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Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park – Tree Climbing Lions

Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most wildlife-rich and captivating game-viewing areas during a Uganda safari.

It is famed for its uncommon Tree-Climbing Lions, which can regularly be lazily relaxing in branches of shady fig trees. These big cats are the high spot of Queen Elizabeth National Park safari to Uganda.

Ishasha is one of the only two places in the world where you can see Tree-Climbing Lions. The other one is Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania where it is harder to track them because they are few.

In 1912, Ishasha in the Southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park was declared a restricted area. It is now a well-developed destination as you safari Uganda.

Ishasha is also a convenient region to pass through on your way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; the home of the peculiar wildlife of Uganda; Mountain Gorillas.

The sector is bisected by the 150-kilometer road that links Katunguru to Buhoma. As a result, tourists often visit it as a day trip or overnight destination for wildlife safaris as they travel between Queen Elizabeth Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.


This sector also has a unique Uganda landscape from other sectors in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Its vegetation comprises savannah woodland tree species like Cactus Trees, Fig Trees, Acacia Trees, and many others. Its grasslands are spotted with candelabra shrubs on which Tree-Climbing lions rest.

This favors the numerous Uganda animals in this region besides the renowned Tree-Climbing Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Antelopes, Monkeys, and herds of Buffaloes and Elephants are examples. Also, this region is home to birding in Uganda as it carries an expectant flock of different bird species that live in the savannahs and rivers.

Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park has a liberated wild atmosphere that you can fully experience as you spend a night in this sector. Your Uganda wildlife safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park comes to life in this region. This is especially if you enjoy the quiet and pure ambiance of a wild Africa!

Location Of Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Ishasha is in Western Uganda, Kasese District in the South Western part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is on the furthest South Western edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park, just a short driving distance from the Southern gate. It lies along geographic coordinates 0.5858° S, 29.7176° E.

It is bordered by Lake Edward to the North, the Ishasha River and the Democratic Republic of Congo border to the West, and River Ntungwe to the East.

On the immediate South of the Ishasha sector is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is where refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo stay.

Attractions (Things To See) In Ishasha Sector

The Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park abounds with many captivating things to see on your Uganda tour including

  • Tree-Climbing Lions
  • Other Uganda Wildlife Animals
  • Birds

Tree Climbing Lions In Ishasha Queen Elizabeth National Park

As you plan to safari Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, the Tree-Climbing Lions of the Ishasha sector should be on your must-see list.

Tree-Climbing Lions are not like any other usual Uganda animals you will see on an African safari. Ishasha plain is one of the best places to witness this spectacle. In Tanzania, they exist in Lake Manyara National Park, but seeing them is difficult since they are few.

The real question here is, Why do these animals of Uganda climb trees? Many sources say that they love the cool weather up in the branches. Whereas others think that they keep away from tsetse fly bites which are less in the trees than on the ground.

However, is there any reason why so many Lion prides do it while others don’t? Well, that’s yet to be investigated. But to my understanding, Lions are in the cat family and several members in this family can climb trees. However, some are too heavy to climb the trees in their territories.

All in all;

Spotting these lions is like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should not miss while on your safari in Uganda.

As they rest on the trees in the heat of the day, the Tree-Climbing lions also keep a close eye on the savannahs. They aim to spot Uganda Kobs(Uganda national animal) and Buffaloes grazing in the open Ishasha plains to prey on.

These cats are currently vulnerable according to the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In fact, in 2006, Queen Elizabeth National Park was declared a Lion Conservation Unit to protect the cats.

The Wildlife Conservation Society placed collars on the necks of these lions to help in their conservation. They do this by tracking their feeding ranges, removing traps and snares, and educating the community on how to live peacefully with the animals found in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Uganda Wild Animals In The Ishasha Sector

Apart from the distinctive Tree-Climbing Lions, Ishasha grasslands have many Queen Elizabeth National Park animals for your wildlife safaris in Uganda. The acacia woodlands and savannah also harbor huge herds of Buffaloes, Topis, and Uganda Kobs. Elephants are seasonally common. There are also small family groups of Waterbucks, Warthogs, and various Monkeys. The presence of many Kobs and Antelopes in the region also attracts the Lions and Leopards.

