Sezibwa Falls

Sezibwa Falls, Uganda

Some days you just have to skip out of town. The smog, the fumes, the constant honking. You crave some serenity. Some serenity now! But you don’t have a whole lot of time to spare. Well, thank goodness for Sezibwa Falls. A fantastic oasis for nature lovers just an hour outside of Kampala.

This Buganda heritage site is thought of as a powerful place where many come for blessings. In local legend, the Sezibwa and Bwanda rivers were born as twins from a woman known as Nakkungu Tebatuusa. The Bwanda River flowed East towards the mother’s village. But the Sezibwa River cut it’s own path and flowed West. Doing so it passed a number of difficult obstacles. Its name derives from a local phrase: sezibibwa kkubo which means “no obstacles can stop me from moving along”.

The park that surrounds the falls is large, green, and full of trails. For nature lovers, there are hikes along the river. These cut through dense, and often muddy forests so it’s advisable to wear decent hiking shoes. A much-loved spot for bird watchers, the paths hosts all sorts of animals, most notably the bush and red-tailed monkeys.

Sezibwa FallsFor those that crave a little more excitement, there are walks that go up to and then over the falls. You cross right above the torrent of water cascading down a seven-meter drop. Further along you will find rock climbing and a number of geologic structures. If Earth Science is your thing, you will find plenty to gawk at here with large rock outcrops carved out by the river. In fact, the area is quite popular with geologists, so it’s not uncommon to see teams of scientists out and about collecting data.

If you have a thing for jumping off of cliffs into swirling pools of water, Sezibwa Falls has that covered too. The pool just below the falls is a popular cliff jumping location. The current here is strong, so be advised. However, if you’re a decent swimmer, it’s likely you can handle it. From the base of the falls, the river flows further down, cutting through large grassy fields. There are a few small natural pools to swim in and relax. However, the second we began disrobing to go in, we noticed one local worker grab a rather long stick and sit down near us. Fair enough. The current was quite strong and it’s not difficult to imagine getting swept down stream if you wander too deep into the river. However, in our little outcrop of calm water, we were perfectly safe.

There is a small restaurant on a hill that overlooks the falls. However, mostly warm beer and sodas are served here, so it will do you well to bring food. Picnicking on the side of the river is not only lovely and relaxing but incredibly popular. Large families with baskets and boxes of packed food come prepared with mats (actual picnic tables being limited) and make a day of it. And for those that like to get close to nature without getting informal with it, there are public toilets that are well maintained just near the parking lot/entrance.

To get to Sezibwa Falls, you simply take the Jinja-Kampala Rd. The Falls are located in Mukono District about 30-60 minutes drive east of the city, depending on traffic. When you start seeing signs for sugar plantations everywhere, you’re getting close. Then, when you reach the Kayanja Trading Center (there will be a sign on your right) turn right down the dirt road. You’ll go down this road for about 1.5km. Follow the signs (or locals advice), and you’ll come to a gate. The entry fee is about 5,000 UGX per person.

Sezibwa Falls

In addition to self-tours (which are easy and free), you can hire a guide to take you on a number of tours throughout the area. Inquire with the gate attendant, and they will happily show you who to speak with. Nature walks and visits to sugar plantations and tea estates are just a number of options they have available. And if you find yourself with a little extra time and are simply too sleepy from jumping off cliffs all day to head home, you are welcome to camp.

So grab your swimsuit, a nice pair of hiking boots, and pack a lunch. Oh and did I mention that local lore has it that a large python named Nolongo inhabits the area? Well that’s what they say, anyway. But don’t let that deter you from going. Sezibwa Falls is one of the nicest, most relaxing places you can go without spending your entire day in the car (or the back of a matatu). I mean, I love Kampala, I love the chaos and vibrancy that flows along its streets. But there’s nothing like sitting on the top of a waterfall and watching tiny lizards shimmy past you. Get out and see this beautiful country. Even if you only have a day to spare.

Thanks to Emily Goodrich for the photos!

About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at