By Stef Terblanche
Whether in search of a truly romantic getaway, or a desire to get as close to nature as possible, or simply just to fulfil your childhood fantasy of living like Tarzan, staying in a treehouse with only a canopy of leaves and the stars above your bed, has a kind of universal appeal…well, maybe not for everyone but for many of us. For those among us who have never before slept in Mother Nature’s own bedroom, now is a good time to do so.
Fortunately, there are many treehouse stays available in South Africa, ranging from fairly basic to ultra-luxurious, from the safe and conservative to the wildly adventurous just a breath away from lions and other awesome creatures. And they are spread across all our diverse locations, from Big 5 country in the Kruger National Park, to the arid Karoo plains of the Northern Cape, to the isolated beauty of the Waterberg, and down to the Eastern Cape and the Knysna Forest along the Garden Route.
To give our readers a better idea of what’s on offer, we selected for this edition of our regular feature, ‘8 of the Best’, a diverse variety of treehouse stays around the country. But remember, as always, this is only a sample and there are many more treehouse destinations you can enjoy. What better way than this to isolate, maintain our distance and avoid the crowds! PS: The only crowds you might encounter, will be the beautiful wild animals and birds that inhabit our reserves.
Bushwa Treehouse, Waterberg
The Bushwa Treehouse is part of the Bushwa Private Game Lodge which is located high up on a hill in a private reserve with expansive views of the Waterberg Mountain. It is within the Greater Waterberg Biosphere in Limpopo Province, a magical part of the country with lush vegetation, rivers and streams, hills and mountains, and of course its animal kingdom. The nearest town is Vaalwater, roughly a 2-to-3-hour drive from Johannesburg.
This is a truly wonderful treehouse set in a cluster of trees overlooking a waterhole. From your deck or even your bed you can watch a variety of animals quenching their thirst at the waterhole below. This raised treetop retreat has no electricity but does have solar powered lights and a geyser. Guests who plan on staying there, will need their own vehicle to drive to and from the main lodge for meals.
Apart from the treehouse, Bushwa Private Game Lodge also offers other exclusive accommodation, including the luxurious Safari Lodge, Rhino Bush Camp, and Tsamma Bush Spa. It is the perfect spot for a weekend safari in a malaria free area and what better way to do it than using a romantic treehouse as your base. Bushwa offers a variety of activities, from guided game drives to lazy days at the swimming pool and soothing spa treatments. This is truly a piece of bushveld paradise designed to relax and sooth the soul, engulf the senses and bring you back to tranquil nature.
Contact: Email firstname.lastname@example.org;
Tel +27 (0)15 793 0259 or +27 (0)82 562 1842;
Ngala Treehouse, Ngala Private Game Reserve
Cosy up in luxurious style to the star-lit African skies in your bed in this magnificent 4-level treehouse surrounded only by the African bush and all the wonderful creatures that live in it, yet in total safety. The treehouse forms part of the and BEYOND Ngala Safari Lodge, a timeless safari lodge situated in a private concession in the Ngala Private Game Reserve which shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park. Ngala, which means lion in the local language, offers guests a most incredible Big Five wildlife experience, in relative privacy away from the crowds due to exclusive traversing rights on 14,700 hectares of this fabulous Big 5 country.
The treehouse is set on 4 different levels including 2 different sleep areas: level 3 with its king-size bed is covered and waterproof, while level 4 features an open sleeping platform under retractable awning. Surrounded by all the necessary creature comforts, you can enjoy sumptuous meals under the stars, toast the sunset from your deck, and watch the passing parade of wild animals.
Completely off the grid, this treehouse promises luxury and comfort while offering the most exclusive wilderness experience. Safaris are led by expert andBEYOND-trained ranger and tracker teams, that ensure sensitive off-roading practices to allow close-up game sightings of elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe and more.
The Ngala Treehouse Experience can only be booked when booking one or more nights at either andBEYOND Ngala Safari Lodge or andBEYOND Ngala Tented Camp, in the event that guests need to return to their room due to bad weather.
Contact: website www.andbeyond.com.
Osfontein Treehouse, Carnarvon, Northern Cape
A treehouse with a lake in the middle of the vast plains of the arid Great Karoo – that’s what you’ll find at Osfontein in the Northern Cape. Located just outside the history-soaked town of Carnarvon with its awesome museum, the Osfontein Tree House features tented sleeping on a raised platform and a balcony with views of a dam and the endless Karoo veld with its unique hills and rock formations. It’s truly something of a little oasis.
High above the ground in trees that are more than a hundred years old and filled with birds, the tree house also comes with a seating area, a dining area and a kitchenette complete with a microwave, a fridge and a stovetop. There is a garden with a barbecue for guests to use. At the back you can open the bathroom and walk onto a patio overlooking a dam surrounded by old trees.
The self-catering treehouse offers accommodation for two with a double bed, en-suite bathroom, with hot shower as well as a kitchenette with fridge/freezer, microwave, two-plate gas stove, cutlery as well as the basic pots and pans. There is a braai area and swimming pool at ground level and firewood is for sale at the farmhouse. There is plenty to see and learn in nearby Carnarvon. On the guest farm guests can enjoy long and refreshing hikes, ride their mountain bikes, explore the trails, or just relax to the sound of birds in the trees.
