Sezibwa Falls is a Buganda Cultural Heritage Site that is found in Mukono District. It is situated only 20 miles on the Kampala – Jinja Highway and about 1.5km off. The Sezibwa Falls preserves an ancient African culture and has for ages been a site of traditional cultural rituals for traditional believers.
However, the captivating natural beauty of Sezibwa Falls has since transformed the site into a popular destination for exciting nature adventures as well as cultural experiences. Visitors to the Sezibwa Falls are rewarded with refreshing views of the waterfalls stambling over the rocks with a gush, a lush green environment, an impressive birdlife & wildlife, beautiful rocks, and a serene, peaceful and cool atmosphere.
Schools organize study and picnic trips to the site while institutions such as universities have found a vital site for research projects.
Adventures at the Sezibwa Falls
Nature walks & sightseeing:
The scenery is simply amazing! The calm river emerges from the thickets, stambles over the sharp rocks & plunges into a whirlpool 7 meters below before continuing on a very calm course. It is a sight you won’t get enough of. The sound of the gushing waterfalls, and the cool breeze blowing on your face while you watch from accross the bridge a few meters away is very refreshing & splendid. There are walking trails around Sezibwa you can take on to explore the beautiful surrounding and sight beautiful wildlife and sceneries. The big eucalyptus trees, bamboo, thickets and nearby forest harbor plenty of birds, butterflies and some monkeys. Otters and tadpole’s can be sighted in the river while mongoose and wild cats are known to exist but are rarely sighted. On hot days it is common to find snakes such as green mambas, and cobras. Beyond Sezibwa are local farms, grasslands, and tea & sugar cane plantations sprawling across hills.
You'll also encounter the different trees species that are a source of medicinal herbs, an example is a big wild olive tree used for treating sore throat. It is believed to have been planted by the Kabaka Mwanga.
Big sharp rocks span accross the falls to form a sort of cliff. These are quite challenging to hike around, but it only gets exciting with all the great views from the top and some wildlife encounters such as skinks, lizards & sometimes snake subbathing especially on hot days.
For experienced swimmers, theres no better thrill than jumping from the rocks and plunging into the cool whirlpool.
Sezibwa Falls is a Buganda Heritage Site that preserves an important ancient culture that is now rare after introduction of foreign religions. Visit the shrines and learn about the interesting traditional religion of the Baganda people and the ancient spirits that are believed to have created the Sezibwa Falls. At the shrines you encounter items used in traditional worship such as coffee beans, spears, cowrie shells, bark cloth, calabashes, and pots, items that were used by the ancestors. Spirits are associated with ancestors hence traditionalists believe in using these ancient items to connect with the gods/spirits. You could also find traditionalists worshiping and offering sacrifices to Sezibwa and other gods.
With about 150 bird species, Sezibwa is an impressive birding destination. As you walk the trail from the entrance towards the falls, scan the nearing trees for the Olive sunbird. The whirlpool & river are a favorite spot for Cormorant while the big eucalyptus trees around the camping grounds are common with Woodland Kingfishers, and Parrots. There are trails leading from the falls into the surrounding habitats of acacia thickets, bamboo, and the lush jungle forest. Look out for White-throated Bee-eater, Little Green Sunbird, Red-eyed Dove, Green-headed Sunbird, Lesser-stripped Swallows, Black-and-white Mankins, Great Blue Turaco, and White-chested Nigro Finch. Allow up to 3 hours to maximize your bird list.
A few meters from the falls is a neat camping ground. Look to spend a night away from the stressful towns in this beautiful and serene cultural heritage site. In the meantime accommodation facilities are being constracted just outside of the site.
A bar-restaurant facility is available at the camping grounds but one needs to make prior communication to have meals prepared for you, otherwise theres usually only drinks stocked.
Sezibwa's Legend & the ancient Traditional Culture
Traditionalists tell of an interesting legend about the origins of the Sezibwa River & formation of the Sezibwa Falls. The legend has it that a woman called Nakkungu Tebatuusa gave birth to a set of twins, but in the form of two rivers, that is, Wasswa & Kato, which are Sezibwa and Bwanda respectively. (Note that in the traditional Buganda culture, boy twins are referred to by Wasswa & Kato, Wasswa being the first born).
After birth, River Bwanda flowed a trouble-free course to the east while River Sezibwa flowed westwards but on a rather difficult course of obstacles. However Sezibwa was able to get across all obstacles on his way that included such enormous rocks. It is this ability that impressed many and leading to a local verbatim “Sizibwa Kibuubo” which translates “nothing blocks my path”. The name Sezibwa originates from this verbatim and directly translates “nothing blocks me”.
It is claimed Sezibwa’s strength to overcome obstacles is attributed a strong backing of the spirits, hence to say Sezibwa was very strong spiritually. It is actually told that a spirit called “Nalongo Kubbo” was responsible for the river’s success over the rocks at the Sezibwa Falls. After guiding Sezibwa over the rocks and the subsequent formation of Sezibwa Falls, the spirit “Nnalongo Kubbo” is then said to have established its home in a cave in the rocks adjacent the falls. Nnalongo Kubbo takes the form of a large snake and traditionalists at the site claim it does come out once in a while to sunbath on the rocks.
Several other spirits are believed to be at this site and traditional believers come to pray to them & offer sacrifices. Though often associated with the olden days of the African Traditional Society, a number of people to-date still practice this ancient culture of spirit worship, known among the Baganda people as “Okusamila”. Traditionalists ask for different favors from the different spirits that are known to deliver them such as riches, marriage strengthening, healing of different ailments and diseases, fighting enemies, blessings & removal of curses, provide rain, a good harvest, etc.. There are traditional healers that set up shrines & these act as the oracles of the spirits.
Items you find at the shrines and are used in the spirit worship include burning firewood. The smoke from the fires is believed to carry the prayers to the spirits in the atmosphere. Others are pots, bark cloth, cowrie shells, calabashes, & coffee beans. These are items that were used by our ancestors in the ancient days and traditionalists believe having these items easily connects them with these ancient spirits. Traditionalists also offer sacrifices to Sezibwa Falls, and on your visit you could find them slaughtering animals and throwing them into the falls. By this they are feeding the spirits. To them Sezibwa is not an ordinary river and waterfall.
So for this Sezibwa is an important Buganda Cultural Heritage Site, protecting an ancient traditional culture that has been pushed out from almost all the African societies with the introduction of foreign religions. Given its serene and peaceful atmosphere & the believed presence of strong spirits, it is not surprising that Sezibwa was a favorite spot of Buganda Kings for retreats and carrying out kingdom rituals. For instance, on ascending onto the throne in 1884, it is reported that Kabaka Mwanga based at the site to appoint new chiefs & issue assignments to his subjects. He also planted an Olive tree at Sezibwa that still stands to-date.
Sezibwa Falls is conveniently located 45 minutes drive from Kampala, making it an ideal stop-over for tours to Jinja and Eastern Uganda. Allow up to an hour to experience this spectacular cultural heritage site.
We suggest the following safari packages: