Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha

Tree climbing lions can be found in 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.

 Apart from Queen Elizabeth national park tree climbing lions are commonly seen in Lake Manyara National Park in Northern Tanzania in neighboring Tanzania. Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha are usually seen sleeping on fig tree 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.


Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

Lions climb trees for various reasons ranging from wanting to flee from the irritating biting insects on ground to having a clear view of their surroundings . Below are the reasons why lions in Ishasha have mastered the art of climbing  trees.

The climbing lions of Ishasha love the candelabrum trees in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Acacia trees, sycamore fig trees, and fig trees are among these trees. During the rainy season, these types of trees are an ideal refuge for lions because they are wide enough to provide a quiet and comfortable place to rest and a safe place for lions to relax during rain or even sunny days.

With its candlestick thorns, humid rain forests, and Savannah vegetation, Queen Elizabeth national park is home to a variety of wildlife species, including Ugandan kobs, antelopes, warthogs, and many other species that roam freely throughout the park, including the chimpanzees at Kyambura George and other primates found throughout the park.

There is no doubt that encountering these magnificent lions of Queen Elizabeth is one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life, especially if you take enough pictures back home as they lie lazily in the tree branches or when catching their prey so that you will never forget it.

Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

1. Fleeing the irritating insects on the ground

If you have been on an African safari, you have probably been bitten by some of these safari bugs.  African savannas can be 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.

2. 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 lions in Ishasha in the trees during a hot day

3. 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 the Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

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 from 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 in 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 Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha.

Where to Stay in ISHASHA?


Enjojo Lodge

Enjojo Lodge is located at the southern border of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Ishasha. There is a variety of bird life found on the land here, and a guided nature walk can be taken around the lodge. The cottages provide a comfortable base as you explore the area.
They have interlinked three thatched cottages, a safari house that offers privacy to guests and can house up to 16 guests.

  • Whether you’re on the riverbanks watching the animals pass by and the hippos leave the water or perched on the ridge, you can enjoy your Sundowner drink as the sun sets in a scenic location.

  • For a proper ‘out of Africa’ breakfast, your own personal chef can come out on your morning safari and cook you up a storm.

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Located on the banks of the Ntungwe River, Ishasha Wilderness Camp is an ideal getaway for people who enjoy the African bush’s unspoiled beauty. Ishasha wilderness exclusive camp is located in this unspoilt, remote sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park and offers a high level of quality accommodation in well-appointed luxury tents with excellent service. 

There are often many Black-and-White Colobus and Vervet monkeys above the camp because the camp is situated within the park. Watch elephants bathing in the river and resident Black-and-White Colobus monkeys.

ishasha wilderness camp

Topi Lodge

Enjoy the beautiful views surrounding this rustic lodge from the comfort of one of their budget-friendly private cottages before you retire for the night to one of their large, comfortable beds.

It is possible to make your room at Topi Lodge into a twin, double or single room as well as an option to make your room into a triple bed room.

Featuring a mosquito net on every bed, and spacious bathrooms with a warm shower to unwind after an active day, all rooms are self-contained. 

Traditional Style  – The cottages are built and cosy with a Ugandan rural touch. Built with thatched roofs, designed and decorated with grass.

 The restaurant at Topi Lodge offers delicious food served on a spacious porch with an amazing view of the tree-climbing lions at Ishaha. 

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