Tree Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park are one of the most attractive features that the park possesses as they attract many travelers from across the world. Queen Elizabeth national park is located in the western part of Uganda in Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi and Rukingiri districts. Queen Elizabeth national park is famously known due to the tree climbing lions which are found in the southern part of the Queen Elizabeth national park called the Ishasha sector.  Tree climbing lions are rare animal species and in African they are only found in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park and Lake Manyara in the southern part of Tanzania.

Tree Climbing Lions

Queen Elizabeth national park is the second largest national park in Uganda located in the western region. The park is a home of various wildlife species such as the unique climbing lions, big 4 mammals including the elephants, buffaloes, leopards and the normal lions which are viewed in Kasenyi plains and other animals like bushbucks, waterbucks, Uganda kobs, mongoose, different bird species among others. Queen Elizabeth national park offers a wide range of Safari activities which visitors on a safari in Uganda can engage in including Day game and Night game drive, Boat cruise on Kazinga Channel, Bird watching, Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura gorge, Nature walks in Maramagambo forest, Crater lakes visit, Lion research tracking experience in Kasenyi plains, Mongoose tracking in Mweya peninsula among others. 

Tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth national park Ishasha sector are unique in such a way that apart from climbing the acacia and sycamore fig trees, the males also have black mane.

How to get to Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth national park

Ishasha sector is located in south western part of Uganda in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Ishasha can be reached by both road and air transport means

Road transport: When getting to the Ishasha sector you will drive from Kampala City via Masaka, Mbarara, fort portal, Kasese and then queen Elizabeth national park where you will connect to the southern part in Ishasha for climbing lions. The journey takes about 7 hours’ drive. Ishasha sector can also be reached from Bwindi impenetrable forest which takes about 3 to 4 hours’ drive.

Air transport: When going to the Ishasha sector you will book scheduled and chartered flights from either Entebbe Airport or Kajansi Airfield to Kihihi airstrip where you will meet the tour company vehicle or you can hire a private vehicle to connect to Ishasha sector in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park.

You can also contact a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris to book for you a domestic flight such as Aero link aircraft which operates scheduled  flights from Entebbe airport to Kasese or Mweya airstrip and then drive to the southern part of Queen Elizabeth national park to view the tree climbing lions which takes about 2 hours’ drive.  

Why do the lions climb trees? 

Tree climbing lions in Ishasha are usually seen during a game drive in the Ishasha sector where you will have an opportunity to view them lazily lying and relaxing on the huge fig tree branches as they stare down on the antelopes. People believe that the Tree climbing lions in ishasha sector climb trees due to various reasons which include

  • To escape from the heat on the ground hence enjoying the cool breeze especially during the dry season when the park receives fewer rainfalls and a lot of sunshine
  • The tree-climbing lions prefer the acacia and sycamore-fig trees because they give them shelter
  • It’s also believed to be an ingrained cultural preference of these tree climbing lions to climb the trees
  • To avoid insects bites on the ground such as the tsetse flies which will disturb these tree climbing lions in case they are down
  • To have a clear view of the prey to hunt because when they climb the fig tree they get a clear view of the antelopes which will be grazing down in the open Ishasha plains.
Tree Climbing Lions
Tree Climbing Lions

When to visit the climbing lions

The climbing lions in the Ishasha sector can be visited all year round and the best time to visit is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, December, January, and February. During this season the park receives less rain fall and it is usually hot during the day and since it’s believed that the tree-climbing lions in Ishasha climb trees due to heat from the ground you will be able to view them lying upon the fig tree branches.

During the dry season it’s easier to spot the climbing lions in Ishasha because the grass will be short compared to the wet season when the grass is a lot. Tree climbing lions can best be viewed during the game drive in Ishasha sector at around 11:00am to 5:00pm because this is the time when they are not hunting but rather relaxing and sleeping up in the fig tree branches.

During the wet season, the climbing lions do not climb the fig trees because of heavy rains which make climbing slippery therefore they fear to climb the fig trees and it becomes difficult for a visitor to have a clear view of these lions  

Tree climbing lions in the Ishasha sector are the second most visited attractions in Uganda apart from gorilla trekking in Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park. Every visitor on a Uganda Safaris tour should not miss out on the tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector Queen Elizabeth national park in that they can combine gorilla trekking activity in Bwindi forest national park with the tree-climbing lions in Ishasha sector to make their Uganda safari breath taking, fascinating and unforgettable.

book a safari