The Ishasha River supports a healthy Hippo population which you can observe from the nearby campsite. The forests that fringe the banks of Ishasha River host a good number of Bushbucks, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, or Mantled Guereza.

Ishasha animals in Uganda include

  • Lions
  • Buffaloes
  • Uganda Kobs
  • Elephants
  • Topis
  • Uganda Kobs
  • Leopards
  • Waterbucks
  • Warthogs
  • Monkeys
  • Hippos
  • Bushbucks
  • Hyenas

Birds In Ishasha Sector Queen Elizabeth Park

Visit the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and you will love birding in Uganda. Ishasha plains are one of the best bird-watching sights in Queen Elizabeth national park. The forests along Ishasha River harbor an interesting variety of birds including the localized Cassin’s Grey Flycatchers, Black Bee-Eaters, and Broad-Bellied Rollers.

The papyrus fringed site around Lake Edward is good for waterbirds including several Herons, Shoebills, And Plovers. The Ntungwe River flood plains host Black Coucal, Compact Weavers, Fan-Tailed Widow birds, and several waterbirds.

The area generally rewards birders in Africa with various bird species, some of these include

  • Shoebill
  • Palm-nut Vulture
  • Hooded Vulture
  • African White-backed Vulture
  • Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture
  • Lappet-faced Vulture
  • Brown Snake Eagle
  • Wahlberg’s Eagle
  • Long-created Eagle
  • Martial Eagle
  • African Crowned Eagle
  • African Wattled Plover
  • Senegal Plovera
  • Bateleur
  • Grey Kestrel
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • African Crake
  • Black-bellied Bustard
  • African Green Pigeon
  • Ross’s Turaco
  • Striped Kingfisher
  • Broad-billed Roller
  • Double-toothed Barbet
  • White-headed Barbet
  • Greater Honeyguide
  • Grey Woodpecker
  • White-browed Robin-Chat
  • Brown-backed Scrub-Robin
  • Green Crombec
  • Cisticolas
  • Grey-backed Fiscal
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker

Activities (Things To Do) In Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth Park

Major safari activities in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park include;

  • Game Drives
  • Birding
  • Cultural Visits

Game Drives In The Ishasha Sector

This is the main Queen Elizabeth safari activity in the Ishasha sector. The safari game drives in the Ishasha sector give a marvelous browse of the scenery of Uganda safari animals, birds, and vegetation.

Since Ishasha is not a busy part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can therefore spend long hours with the animals from Uganda, especially the Queen Elizabeth National Park Tree Climbing Lions. However, the tracks are not as well maintained as those of the busier sections in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Therefore, you will need the best 4×4 vehicle for your safari game drive.

There are both day and night game drives in the Ishasha sector. However, the most rewarding game drive is the day game drive in which you can enjoy the beautiful spectacle of the rising sun falling on the plains. More so, in the morning, it is easy to see the Uganda wildlife as they begin the day.

Areas to do game drive safaris in the Ishasha Sector include

  • Southern Circuit
  • Northern Circuit
  • Edward Flats
  • Ishasha River Campsite

The Southern Circuit

This circuit offers the best viewing point for the Tree-Climbing Lions. This is because of the well-spread candelabra shrubs and figs on which the lions rest.

The trees give the best vantage point for the Queen Elizabeth National Park Lions to track their prey.

The Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit joins the Ntungwe middle circuit as a semicircle. Its rich pasture on the dropping slopes toward Edward flats attracts large herds of Buffaloes. The Buffaloes in turn attract parasitic birds like Cattle Egrets, Yellow Billed Oxpeckers, and Wattled Starlings. Hence another circuit in Ishasha to experience the wildlife in Uganda Africa.

Edward Flats

This is the remotest game track that is off the circuit area. You need a ranger from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to guide you in exploring this area. This area is also a good place for watching nice scenery like the herds of breeding Elephants.

Edward Flats is also a migration corridor for birds that come to Queen Elizabeth National Park including raptors, storks, and other waders.

Ishasha River Campsite

The Ishasha River Campsite is toward the information center and is alive with large Hippo pods. The area is surrounded by the Congo Tropical Forests and Maramagabo Forest running toward the shores of Lake Edward while its woody zones have grasslands. In this region, you can view the rare Guinean and Congo forest patches.

