Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha

Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

Tree climbing lions can be found the southern part of the ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park. The habit of lions climbing trees is not often.

Most people say that Queen Elizabeth is the only park in Uganda where lions have a habit of climbing trees. However, I totally disagree with since I have personally seen lions in Murchison Falls National Park in 2019. Apart from Queen Elizabeth national park tree climbing lions are commonly seen in Lake Manyara National Park in Northern Tanzania in the neighboring Tanzania.

Tree climbing lions are usually seen sleeping on fig trees branches by tourists. Researchers who have spent years observing the behaviors of these lions have tried to explain why lions here climb trees and have come out with these explanations.


Fleeing the irritating insects on the ground. African savannahs are full of different insects and flies that tend to disturb not only lions but also other animals. These insects include Tsetse flies and many more. You will often see buffalos covered in mud or impalas using their tails to get rid of the flies during your safari. For these lions of Ishasha, they have been forced to climb up the African fig trees as a way of escaping the flies on the ground in the world without sun screen.

Tree climbing lions photo By Alex Brackowski

Lions climb trees to have fresh breeze.

During  the hot season, African savannah temperatures can get high to over 30 degrees Celsius. This heat makes the ground unbearably hot for the cats. That’s why you will often find the tree climbing in the trees during a hot day

They love to have a clear view of their surrounding. Sometimes the grass is tall and lions tend to like to climb up so as to be able to their sorrounding for their own safety but also to see their prey clearly


Tree climbing lions normally go for the wide branches of candelabrum trees found in Ishasha queen Elizabeth national park. Examples of these trees are; sycamore fig trees, and acacia trees. Therefore these tree species are favourite for lions because they have wide enough branches providing a comfortable cushion wide place for resting, and are a favorable shelter for the lions during the hot sun.

This is the most reliable park in Uganda for lion, which is particularly common on the grassy Kasenyi Plains but is more famous for its tree-climbing antics in the Ishasha sector. Huge herds of buffalo and elephant are found in the savannah areas of the park and an amazing number of hippo inhabit the Kazinga channel on which daily boat trips are conducted

Meeting the special unique lions of Queen Elizabeth’s Ishasha is a one in a life time experience you won’t forget more so if you take enough photos back home as they snooze in the tree branches. The sycamore fig tree is an advantage to the tree climbing lions as they provide enough shelter to the lions from the heat as well as during rainy seasons.

When Is The Best time to Spot The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha?


Like most safari destinations in Africa, Queen Elizabeth National Park has two wet rainy seasons and two dry seasons. When helping you organize your safari travel in Uganda, our dedicated safari consultant at Laba Africa Expeditions will remind you that climate change has resulted in unpredictable weather patterns all over African continent. With that being said, we encourage you to come between June to August and December to February to be able to have a chance of good wether with less or no rains something that will give you more chances to spot the tree climbing lions of ishasha

 Chances are that you may encounter conditions unusual for the season. In any case, throughout the entire year you can expect consistently warm daytime temperatures ranging from 28 C (82 F) to 30 C (86 F), while nighttime temperatures may hover between 16 C (60 F) and 17 C (62 F).

How do i get to ishasha sector for the tree climbing lions ?

How to get to Queen Elizabeth National Park – Queen Elizabeth national park is situated 399 km west of Kampala or 420 from the Entebbe airport which is the country’s main entry point. It is the mostly accessed by private or public transport. It is possible to hire a car and self drive to the park

From Kampala, you can reach Queen Elizabeth NP VIA two main routes two routes, Kampala-Mubende-Fort portal road or Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara road.  From Rwanda it can be accessed through Ntungamo-Kasese road and from Dr Congo side , it can be accessed through Fort portal-Mpondwe road. There is a road from Ishasha also going to Congo but we don’t advise this route for safety concerns.

There are also flights kajjansi airfield and Entebbe airport that connect Kasese that nearby town to Queen Elizabeth National Park Kasenyi side. Here you can drive 75 Kms to Ishasha sector and the second option is to fly with local light air craft to Hihihi town and take a private car to Ishasha sector.

Bar Aviation and Aero link have daily scheduled flights to Kihihi airstrip from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield but keep I mind that local flights in Uganda can be very expensive as a round trip can cost you something like 420$. Road transport or renting a car and camping gear on the other hand can be the most amazing and affordable way to travel to Ishasha sector for the tree climbing lions

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