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The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha – Queen Elizabeth Park

Posted by on April 8, 2021

Ishasha is the Best Place in East Africa to see Tree-Climbing Lions.

A sight not to be missed on Safari in Uganda – The Tree-Climbing Lions on the Ishasha Plains


Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha

The rare Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha 

“The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha” in Queen Elizabeth Park should be on your Must See and Do List for Uganda. Seeing lions sleeping away the day in trees is not an everyday safari occurrence. 

Seasoned African travelers will know that Tree-Climbing Lions are not something you will encounter on an African Safari. They are a rarity in Africa since they are terrestrial creatures not seen hanging out during the day in fig or acacia trees. 

Ishasha is that rare place in Africa where these majestic predators have the unusual habit of regularly sleeping primarily in fig trees.

Besides Ishasha, the other well-known places being Lake Manyara National Park and parts of the Serengeti, both in Tanzania. Ishasha is, however, considered the most reliable for tree-climbing lions’ sightings. 

In recent years more tourists have realized that they can easily be seen here and have taken advantage of the opportunity offered.


Why do the Lions in Ishasha Climb Trees?

No one has come up with the exact answer. Some think it is culturally ingrained in the Lions. That it is learned behavior the lions acquire rather than their instincts. Nevertheless, for an adult lion to get up into a fig tree is quite a feat.

Others, which include animal behaviorists, speculate the lions want to escape pestering insects. That they want to avoid the heat on the ground and catch a fresh and cooling breeze as they rest and sleep the day away after a night’s hunt.

One added benefit is this. Being up in the trees allows them to observe the surrounding. See anyone approaching and spot potential prey. 

Why do Lions Climb Trees in Ishasha? No one knows for sure is the answer. What is for sure is that Ishasha is the best place in Africa where to see them.


The Best Way to see the Tree-Climbing Lions

Here in Ishasha, you take a game drive to see the tree-climbing lions. The lions return from the night’s hunt and climb into the trees after the sun has risen, and the best time to see them is between 10 am and 3 pm. 

You might not know that lions are sleepyheads and can rest in the trees for up to fifteen hours. A lot longer than the seven to nine hours that we sleep during the night.

Suppose you are with us on a Safari. In that case, you will have the expertise of your driver-guide and a seasoned Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger. The vehicle comes equipped with a pop-up roof allowing you to stand to get the best photos.

Besides Lions, you will often see herds of buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, including Topi and Uganda Kob. You might also see a leopard in a tree with his prey at his side up. Leopards do that to prevent hyenas and vultures from taking their prey.

Ishasha is part of an extended wildlife corridor that extends from Virunga National Park in DR Congo to Kibale Forest in Uganda.

It is best to see the Tree-Climb on a midday Game Drive


Where to stay in Ishasha?

The best choice is the only lodge within the park in Ishasha is the luxury Ishasha Wilderness Camp. It gives you the best authentic Wilderness Experience of any lodge in the area.

The lodge is located along the Ntungwe River, where Wildlife such as Elephants come to bathe and water while you are having lunch.’

The lodge offers Sundowners in the Bush and a Bush Breakfast. Both of which are a must-do on an African Safari in Uganda.

Quality Midrange Lodges such as Ishasha Jungle Lodge are located just outside of the park.


How to include “The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha” in your Safari:

There are many options. The most popular is to combine Gorilla Trekking, preferably in the closebyBuhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, with the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. The Kihihi Airstrip serves both the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth Park. There are Daily morning and afternoon Flights from Entebbe.

The Fly-In option is one of the best since it eliminates long drive-times. You land and take off from Kihihi, which is near to Ishasha and Bwindi Forest.

If you are on a longer safari that includes Bwindi Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park, ask us to add a day or two in the Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth Park.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most visited Parks in Uganda. We suggest including both Ishasha and the northern Mweya area in a Safari. You will be glad that you did.

The Tree Climbing Lions of Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth Park is not be missed. They are a rare sight throughout all of Africa. Many experts say that the Ishasha Region is a sure sighting place for those on Safari. Word is getting out about Ishasha’s Tree Climbing Lions, and more Visitors are coming. However, it is still a secluded spot in the southern area of Queen Elizabeth Park.


Help Prevent Lion Poaching

Help Prevent another Lion Massacre: In March of 2021, six lions were cruelly poisoned. The culprits were found and arrested, including the alleged mastermind. Parts of the poisoned lions were found at the residence of one of those arrested.

Tourism reduces poaching since there is a presence of vehicles and accompanying Uganda Wildlife Rangers out on game drives. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, poaching increased in parks across Africa, including in Uganda. 

Lions and other Wildlife are safer when tourists visit the park. By taking a game drive to see the tree-climbing lions, you take a pro-active stance that combats poaching, and everyone is grateful. 

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