Find the things to do in Kapchorwa a district in eastern Uganda popular for Sipi falls at the northern slopes of Mount Elgon National Park. The town and waterfalls are not far from Kapchwai the park’s visitor center making it easier to combine both places on your trip to eastern Uganda. Situated at 1800m – 2550 m above sea level, the view of Karamoja plains is most spectacular from Teyret.
Kapchorwa means “Home of Friends” in the Kupsabiny language of the Sebei or Sabinyi. They are part of the southern Nilote tribes (highlands Nilotes) and also live in the neighboring districts of Kween and Sironko. There are 370000 of them who still grow maize, beans, Irish potatoes, plantains and keep a few cattle and chickens on subsistence level. The main Kapchorwa town has hydro-electricity power and fresh food markets. There’s also a night club though too remote from the usual occurrences in Kampala capital city. Kapchorwa creates a feeling of peace and tranquility.
Kapchorwa officially Uganda’s Land of Champions
On any person who desires to be in a quiet countryside, Kapchorwa offers a gift of seclusion and a chance to take part in community culture. Over the past couple of years, it has received national attention for athletes like Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Peruth Chemutai, Stella Chesang who have all won gold medals at international running marathons. It is this kind of glory that Kapchorwa was nicknamed “Uganda’s Land of Champions.” Because “there are so many champions on a few square meters” said Daan Oxener owner of Home of Friends Guesthouse. This medium range property and camp site was established in 2017. Under the influence of champions, Kapchorwa now is becoming a hot spot for sports and adventure tourism in East Africa.
In addition to visiting Sipi falls to hike around or abseil down the 100-meter-long drop, the Uganda adventure tourism and its partners including the Netherlands Enterprise, Run Kapchorwa, Bike Kapchorwa and Elgon Tourism Development Network have opened up several new activities and trails. Now visitors can take part in guided runs, biking, hiking, visiting the caves and many more..
When I stayed at the guesthouse with friends in May 2022, I noticed that the home next to me was Peruth Chemutai’s. She won gold in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time on 9:01.45 at the Olympic Games Tokyo, Japan in 2020. The little distance is the connection that Kapchorwa provides for its visitors. On a morning guided run along the champions trail, I saw Joshua’s home too. I was involved in a direct encounter with Peruth later in the evening. I felt a deeper connection to the land like a champion. It was a wonderful show!
Benefits of hiking in Kapchorwa
Are you or your friends fancying a relaxing and off-the-beaten track adventure? With passion and confidence, we can say that Kapchorwa is a true hiker’s paradise!
- Its one of the emerging destinations thus still fresh with green environment, spectacular waterfalls and cliffs.
- Conducive climate and temperatures
- The friendly nature of the Sebei people
- Challenging and less challenging trails
- The ample space and low numbers of fellow tourists
- Experienced and qualified local guides
When to visit Kapchorwa
I went there at the end of the rainy season in May 2022, but in my eyes visiting Kapchorwa has no season. During our stay, it rained in the evening of the first day. The trails become muddy the following morning. I couldn’t help it and took on the 10 sq.km champions trails. By the end of the run, the mud had dried which provided good conditions for afternoon biking on dirt trails.
Things to do in Kapchorwa (offered at the Home of Friends Guesthouse)
Kapchorwa is now one of the best destinations to run at high altitude. The hills on the slopes of Mount Elgon provide runners with alternating upward and downward sloping. This is when you can take on the dirt trails of varying distances starting and ending at the guesthouse. Our guided run was flexible everyone had a chance to run at their pace. My passion and curiosity pushed me to compete with my two friends Alex and Kelly finishing ahead of others. There are professional athletes from Run Kapchorwa among other athlete development groups such as Kapenguria or the champions themselves will guide and challenge you in their homeland. Furthermore, there’s the national high altitude training center if you prefer to run on canvas and create your own running path. The center at the top of the hill in Teyret 2600 meters above sea level provides spectacular view of volcanic escarpments in Mount Elgon National Park.
Unlike running which provides option to run on canvas trails at the high altitude center, biking in Kapchorwa is largely done off-road. However, at some points you have to cross and ride on tarmac depending on route selected. The Bike Kapchorwa team will help you to decide according to your abilities. There are special mountain bikes with 10 and the regular of 7 gears to choose from. I was given a 10 for the first time to ride on unfamiliar terrain. our guide Francis of Red Dirt Uganda a specialist cycling operator allowed us to conduct tests which I failed. Everyone in the group was worried about my performance. Surprisingly, I insisted and went for the 13 sq.km trail only to overcome hills that most people failed. “I think you have found your calling” said Daan the Business development manager at Home of Friends Guesthouse after noticing my steadiness on the bike. Curiosity killed a cat they say and it occurred to me when I failed to switch gears on a hill and rolled over the slope. It was such an amazing bike experience in Kapchorwa that after finishing I was completely exhausted. I mean, I was just exhausted, totally exhausted. I couldn’t even walk around after a delicious lunch without panting and wheezing. Nevertheless, I picked myself up and went for the nature walk to explore the caves which took 2 more hours of hiking. I couldn’t care less given that the next day we were returning to Kampala. So, I couldn’t afford to miss an activity.
Kapchorwa biking Tip: You don’t have to go physical doing several activities like I did. If you do, make sure to move at your own pace.
Nights around a campfire
For obvious reasons – cold nights, long and exhausting biking, I participated in the campfire as we gathered together and shared stories. This is a must have if you want learn about the Sebei people and their traditional history of running. It had rained and the campfire lasted longer. I was told by Shadrack that the ancestors of the Sebei served in the military of the ancient Egyptian Black Pharaohs such as Khafre who ordered his artists to carve The Great Sphinx in the solid rock for all time.
Honey wine beer tasting in Teyret
I have tasted banana gin and beer several times in their purest forms, but the honey wine was exceptional. The process of mixing water, honey and several local herbs to get wine in itself is magical. This tradition is a sign of food cultural continuity by the village elders in the Sebei community.
The challenges, sights and smells and sounds along the way