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Ssezibwa Falls in Uganda – Attractions and Background

by | May 6, 2024 | 0 comments

Uganda’s hidden Cultural treasure

Located 32 kilometers from Kampala city along the main road between Kampala and Jinja in the District of Mukono, Ssezibwa Falls is a natural wonder formed by water passing through a narrow opening in rocks and cascading at a high speed of 17 meters into a deep pool that is approximately 14 meters deep. The vicinity surrounding the falls is an ideal spot for unwinding after an extensive wildlife safari in Uganda or prior to embarking on activities such as Whitewater rafting or bungee jumping at the source of the Nile River.

The term “Ssezibwa” is a local expression denoting “something endless”. The falls hold significant cultural and spiritual value for the Baganda people and are among the top attractions in Uganda. The management of the site falls under the Buganda culture and tourism department.

Characterized by sharp-edged rocks and a sizable pool below, Ssezibwa Falls sees the river Ssezibwa flowing all the way to Lake Kyoga. The area surrounding the falls is inhabited by small primates like Vervet and red-tailed monkeys, as well as snakes such as the African cobra, green mambas, and horned adder. Other wildlife species include otters, tadpoles, mongooses, and wild cats.

The Ssezibwa falls hold great significance in Buganda’s history, culture, and traditions. This cultural value enhances the allure and charm of the falls. According to Buganda folklore, there is a belief in the mystical powers of the Ssezibwa River. Legend has it that a woman named Nakangu Tebatuusa had a disagreement with her husband, Nsubuga Sebwaata, and returned to her parents’ home. Her father advised her to reconcile with her husband, and she was accompanied by her mother part of the way. As she neared her marital home, she grew weary and gave birth to twins in the form of water. Her husband eventually found her with the help of a man who had spotted her heading towards the forest. They discovered a pool of water flowing, which later split into two rivers known as Bwanda and Sezibwa.

Bwanda flowed towards the East to Nyenga at birth, while Sezibwa encountered numerous obstacles as it flowed towards the west. A spirit named Nalongo Nnkubo aided Sezibwa in overcoming these obstacles. As a result, shrines were constructed in the vicinity of the waterfalls to worship these spirits. In addition to Nalongo Kkubo, other deities such as Walumbe (god of death and life), Musoke (Rains), Ddungu (hunting), Kibuuka (war), Musisi (earthquakes), and Mukasa (fertility, wealth, and good health) are revered. The legend of Sezibwa and Bwanda has led to a high regard for twins in Buganda, with their birth being considered a special blessing and rituals performed to appease the gods. The parents of twins are given special names like Salongo (Father) or Nalongo (Mother). It was customary for anyone passing by the waterfalls to throw stones into the water for blessings.

The Kings (Kabakas) of Buganda used to visit this place to seek blessings and good health. During a journey between two of his palaces in 1889, Kabaka Mwanga planted a wild olive tree known as the Mwanga tree. This tree, which is now over 100 years old, was a testament to the captivating beauty of the waterfalls that enchanted him. King Muteesa II also planted a tree as a sign of respect and acknowledgment of the spiritual significance of the waterfalls and the river Ssezibwa. In 2002, King Ronald Mwenda Mutebi II visited the site to officially designate it as one of Buganda’s important tourism destinations.

The kings may not be present, but individuals from various regions of Uganda continue to visit the site in search of blessings from the deities for their well-being, employment, offspring, livelihoods, and loved ones. Traditional healers, known as medicine men, either call upon the gods or utilize indigenous herbs to treat ailments such as illnesses, toothaches, stomach discomforts, and skin conditions. Offerings made to gain the favor of the deities may consist of items like coffee beans, eggs, local brew, poultry, or livestock like sheep and goats. These animals and birds are sacrificed at the top of the waterfall before being cast down to satisfy the gods and nourish Ssezibwa. It is not uncommon to encounter deceased animals at the base of the falls.

It is worth mentioning that despite the prevalence of these cultural customs, the Anglican Church possesses some land in close proximity to the waterfalls. Followers of Christianity visit the region for spiritual retreats and contemplation. The same waters are utilized for conducting baptism ceremonies.

