Domestic Tourists Amazed by Wonders of Bugisu in Explore Elgon Campaign

Bugisu sub region in Eastern Uganda harbors a variety of stunning tourist attractions that many Ugandans from the other parts of the country have not discovered.

This is partly because Uganda’s domestic tourism is in its juvenile stage as the country’s tourism sector is dominated by the international arrivals.

Bugisu sub region has many obscure and diverse attractions great for a private or group holiday.

The region is home to Sipi Falls which presents 3 water falls, with the shortest dropping at 75 meters, the second at 85 meters, and the longest at 100 meters.

Tourists that visit Sipi Falls enjoy the fun activity of abseiling which some people have termed as “mocking God.”

Abseiling is the activity of descending a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled round the body and fixed at a higher point.

The Sipi Falls are arguably the best place for abseiling with the help of the well trained guides.

A part from abseiling on Sipi Falls, the Elgon Region has got other fascinating attractions such as Wanale Falls, the historical site of Semei Kakungulu, a Muganda who captured his Kabaka (King) for the British, climbing Wanale Hill, Mbale Cap (zoo) which is home is to pythons – the large heavy-bodied non-venomous snakes which kill prey by constriction and asphyxiation, Mt Elgon culture and history museum among others.

However, many Ugandans are unaware that all this exist in Elgon.

Domestic tourists climbing Wanale Hill in Wanale Hill challenge.

In a bid to promote the Elgon region as a top tourist destination, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, with agencies – the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC), Uganda Hotel &Tourism Training Institute (UHHTI), and UWRI, and private sector players, on December 20, flagged off a team of more than 300 Ugandans (domestic tourists) to Eastern Uganda route in the domestic tourism promotional drive dubbed “Explore Elgon.”

The campaign aimed to tap into the domestic market and create awareness about the Elgon region as an attractive destination worthy to pay a visit through highlighting the beauty and hidden treasures of the country’s prized tourism sites and attractions strewn around the Eastern region, including Mt. Elgon National Park, Sipi Falls, and Wanale Hill as possible tourist destinations.

The domestic tourists were led by the the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Martin Mugarra.

The Explore Elgon campaign lasted four days and closed on December 23, just a day to Christmas.

The cliff onto which Sipi river falls to form a powerful waterfall.

The team began the journey en route to Eastern Uganda with stops at Namawojolo, a popular spot for sampling sumptuous roasted chicken and gonja via Mabira Forest, and then stopped at the Jinja Nile bridge for scenic views of the mighty River Nile and picture moments, and then continued to Mbale, Eastern Uganda, where the convoy was welcomed with motorcyclists clad in the Explore Elgon green reflector jackets and a Kadodi traditional dance as signature welcome to the land of “Imbalu” at Mbale Courts View Hotel.

The boxing champion, Moses Golola dancing kadodi traditional dance in Mbale City.

The tourists undertook a climbing expedition to the summit of Wanale Hill, where they also visited Kawuka Cave, the site of the beginning of the Bagisu tribe’s customary circumcision rituals.


The tourists took part in various activities such as abseiling on the Sipi Falls, the activity of descending a rock face or other near-vertical surface by using a doubled rope coiled round the body and fixed at a higher point which some tourists termed as “testing God.”

As you are walking down the 100 meter cliff of Sipi Falls, for the first 20 metres, your feet are touching the wall which can enable you jump.

After 20 meters, your feet are not touching on the wall anymore, meaning that you are just hanging in the air with ropes spinning you around as you enjoy the view of the powerful waterfall just on your right hand side.

You will be looking at the wall, seeing the force of the waterfall, and also looking at the bottom in the plunge pool.

As you land on the bottom of the waterfall, there is a huge rock, but the highly trained guide will not allow you land on it.

A specialized team then sends you a stick or grabs a rope and pulls you to the landing site, take you to the view point as you watch other people coming down.

Tourists abseiling at Sipi Falls

The highly trained guides that conduct abseiling at Sipi Falls were trained by Missionaries from Italy and French guides who were brought to Uganda by the climbing club – the Mountain Climbing Uganda (MCU).

