There’s a little excited child within us all.
That same little infant who thrilled at pillow forts, relished the excitement of camping and gazed dreamily into the forest canopy, wondering what secrets may lay within the topmost branches of trees, still inwardly giggles in glee at the prospect of spending the night in a treehouse.
Of course, as the years pass, so too increases the desire for creature comforts, security and a reluctance to scramble upwards through the limbs of a tree, but the whispered enthusiasm remains.
Fortunately, the concept of a treehouse has also advanced, evolving from a few hastily-nailed planks on mismatched branches to luxury accommodations around the world and in some of the most breathtaking destinations imaginable.
While the notion of a two-week vacation in a Swiss Family Robinson-style arboreal mansion may be a little unrealistic, many more extensive accommodations will also offer shorter romantic treehouse escapes or bring some coziness to the canopies for a night or two before returning to the more expansive – though no less luxurious – offerings of life at ground level.
Africa has become renowned for its treehouse retreats, several of them gaining exceptional, and more than justified, renown for a uniqueness matched only by their resplendence.
I have numerously mentioned treehouses in several of my blogs, but I would like to take the time to focus upon the experience and share with you some of the lesser-known leafy venues from around the world.
Join me in the treetops…
Though not a tree-borne accommodation as such, Nothofagus evokes many of the qualities of a classic treehouse.
Emerging on the landscape as if growing organically from the forest floor, Nothofagus appears, enveloped by the dense temperate wet forest of Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. Expertly crafted from natural, sustainable materials, Nothofagus combines treehouse nuances with mountain chalet sentiments to create a delightfully congenial environment. The rough-hewn pillars and wall panels seamlessly integrate each suite with the forest outside your window, making you feel at once completely protected yet at one with the forest beyond.
The expansive wilds of Patagonia beckon you from the door, while wonderful cuisine and an indulgent spa welcome you home at the end of every day.
TO DO: Nothofagus is a wonderful destination for the more adventurous traveler. Numerous hiking and cycling trails weave their way through the abundant landscapes, with kayaking and snow sports an option through the winter months.
PERU: TITICACA LODGE
Again, technically not a treehouse – there are few trees to be seen for miles around – Titicaca Lodge nonetheless is an incredible venue established on plantlife.
Many years ago, Titicaca’s Uros people left the shores of Lake Titicaca for their protection, drifting across the tranquil surface of the lake and away from invading peoples, safe on their totora islands. To this day, the Uros still live in their traditionally-crafted floating homes.
Celebrating the ancient cultures of the Uros, the lodge is built on a floating island of totora reeds, just as the Uros have done for many hundreds of years. Walls and roofs also are made of sustainable totora, giving these unique organic cabins wonderful insulation and a pleasant straw-like aroma that only adds to the coziness of these floating cabins.
TO DO: Titicaca is an immersive experience, both within the natural region and in the culture of the Uros. Drift in the tranquility of this expansive waterway aboard a traditional reed boat, visit the floating villages of the Uros and keep an eye out for the diversity of indigenous wildfowl and raptors.
AUSTRALIA: WOLLEMI WILDERNESS TREEHOUSE
The Australian wilderness is open to endless potential. Just two hours from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are the perfect, easily-accessible immersion in that wilderness. With the meandering Bowen’s Creek Gorge offering sweeping views across lush rainforests, Wilderness Treehouse creates an almost giddying sense of elevation.
The single cabin for two is self-catered, but provides a small kitchen, en suite and stunning spa bath, in which you can soak with a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée in hand as you lose yourself in the expansive vistas beyond.
TO DO: This is a wonderful destination in which to experience solitude. Wander the region’s rainforests, birdwatch from your balcony or indulge in a wonderfully pampering massage in your cabin. The Blue Mountains are also somewhat gastronomically renowned, and a foodie tour of the local towns will offer up a smorgasbord of fresh produce and divine cuisine.
AUSTRALIA: SILKY OAKS LODGE
Similarly immersed in the Australian rainforest, Silky Oaks Lodge is to the north, in the prehistoric surrounds of the Daintree. The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is over 180 million years old and still home to many of the world’s oldest plant species. The canopy soars 165 feet (50 meters) skywards making you feel somewhat dwarfed by its immensity. A fascinating destination for flora and fauna, it also borders the Great Barrier Reef.
