There’s something magical about a tree house –it harks back to childhood, a place that is safe, sort of hidden but with a good view; a place that is dream-inducing, uniquely in-and-outdoors.
In Africa, a wide variety of tree houses has now been built. Some are romantic with candlelight playing in the surrounding branches, others are more adventure-oriented – built just high enough in rough-hewn walls to feel the adrenaline rush from hearing and watching wild animals not far below. Sleep? Maybe just a wink.
How to choose the right tree house? Take no chances. Instead, take advantage of the wisdom of Chris McIntyre, managing director of Expert Africa, one of the top tour operators in this neck of the woods. Here are some who get his highest marks:
Moja, Mbili, Tatu, Nne, Tano and Saba, each a separate eco-honest tree house within the Chole Mjini Lodge compound. Built of indigenous mangrove wood by the skilled local craftsmen, each is set in a huge ancient baobab tree. Waves lap at the roots of some of them (yes, really, tell your botanist friends), and all are open to the elements on all four sides. Glorious views and soft breezes easing through.
The exotic Chole Mjini Lodge is set on tropical tiny Chole Island, just off the Tanzanian coast and part of the Mafia Island archipelago. (Mafia Island? We kid thee not.) Chole is not as well trod as Zanzibar Island to the north, and virtually unknown. A definite plus.
The Elephant Hide of Kaingo Camp in the South Luangwa is a must for the adventurous traveler. It is tucked inside an enormous national park that supports large populations of giraffe, great herds of elephant and buffalo. Set on a wooden platform nestled between an ebony tree and a sausage tree (getting hungry?) it is high above a centuries-old “elephant highway” through the Luangwa River, one of the major tributaries of the mighty Zambezi.
There’s no place like this home –“The Dove’s Nest” – a multi-level tree house near the Zimbabwe Lodge and set in a leadwood tree in the Hwange National Park. Tiered rooms, a middle floor viewing platform, a high bedroom reached by wooden stairs and a trap door. Love that trap door! Offbeat. In-out. Cool viewing of any of the 100-plus animal species at home in this enormous park.
Recently rebuilt, Tongabezi Lodge’s Tree House has to be one of the most wildly romantic in Southern Africa. Constructed around the branches of a riverine ebony tree on the banks of the Zambezi River, this secluded house spreads over a pine deck, just upstream of Victoria Falls and partly suspended over the water—perfect hyper-real floating sensation.
To zero in on the right tree house for you, contact the London-based Chris McIntyre of Expert Africa with your wishes. He will produce customized itineraries that will hit one or more of these unique and extraordinarily exciting ways to spend a night. Call toll-free 800-242-2434 or click www.expertafrica.com.
“Bush Night” in Tanzania
Beho Beho, a private camp in the Selous Game Reserve (Africa’s largest), is setting up a moveable feast of the tree house experience. Chris McIntyre says, “This is a way of camping that will enable guests to overnight in several tree houses during one stay. Without doubt, this will be highly original, luxurious and slightly quirky in the best of ways.”