The French guide trained Sipi Falls abseiling guides for six years before returning to France last year.

The guides have knowledge to test the strength of the rope, “We consider safety first. Safety is our number one priority,” said Peter, a lead guide at the Falls.

Peter who boasts of 22 years of experience in guiding abseiling, said no accident has ever happened to any individual doing abseiling at Sipi Falls.

“There is no incident that has ever happened here a part from people that scream and pee in their pants. That is what has always happened. You can cry, you can scream and if you pee in your pants, you will run at the pool, jump into it and destroy the evidence,” he said.

The abseiling guides at Sipi Falls charge $50 (180,000 shillings) for foreigners/ non Ugandans, and 150,000 shillings for Ugandans.

They, however, have a package for students who are abseiled at fair cost.

During the Explore Elgon campaign, Minister Mugarra opened the Mbale Courts View Hotel in Mbale City and commended the proprietors for “brilliant” idea as the hotel facility caters to a certain class of guests and is an addition to the hospitality sector, creates employment for the youth in the region.

“We look forward to inviting more investors to come and invest in the hotel spectrum in the Eastern region, which is full of untapped tourism potential,” he said.

Minister Mugarra partaking in local cuisine preparation in Wanale.

The tourism and hotel industries employ an estimated 90% of the youthful workforce in the country, and therefore, according to the Ministry of Tourism, domestic tourism initiatives to promote tourism in host destinations are part of the synergies that the Ministry and its agencies such as UTB are undertaking to ensure the sustainability of the sector even during challenging times such as the COVID-19 that brought the industry to its knees.

Mbale City Mayor, Cassim Namugali applauded the Ministry of Tourism and its partners for the initiative, which he said aimed not only at promoting tourism in the region, but also at creating jobs for the majority of youth and increasing tourism revenues in the Elgon region to impact various livelihoods.

“The Explore Elgon initiative is here to showcase what Eastern Uganda, and in particular Elgon, has to offer the world in terms of tourism. The campaign also serves as an invitation to both local and international visitors to come to the land of Bamasaba and immerse themselves in amazing adventures, ranging from Wanale hilltop climbing to visiting Mt. Elgon national park and enjoying a lump sum of thrilling tourist life adventures at Sipi, as the region is rich in a bouquet of captivating tourism activities to enjoy,” he said.

Mbale Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Asumin Nasike welcomed the initiative, citing it as a great opportunity to showcase to the world the Eastern Uganda’s unique natural endowments, culture, circumcision rituals, culinary, beautiful landscapes, and natural sceneries, among others, with a 24 hour operating day and nightlife economy.


The Elgon region provides the best opportunities for travellers to see one of Uganda’s best altitudes in the world due to its abundant attractions such as the big caldera landscape, heart-pounding Sipi Falls, and breath-taking Wanale Hill among others.

In Mt. Elgon National Park, there are more than 300 different bird species, including the Tacazze sunbird, Black-collared Apalis, Kite, and Jackson’s Francolin among others.

Rock and tree hyraxes, blue monkeys, defassa waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, duiker, forest hogs, leopards, civets, serval cats, spotted hyenas, and other rodents are just a few of the animals that live in the area.

Mt. Elgon is home to two popular tribes in Eastern Uganda: the Bagisu and the Sabiny, who co-exist in the mists of Eastern Uganda.

The Sabiny traditional dance in Sebei attracts tourists in Elgon region.

Mt. Elgon measures an elevation of 4,321 metres (14,177 ft) and is ranked 17th on the African continent, with its highest peak known as Wagagai.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda’s tourism industry was growing at robust, contributing 7.7% of GDP in FY2018–2019 and being the top foreign exchange earner for the previous five years.

In addition to collectively protecting and conserving the country’s abundant natural resources, the sector employed over 677,000 young people.


The post Domestic Tourists Amazed by Wonders of Bugisu in Explore Elgon Campaign first appeared on ChimpReports.

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