‘The best things in life can not be seen or touched, but are felt by the heart.’ Where I come from, this is a popular saying but I stand to disagree.
All my life, I have been very adventurous and have managed to visit many beautiful places in my beloved country therefore I understand exactly what they mean when they say “the land of a thousand hills” or “the home of Africa’s unique Gorillas species.”
I must confess though, that until recently, I had not realised exactly what the integration of the East African countries really means to explorative people like me.
All you will ever hear, are the trade advantages, we are bound to share with our sister countries or even the political federation. Has anyone ever imagined the actual implication of free movement of people?
Well, I was enjoying my ride home from work on a beautiful Thursday evening as I nodded to the rhythm of the rock music. I was playing in my car when suddenly my phone rang. It was a friend I went to school with in Uganda.
“Rene, I have some good news,” she said.
“Anita, Stella, Ronnie and I are planning to visit eastern Uganda. If you want to join us, confirm your attendance by midday tomorrow,” Janet added.
For long we had planned to visit Mount Elgon, but in vain. This was the chance now that the weekend was also around the corner. Half the night, I stayed awake only imagining what it would be like, to visit a strange place and how much fun I would have with a bunch of long lost buddies. As I contemplated, my mind had already been made up!
“The suggestion is great and the timing is perfect,” I thought. So I confirmed my attendance and opted to travel by air, after all Kampala is only 45 minutes from here.
By the time I touched base in Entebbe all my friends were waiting impatiently at Entebbe International Airport. The excitement was unbelievable, we giggled like small kids and had fun the whole night.
Early, the next day, we set off for eastern Uganda, in Ronnie’s Audi A6 series. This German automobile is damn comfortable. We sang almost all the way as we caught up on lost time. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Mbale, a town in eastern Uganda.
I saw Mount Elgon, and from a distance, it reminded me of my home, hilly Rwanda.
“I think am gonna love our stay here,” I said with a wide smile as we unpacked our bags at one of the resorts.
The reception was unbelievable and so were the meals and accommodation. But my imagination went ahead of all this as I engaged in a conversation with one of the guests at the resort. He said a lot about eastern Uganda but one thing and only one thing stuck to my mind.
“We must go there,” I said. Under my instructions we drove to Kapchorwa the next day, another small town. As we found our way through the sharp corners of the hilly Sebei land, I saw huge rocks and a sign post.
We got closer and it read, ‘The first phase of Sipi Falls.’
“Yes! We are finally here” I exclaimed. Places like these normally have tour guides and we asked for one.
“Are you going to reside at the rest camp, or do you simply want to view the falls?” David Musimenta, the tour guide asked.
“We would like to know more about these falls,” Stella answered.
As he narrated the history of the place, we realised that the falls actually pour their waters in three phases and this was simply phase one.
We became even more curious to see phase two. We hiked over 200 metres and finally arrived at the second phase. We all gaped in awe for a moment.
To say that it was magnificent would be an understatement but I can add that at this phase, I saw true beauty in its natural perfection.
The final phase was breath taking as well. According to the guide, the waters of Sippi come from mount Elgon and pour out naturally.
“This is the most beautiful place I have been to in years,” Jane added.
The falls pour their waters in a valley of solid rock and at the foothills where the water pours, there seems to be some sort of boiling point.
My friends and I got closer and for a while we got lost in a moment of joy as we danced under the sparkling waters of the Sipi.
“Someone should take me back to reality,” Stella screamed.
We saw all the corners of the magnificent Sippi and later made it back to Kampala. All the way this experience was the topic of discussion.
Since then, my level of curiosity about East Africa’s hidden beauty has increased and I can not help but wonder, how much more beauty we are yet to discover.