Animals in Uganda Africa to see in this region include

  • Hippos
  • Serval Cats
  • Aardvarks
  • Red River Hogs

Birding In Ishasha Queen Elizebeth National Park

The Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the best-defined birding areas. It flocks with many savannah scavenging and preying birds like vultures and Eagles. They feed on small mammals or the ones killed by other prey like lions. The environment in the Ishasha sector is highly responsible for the high collection of birds from morning to evening.

Cultural/ Community Visits

Culture is one of the selling Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda safari activities. In this park, you will meet the Bakiga as you visit their homes and learn how they live their daily life. They will teach you how to cook their food and you can participate in helping them to harvest greens. You can even try out their local brew.

Ishasha Jungle Lodge in particular offers village walks where you will meet the Kameme Traditional Group. The lodge supports this group of over 15 children who perform cultural dances and songs of the Bakiga and Rwandese.

Best Time And Period To Visit The Ishasha Sector

You can best visit the Ishasha sector in the dry season of mid-December to February and June to September.

Even though mid-December to February is generally dry, you can expect rain sometimes.

You can also expect some little rain in the dry seasons of June to September. However, normally daytime temperatures in this season are 29°C/84°F.

Nevertheless in the dry season generally, rainfall is less expected and grasses in the sector are short. But you can visit the vicinity any time of the year.

How To Get to Ishasha Queen Elizabeth National Park

You can reach the Ishasha sector by either air or by road.

By Air

From Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield, flights are organized every day to different Airstrips in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The flights are always about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Kihihi Airstrip is the closest airstrip to Ishasha Queen Elizabeth National Park.

By Road, it takes a drive of about 7 to 8 hours on a distance of about 450km from Kampala to Kasese.

Your Ultimate Necessities While Visiting Ishasha-h2

This is an expert guide on some things that you need to have the best safari in Uganda’s Ishasha

What you need,

  • A camera for wildlife photography.
  • A pair of binoculars will help you view clearly.
  • Your notebook and pen will help you record your findings and experiences.

How you should dress is not a rule, but it will help you a lot in terms of being comfortable during your adventure. A long-sleeved shirt will help protect you from insect bites. However, an insect repellant is also necessary to have better protection.

You can have a hat and sunglasses to cover and protect you from the sun’s rays. A sunscreen lotion will protect your skin better.

7 Important Safety Precautions While In Ishasha Queen Elizabeth National Park

The precautions below apply when you are for the activities in your Uganda wildlife tour in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

  1. Kindly follow the instructions of your guide or ranger.
  2. Once you meet the animals, do not touch them or throw items at them to get their attention. They can attack you!
  3. Allow the rangers to be the only ones to call the animals. Once around, keep a distance of about 8 to 10 meters away from the animals.
  4. On a Queen Elizabeth National Park game drive in Ishasha, drive on the tracks, at the recommended speed of 40km/hr. Additionally, stay inside the vehicle.
  5. Always observe silence because noise stresses the animals.
  6. Do not drink anything that is alcoholic while going for an activity in Ishasha.
  7. Keep your windows closed on a game drive to be safe from Queen Elizabeth National Park animals.

Lodges/Hotels In Ishasha In Queen Elizabeth Park


Ishasha Wilderness Camp; is on the Southern part of the Ishasha sector on River Ntungwe, and it gives a Uganda luxury safari experience. The lodge is in the bush, but their services are superb. They have an open lounge that gives you beautiful views of the forests. They also have an open safari vehicle that you can use on game drives.


Ishasha Jungle Lodge; this lodge is just 2km away from River Ntugwe. It is a beautiful place for safari photographs and a good stop over to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The lodge offers game drives and village walks where you can meet the Kameme Traditional Group.

Enjonjo Game Lodge; borders the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth Park. The name “Enjojo” means “Elephant” in the local Rukiga language. The park was called so because, during its construction, a baby Elephant(calf) was born on its premises.


Topi Lodge; is just a 5-minute journey from the Southern Gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park to Ishasha. The lodge offers a true definition of living in the wild among a perennial African landscape.

An ageless Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park is more than the peculiar Tree-Climbing Lions. Live in Ishasha’s relaxing setting of wild Uganda for an unending vision of memories about your wildlife tours in Uganda. Book your wildlife safaris in Uganda with the best Uganda safari company today!

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