How to reach Sezibwa Falls

To get to Sezibwa Falls from Kampala, you will need to travel approximately 30km. Once you reach the junction leading to the falls, you will encounter a murram road. It is advisable to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle, especially during the rainy season, to navigate through this rough terrain. Drive cautiously and pay attention to avoid missing the main junction that will take you to the falls. Although there is a signpost directing you to the Ssezibwa River Resort, it can be easily overlooked.

Upon entering through the main gate constructed from reeds, you will be greeted by the stunning scenery and the soothing sounds of the waterfalls. The area is abundant with trees and remains relatively untouched. As you explore further into the site, you will not only discover the waterfalls but also a bridge that spans across the river downstream. This bridge provides an excellent vantage point to admire the falls and capture memorable photographs. On the other side of the bridge, you will find rocks, trees, and well-maintained grass, all contributing to a serene environment perfect for relaxation.

 

Safari activities on Sezibwa fall

Engage in bird watching while exploring the Sezibwa falls:

The forest and sugar plantation surrounding Sezibwa River provide a habitat for various bird species such as the white-browed robin-chat, yellow-ramped tinker bird, great blue Turaco, common bulbul, and many others.

Embark on a hiking adventure at Sezibwa falls in Mukono:

The Sezibwa area boasts well-maintained hiking trails that offer hikers a wonderful walking experience along the water.

Enjoy a camping getaway at Sezibwa falls:

Sezibwa Safari also offers camping facilities for those seeking a memorable camping experience, with the soothing sound of water flowing from River Sezibwa creating a magical ambiance at the camping sites.

Experience Mountain biking at Sezibwa falls:

Mountain bikes are available for rent for enthusiasts looking to explore the forest edge trails and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding area at Sezibwa Safari.

Immerse yourself in a forest and nature walk at Sezibwa falls:

The Mabira dense rainforest boasts over 68 kilometers of well-developed trails, making it an ideal destination for adventurous walks amidst a variety of primate species such as the red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus monkey, and grey-cheeked mangabey.

Discover the wonders of Mabira Central Forest Reserve:

Covering an area of 306 square kilometers, Mabira Central Forest Reserve is home to 312 species of trees, 315 bird species, 218 butterflies, 97 moth species, and 23 small mammal species, making it a rich biodiversity hotspot.

Participate in environmental research and education at Sezibwa Falls:

Environmental education plays a crucial role in tourism, with Griffin Falls Camp offering informative lectures tailored to all visitors as part of the safari activities package.

Rock climbing

Rock climbing is one of the thrilling activities available during the tour of Sezibwa falls. It is an enjoyable sport that requires participants to be physically and mentally fit in order to have a positive experience. At Sezibwa falls, climbers can ascend to the top of the rocks, descend the falls, and traverse the rocky terrain until they reach the designated endpoint. The rocks at Sezibwa falls are large and sharp, forming a picturesque backdrop for the falls. Along the climb, one may encounter fascinating creatures like lizards, skinks, or snakes, adding to the adventure. Upon reaching the summit, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the waterfalls and the majestic river Sempaya. To ensure safety, participants are required to wear protective headgear while rock climbing, as accidents can happen, albeit infrequently.

Cultural experience.

During your visit to Sezibwa Falls on safari, you will have the chance to partake in a remarkable cultural tour. This will enable you to engage in meaningful conversations with members of the local community. Throughout this cultural experience, you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide who will lead you to various areas, including the vicinity of the falls. Here, you will have the opportunity to explore shrines where traditional doctors provide worship and perform cultural rituals. Additionally, you will visit a traditional healer who specializes in removing curses, as well as primary schools, sugarcane and tea plantations, and several other noteworthy locations. By participating in these cultural activities, guests will gain insight into the historical cultural practices of the local people, as well as learn about their ancient gods and other fascinating aspects.

Conclusion

Ssezibwa Falls transcends being just a mere destination; it stands as a living legend. It harmonizes nature and culture, intertwining history, spirituality, and the marvels of the natural world. Nestled in the heart of Uganda, this hidden treasure invites exploration of unparalleled beauty and significance. While strolling along its paths, listening to its cascading waters, and inhaling its fragrances, you become a part of a narrative passed down through generations a tale that unfolds in every rustling leaf, every shimmering droplet, and the whispers of the breeze. Ssezibwa Falls epitomizes the enduring bond between humanity and the environment, a tribute to the awe and enigma of the world that surrounds us.

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