Ssezibwa falls is situated 43 kilometers away from Kampala city in the east along Kampala-Jinja road in Mukono district in attractions in Uganda. Although people believe that the falls were born by a human being many years ago and its twin is called Bwanda, researchers say that the falls were as a result of water squeezing through narrow opening of rocks and dropping at a faster speed of 17 meters into a large pool. The environment around Ssezibwa is good for relaxation after a long day of travel, a wildlife safari or visiting the source of River Nile in Jinja for bungee jumping, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding or white water rafting. The name Ssezibwa is a Luganda word meaning “something endless”. The falls are believed to be an important cultural and spiritual site for the people of Buganda and people flock in here for fortunes, blessings and wealth. Ssezibwa falls are among the top things to do on your Ugandan safari. This site is managed and controlled by the administration of Buganda culture and tourism department.
The Ssezibwa falls have several rocks with sharp edges which make a sweet hissing sound before falling in a large pool below 14 meters deep. From the falls, River Ssezibwa falls all the way to the wetlands of Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga. Ssezibwa falls is surrounded by thick vegetation cover which is a home to snakes i.e. green mambas, the African cobra, horned adder, small primates such as vervet monkeys and red-tailed monkeys and other animals like the tadpoles, wild cats and mongooses. The Ssezibwa falls play a very important role in Buganda’s history, culture and beliefs. The cultural importance of Ssezibwa falls adds to a mystery and attractiveness of the falls. The Baganda believe that there are super natural powers at Ssezibwa falls because it was born by a human being. The Baganda people stay that a woman called Nakangu Tebatuusa had family problems with the husband called Nsubuga Sebwaata and she decided to live her marital home back to her parents but her parents told her to go back to her marriage and sort out her marital issues with her husband. Nakangu was escorted back by her mother who left her close to their home but as she was about to get home she got tired and she decided to rest, as she was resting she gave birth to two twins inform of water. Her husband found her at a time she being led by another man who had seen her from the bush and they saw water flowing which later became the two rivers Bwanda and Ssezibwa.
After birth one twin river named Bwanda flew in the eastern direction to Nyenga while Ssezibwa flew towards the west. Ssezibwa was helped by a spirit called Nalongo Nnkubo through the obstacles. The Nalongo Nnkubo spirits settled in an area around the waterfalls and the shrines were built to worship them. Apart from Nalongo Nnkubo, there are other small gods in the area such as Walumbe the god of death and life, Ddungu for hunting, Kibuuka for war, Musoke for rains, Mukasa for fertility, health and wealth, and Musisi for earthquakes. Because of this the rivers are highly valued in Buganda. Their birth are looked at as special blessings and rituals are always performed to make peace with gods. The parents to these rivers have special names like Salongo for the man and Nalongo for the woman. It was traditional for everyone passing close to Ssezibwa water falls to throw stones into the waters in order to get blessings.
The Buganda kings (Kabaka) use to come to Ssezibwa to seek blessings and good wealth. There is Mwanga tree with over 100 years which Kabaka Mwanga planted while on his journey between two palaces in 1889. The Kabaka of Buganda was amazed by the natural beauty and he decided to stay in this place for some days with his servants. When the Kabaka was leaving, he decided to plant this olive tree to respect the gods of the falls. Later another King Muteesa 2 visited the place and planted a tree as a mark of respect and to recognize the spiritual importance of Ssezibwa waterfalls and its river. King Royal Mwenda Mutebi the second also paid a visit to the falls in 2002 to commission it as one of Buganda’s important tourism site.
Kings aside, people from all over the country still come and visit the falls seeking blessings from small gods for their health, wealth, jobs, families and blessings. There are traditional healers at the falls who use local herbs to sure diseases, stomach upset, toothache and diseases. Sacrifices to get blessings from gods include coffee beans, eggs, local beer. Chicken, sheep and goats. These animals are slaughtered at the top of the falls and then thrown down the water pool to appease the gods and feed Ssezibwa. So you shouldn’t be surprised if you find the dead animals at the foot of the falls.
Ssezibwa falls is just 43 kms away from Kampala along Kampala Jinja high way. When you reach Mukono town you drive a few kilometers and you should drive slowly in order not to bypass a sign post showing the direction of the Ssezibwa river resort and when you see it you just branch off in a sugarcane plantation. It’s advised to use a good wheel drive car because the road is of marum to go through the rough patch most especially during the rainy season. When you reach the falls you pass through the main get and the first thing that catches your mind are the hissing sounds of the waterfalls and the beautiful scenery of the areas. The area around the falls is full of trees and rocks that are unspoiled. You move inside you will see a bride downstream where you will clearly spot the water falls. From the bridge you can take photos and record videos, you can as well go into the waters for swimming. Up the falls there are rocks and trees that create a good atmosphere for relaxation.
