eat.
Alanna, myself, Antonio, and Murphy, ready to eat.

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