The mystical setting of a tree house you may have sought refuge in as a kid is now a trend-setting place you can escape to for a vacation.
The wide variety of tree houses in Southern Africa offers travelers a real choice: from adventure in rustic surrounds, to romance among branches illuminated by candlelight, or indulgence of five-star luxury on a treetop. Whatever your preference, these tree houses give you a unique way of seeing Africa: a new angle, with stunning views.
Here are 10 extraordinary tree house accommodations:
1. Chole Mjini Lodge: Tanzania
Chole Mjini Lodge’s seven tree houses are located on Tanzania’s tropical Chole Island, just off the coast of Mafia Island. Open to the elements, your elevated room is set on ancient baobabs, allowing you an almost bird’s-eye view of mangroves and the the crystal blue ocean. As you sit on your king size bed, your face takes in the soft breeze from the coast as heat encompasses your body. And when you’re back on the ground, sand envelops your feet as the sandy paths lead through the vegetation. As you take in your surroundings, alight your taste buds with the flavorful spicing in your food thanks to a strong Swahili influence. Even as you drift off to sleep, listen to the tide trickling back through the mangrove roots and the murmuring ocean as the fireflies light the black sky.
2. Tongabezi Lodge, Tree House: Zambia
Couples looking for a swoon-worthy stay should look at Tongabezi Lodge’s newly rebuilt Tree House. A Zambian hideaway on the banks of the Zambezi River – just upstream of World Wonder Victoria Falls – the tree house is constructed around the branches of a riverine Ebony tree at the end of a hidden path. If the sensation of floating isn’t from cloud nine, it may be because part of the tree house is suspended over the water. Romance in a nutshell is a perfectly positioned claw footed bath that affords views of the river while bathing: sunset, candles and flower petals.
3. Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, Chalkley Treehouse: South Africa
Every fairytale begins with “Once Upon a Time”. This one begins with those four magical words and ends with Lion Sands Private Game Reserve’s Chalkley Treehouse. Once upon a time, Guy Aubrey Chalkley set up camp in a majestic centuries-old Leadwood Tree to escape predators roaming the plains below. This fairy godmother of a tree that saved Chalkley was chosen to become an exquisite sanctuary for all travelers just outside South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Completely open, the present-day tree house is a lavish platform under the African stars with all the comforts that you can experience at a five-star safari lodge. You are guided to the tree house at sunset where a picnic dinner awaits. And, as sunlight turns to moonlight, this protective tree holds you high above the predators of the night as you are free to take in your magical surroundings.
4. Kaingo Camp, Elephant Hide: Zambia
Those who wish to experience an explorer’s thrill in rustic, unknown territory, Kaingo Camp’s Elephant Hide in the South Luangwa is the answer. Your bed is set on a wooden platform that rests in the boughs of an Ebony tree along a socially active riverbank. This is above the location of a centuries old elephant highway. For hundreds of years, knowledge has passed from elders to juvenile elephants about this river crossing, a center for drinking, mud bathing, social greetings and traversing. When the elephants come to the river crossing point (a daytime occurrence), the tree house’s observation deck has the best vantage point. Two people can comfortably sleep here and enjoy the simple ambiance while you take in the titillation of the African bush and the natural order of things, as elephants engage in a tradition passed down through generations.
5. Tarangire Treetops: Tanzania
All accommodation at Tarangire Treetops are tree houses (there are 20 in total), all managing to capture a home away from home feel. Maybe it is due to the fact that each tree house boasts one of the largest bedrooms to be found in any camp or lodge in East Africa – 64 square meters – complete with double shower en suite bathroom; the use of local, natural materials embellished with modern decor; and an open-fronted room design with views from a large private balcony. The host of smiles from the local Maasai and the comfort in accommodations emit a welcoming warmth. You’re in another world, views stretching across the Maasai land, the Tarangire plains; and yet, you feel completely at ease, nowhere near homesick and hoping you’ll never have to leave.