Silky Oaks Lodge is luxury in the treetops, with a fine dining restaurant and extensive spa treatments offered within the central lodge. 40 treehouses are hidden away amongst the towering trees, the gently-trickling creek echoing soothingly throughout the glades. Contemporary-styled, each treehouse has been acutely constructed sustainably and in absolute harmony with its surroundings, combining the comfort and luxury of a premium hotel suite with the intimacy of a solitary treehouse.
TO DO: With the Daintree on one side of the coast and the Great Barrier Reef on the other, Silky Oaks is a nature lover’s paradise. The venue itself is indulgently pampering, with fine food and spa treatments readily available, but the rich natural abundance begs you to venture throughout the region to take in this captivating Heritage-listed part of the world.
SRI LANKA: UGA JUNGLE BEACH
For those with Hitchcockian fears of elevation, Uga Jungle Beach brings the treehouse experience almost to ground level, and onto the breathtaking shores of Sri Lanka.
Handcrafted from natural materials, each lodge within the venue is intimately enveloped in the foliage of the coastal jungle, giving you a sense of complete seclusion. Grass roofs and timber structures intertwine naturally with the surrounding forest, making one question where the architecture ends and the natural world begins.
With hints of a castaway creation, the venue exudes tropical luxury, despite feeling utterly symbiotic with the coastal jungle landscapes.
TO DO: Sri Lanka is steeped in history. The nearby city of Trincomalee is truly captivating, and its fascinating past offers a rare glimpse into a bygone era shrouded in mystery and folklore. The pristine ocean is also a spectacular attraction for snorkeling and whale watching.
KENYA: LOISABA STAR BEDS
You have likely seen several of Africa’s more iconic treehouses, their gated towers rising from the grasslands with a four-post bed swathed in fly nets elegantly perched on their summit.
Loisaba isn’t one of those.
Loisaba Star Beds are a small collection of lodges in Kenya’s Laikipia County. With the undulating Loisaba conservancy cascading towards the horizon, Loisaba is poised in the perfect hillside position from which to imbibe the intoxicating landscape below.
Each lodge has a more firmly established living area, large boulders forming the walls and natural timbers supporting the thatched roof and large dining balcony. At night, this balcony transforms into your star-canopied bedroom, with staff rolling out your very own handcrafted bed, complete with traditional Maasai throw and encompassing shroud of mosquito netting. Perhaps not a treehouse in the truest sense, Loisapa nonetheless gives you a timber-clad lofty perspective of the surrounding plains.
TO DO: Safaris and game drives are, of course, one to Loisaba’s primary activities. Yet, like so much about this wonderful venue, even these can be undertaken a little differently. With a more conventional 4×4 option also available, you can choose to venture onto the plains on camels or horseback, on a mountain bike or by foot. Bordering one of Kenya’s most important elephant movement corridors, this is a wonderful opportunity to witness wildlife from a more tangible perspective.
SOUTH AFRICA: TSALA TREETOP LODGE
15 minutes inland from the southern shores of South Africa, Tsala Treetop Lodge combines 10 luxury treetop suites with a more established central lodge incorporating the dining area, gymnasium and yoga studio.
The suites are considerately staggered throughout the canopy to ensure privacy and solitude, while the interior combines modern furnishings, colonial design and organic aspects befitting of the location.
Though Tsala doesn’t present a similarly abundant outlook of grasslands teeming with wildlife, it allows you a certain sense of exotic adventure without relinquishing comfort, space and indulgence, unlike many of its African peers.
Tsala takes advantage of its location, with ocean to the south and the expanse of the African continent to the north, providing a wealth of experiences – albeit in the absence of the iconic safari – within a day’s excursion.
TO DO: Tsala presents a stunning destination for honeymooners. Sublimely romantic, tranquil and indulgent, it is a dreamily idyllic setting. However, South Africa is known as one of the world’s greatest adventure capitals and a wealth of experiences await, from bungee jumping and kayaking to sailing, whale watching and golfing.
Treehouses offer a remarkably unique perspective on your vacation, no matter where in the world they may be. From romantic one-night stays to more extended family vacations, there is an arboreal experience waiting for you.
Talk to your Travel Designer today about incorporating some nocturnal elevation into your itinerary.