Ssezibwa falls is a good place for relaxation from your long trips on your wildlife safari in Uganda or on your way to the source of river Nile in Jinja for bungee jumping or white water rafting. The place offers a cool and serene environment. Activities at Ssezibwa falls include
The management of Ssezibwa falls discourages swimming in the beautiful pool especially near the falls for those who don’t know how to swim. There have been deaths at the falls but if you are good at swimming, you can go into the waters of Ssezibwa and swim because there will be no one to stop you. I mean who can stop you from swimming in the waters after completing difficult tasks such as whitewater rafting and bungee jumping all at river Nile.
If you are looking for a best place to take photos and record videos, then Ssezibwa falls is among the best places you can visit. Apart from the waterfalls, the beautiful green environment, trees and rock look good in a camera. You can also take photos in the green gardens across the bridge or you can also take photos of vervet monkeys and red tailed monkeys that live in the forest.
Hiking and climbing rocks:
This activity involves hiking to the top of the falls where you will have a clear view of river Ssezibwa flowing down the rocks as it escapes through the dense bushes and trees. The hike is not challenging at all because it takes you about 5 minutes to hike to the top of the falls and the reward after hiking is the great views of the water falls and the surrounding scenery. While hiking you will spot lizards, vervet monkeys and red retailed monkeys only if you are lucky.
Ssezibwa falls is surrounded by a forest which is a home to over 50 bird species. birders will find this place amazing, the place has birds such as Green Crombec, Green Hylia Woodland Kingfisher, osprey great blue turaco, Grey-backed Carmaroptera, Grey-headed Negrofinch, fan-tailed widowbird, African fin foot, Grey-headed Sparrow, Hadada Ibis, Little Greenbul, Lizard Buzzard, emarld cuckoo, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher, African grey hornbill, Red-chested Sunbird, dark-capped bulbul, Red-eyed Dove, Red-faced Crombec, Red-headed Malimbe, bronze mannkin, Ross’ Turaco, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Speckled Mouse bird, Striped Kingfisher, blue-spotted wood dove, Superb Sunbird, Tambourine Dove, Toro Olive Greenbul, Velvet Mantled Drongo, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, black-necked weaver, Western Nicator, White headed Sawwing, ashy fly catcher, White-browed Scrub Robin, African paradise fly catcher, White-spotted Flufftails, White-throated Bee-eater, Yellow Fronted Canary, Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Yellow-White-eye, Black and White Manikin.
This is among the best activities to do after viewing the beautiful falls. The forests surrounding Ssezibwa falls are the first to go and here you will find tree types such as Bamboo, Musizi, Muvule, ebony, fig, and eucalyptus trees. The area is also full of shrubs and bushes. With a help of a will trained local guide, you will be able to learn about plants, birds, small primates, snakes and butterflies. The nature walk can be very long taking you to even the nearby local farms and sugarcane plantations. International tourists who want to do nature walks at Ssezibwa will have to pay USD 4 and this amount pays the guide and the balance is for forest reservation and this amount pays the guide and the balance is for forest reservation.
Around Ssezibwa falls you will find 4 villages that is Kungu, Wamala, Ngongwe and Madudu. International visitors who visit the falls get to visit the local villagers and get to learn about the experienced life of an African home. There re different students from Uganda who choose this place as a place for field work and research and they pay 10,000 UGX per person.
Before the introduction of Christianity and Islam, the local people had their won traditional religions. Many shrines were built at Ssezibwa falls to allow people from all over the country to connect to their small god and ancestors as they seek blessings. There is Jajja Ssezibwa shrine which is popular and it’s found just next to the beautiful waterfalls. Those who are interested about knowing about the cultural practices of the Baganda people can go visit any of the shrines to learn more about the gods and spiritual beings. Inside the shrine you will find pots, bark cloths, beans, calabashes, spears and cowrie shells. On top of the falls you will see the smoke rising from the bottom of the falls as sacrifices are made to the gods and water. Women are allowed to enter inside the caves as well as men who have had sexual intercourse with ladies the previous night. For the case of Christians, born again or Muslims, you should think twice before visiting the falls.
Picnics and camping:
The green environment around the forest are best for picnics and camping. You can set up your won picnic site under a tall tree and enjoy the fresh air, see the beautiful waterfalls as you play games with your family or loved ones. Those who love camping will find the area after the bride perfect. Camping at Ssezibwa falls gives you a cool environment with the hissing sound of the falls, beautiful sounds of birds and primates.
Entrance is 10,000 UGX for Ugandan and USD 4 for foreign tourists.
Ssezibwa falls are open for tourism throughout the year
Unlike Sipi falls, Ssezibwa falls in not well managed. There is high potential in the place for tourism if the management becomes innovative. The area has no restaurant and the only place for accommodation there is of low quality. If the management improves things at the falls, the place will attract more visitors and more money will come in. visitors who wish to stay at Ssezibwa falls for a night or two will use Ssezibwa falls resort for accommodation.
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