Top 3 Places For Seeing Lions in Their Natural Habitat in Uganda.
If you ever want to witness African lions thriving in their natural environments, Uganda is an ideal destination. The country has three national parks where visitors can observe these magnificent creatures playing and living in their natural habitats.
African lions, also known as Panthera leo, usually reside in grasslands and savannas, making Uganda’s national parks the perfect setting. While these big cats are primarily active during the day, they can adjust their routine to become active at night or during twilight when they feel threatened.
Ugandan lions can be found in three main savannah parks in the country: Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP), Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), and Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP). These parks provide the perfect habitat for these big cats; visitors can observe them on game drives and nature walks.
We highly recommended to include any of these national parks on your tailor-made Uganda tours to ensure epic lion sightings. Tour guides on safari game drives know the lions’ movements. They will drive visitors to see these magnificent animals at an up-close yet safe distance.
In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at the three national parks where the lions of Uganda live and the best places to spot them. We’ll include the unique features of each park and the best ways to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitats. Let’s look at the best places to see lions in Uganda.
1. Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is a well-known safari destination in Uganda, particularly famous for its lions. It offers visitors the chance to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, with a large population of lions residing within the park. The park’s vast open savannas provide the ideal environment for these big cats, allowing visitors to witness them hunting, sleeping, and playing in the wild. Moreover, the Ishasha sector of the park is specifically renowned for its tree-climbing lions – an extraordinary and rare sight to behold.
Located in the western quadrant of Uganda, the landscapes of Queen Elizabeth National Park are simply stunning. The park boasts expansive savannah grasslands, plains, forested woods, gorges, crater lakes, and thick forests, with the Rwenzori Mountains as a stunning backdrop. With over 95 distinctive mammal species and more than 600 species of birds, this park is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise.
Among the park’s remarkable mammal species are lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos, with lions being one of the primary focuses of the QENP. The park primarily focuses on lion conservation, and more than 250 individual lions live here, mainly in the southern and northern sectors. Visitors can see lions on game drives in the Kasenyi Sector, Mweya Tracks, and Ishasha Sector, guided by knowledgeable tour guides who know the lions’ movements and ensure a safe distance for visitors.
Watching Ishasha Tree Climbing Lions
In addition to the typical lions found in the park, the QENP is globally renowned for its biggest population of tree-climbing big cats. These tree-climbing lions live in the park’s Ishasha quadrant, located in the southern sector. On an afternoon safari ride through Ishasha, visitors can see the lions contentedly lazing in the enormous fig trees. This rare and fascinating sight makes Queen Elizabeth National Park a unique destination for observing lions in their natural habitats.
2. Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park, located in Uganda, is a remote and lesser-known park that boasts a significant population of wild lions. The park’s vast savannas and rugged mountains provide an ideal environment for these majestic creatures, and visitors can observe them during game drives and nature walks. Additionally, the park is home to diverse wildlife, including elephants, zebras, and giraffes. If you must see lions in Uganda on safari, you should head north to Kidepo Valley National Park.
Remarkably, Kidepo Valley National Park is currently home to 132 lions, and the population of these big cats is steadily increasing. This makes the park a unique destination for lion sightings compared to Uganda’s other two primary lion habitats. With time, this park will become an increasingly crucial habitat for observing these incredible creatures in the wild.
3. Murchison Falls National Park
The third best place to see lions in Uganda is Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest. This park is home to a thriving population of lions, which can be observed on game drives and boat safaris along the Nile River. Murchison Falls National Park boasts diverse habitats, including savannas, woodlands, and riverine forests, providing the perfect environment for these majestic creatures.
The lions of Murchison Falls are diurnal, which means they are active during two primary times of the day: sunrise and sunset. These times are ideal for safari drives if you hope to see these big cats roaming the open plains. You’ll find these lions primarily within the savannah grasslands, where they reign as the true kings of the habitat. They prey on less powerful game, such as buffaloes, kobs, and antelopes.
Lion Tracking and Research in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
The best activity for tourists to see lions in Uganda is on a Lion Tracking Adventure in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lion tracking is among the most fascinating experiences for travelers on safari in Uganda. Finding and photographing the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha is breathtaking, but lion tracking provides a far more thrilling adventure. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the only lion habitat in Uganda where tourists can participate in the active and exciting lion tracking activity.
To embark on this thrilling activity, tourists must head to the Kasenyi Plains in the park’s northern sector. Lion tracking is a popular activity in Uganda. It provides visitors a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the majestic lions in their natural habitat. Experienced and expert researchers from the Uganda Carnivore Program lead the activity, offering insights into the lions’ feeding habits, behaviors, and natural habitats.
Visitors can participate in lion tracking by paying a fee, which goes to support wildlife conservation in Uganda. The cost is USD 50 for a foreign tourist permit and UGX 100,000 for an East African National permit.
Aside from the magnificent lions, Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to several other wildlife species, birds, and primates. The park is located within Uganda’s Kasese District. It features various ecosystems, such as vast savannahs, shadowy forests, fertile wetlands, and lakes. Visitors can observe other animals, including leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos, making it a one-of-a-kind destination for wildlife enthusiasts.