Also on the farm, are the Osfontein Antieke Klip Guesthouses. These are meticulously restored, roughly hewn Corbelled houses that were built by the first trekboers (nomadic farmers) who arrived in the area from the Western Cape in the early 1800s.
Contact: Tel 053 382 6092, Natasha Cell 072 310 7979, or Stegman Cell 082 662 4092;
Samara Star Bed, Graaff-Reinet
Closer to the Milky Way and more romantic you won’t find, than curling up with your loved one in a four-poster bed under the expansive skies of the Great Karoo. Aptly named Star Bed, this treehouse experience is located on the Milk River in the Samara Private Game Reserve with its two owner-operated luxury lodges, the Karoo Lodge and The Manor. To experience the Star Bed, you have to be booked into one of the two lodges for at least two nights.
Samara is an award-winning conservation project started in 1997 with a desire to restore the Great Karoo to its former glory. Assembling 11 farms totalling 67,000 acres, Samara’s founders vowed to restore the magic of this place. Today, thousands of wild animals roam this rejuvenated wilderness. The lodges accommodate a maximum of 26 guests at a time, thus ensuring you will never feel crowded with each guest having almost the entire place to themselves.
Here you can enjoy sunset drinks and a picnic dinner out in the open, watching the wildlife descend to the nearby water, or take in the astonishing views of the spectacular mountain landscape. There are plenty of fun things to do here, like game drives, family safaris, cheetah tracking, fly camping, walking safaris, wilderness picnics, mountain biking, and much more.
Samara is located in the Eastern Cape Province, 53km south-east of historic Graaff-Reinet, the country’s 4th oldest town and renowned for its meticulously restored and whitewashed Cape Dutch, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Karoo-style architecture. (Images supplies by Jared Ruttenberg)
Contact: Reservations Tel +27 (0) 31 262 0324; Lodge Te +27 (0) 49 940 0059 or +27 (0) 49 891 0880;
Teniqua Treetops, Garden Route
It was John Muir the naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, and glaciologist also known as ‘John of the Mountains’ and the father of some of America’s best known national parks who said, “And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul”. And that’s exactly what you will be doing during a stay at the Teniqua Treetops situated within the magical Knysna Forest along the famous Garden Route. Here you will be spoilt for experiences when it comes to natural beauty and adventure, or just soaking up the soul-soothing healing powers of relaxing in such a wondrous environment.
Teniqua Treetops is an exclusive 3-star rated self-catering resort with a number of stunning couples or family-sized treehouses. It is situated in 36 hectares of pure garden forest some 16km off the N2, just 20 minutes away from the charming little village of Sedgefield. On-site facilities include the De Adder Padda bush bar serving among other things some local brews. There’s also a petting zoo, art gallery, 2 forest trails and a river walk giving guests access to the Karatara river and rock pools.
The suites are built in a gorge, so access is from ground level and the front of the suites are built on stilts ranging from two to six meters above ground, which provide breath-taking views of the Karatara Gorge or the magical Knysna Forest with its lush green canopy. Each suite is a combination of tent canvas, wood and glass while materials and furnishings are kept to eco-friendly standards.
All suites have a shaded carport, an outside decked patio area and a weber braai, fridge, microwave and gas cooker with crockery and cutlery to comfortably see you through the nights. The different treehouse suites have lovely descriptive names like Louries Nest, Moon-over-Milkwood, Gorge View, and Greenbeard.
Contact: Tel +27 (0)44 356 2868; Cell +27 (0)83 551 1117; Email email@example.com;
Thabametsi Treehouse, Marakele National Park
Pictures by Jared Ruttenberg
Only 3 ½ hours’ drive from Johannesburg or 45 minutes by private air charter, lies the Marataba concession of Marakele National Park, with its Thabametsi Treehouse exclusively for the use of guests booked into either Marataba Safari Lodge or Marataba Mountain Lodge.
Marataba is a 21,000-hectare (68,000-acre), privately managed section of the Marakele National Park and uniquely situated where lush bushveld gives way to the Kalahari sands, in Limpopo Province. As a contractual National Park, Marataba is one of South Africa’s most innovative conservation models.
With more than 1,000 acres of wilderness for every guest bed, Marataba offers intimate game viewing experiences from one of four lodges and camps, each with their own character and charm.
Thabametsi Treehouse is part of the MORE Treehouses Collection which is part of the MORE Lodges & Hotels group. The treehouse sits right under the strikingly beautiful sheer cliffs of the Waterberg in Marataba. As you snuggle into your four-poster bed, embrace the black night with surround-sound supplied by the Big 5. Listen to the baboons barking as they bed down for the night in the cliffs above, and the lion roaring on the plains below.
Your day consists of all that you wish to fit in or not between sunrise and sunset. Maybe you just want to laze on your deck and take in the beautiful views, or you may go on game drives with professional guides, or enjoy the specialist hiking trails, or sunset water safaris, tuck into a sumptuous meal, then round off your day with sundowners on the deck before turning in for a night’s sleep under the stars.
Vindoux Treehouses, Tulbagh
Only a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, set in the lush Tulbagh Valley and the foothills of the Saronsberg Mountains, there is a little piece of heaven – the Vindoux Tree House Guest Farm & Spa. Enjoy a touch of quirkiness in these treehouses, each secluded among trees bordering a game camp or orchards, with views of the wildlife, orchards and majestic mountains from your balcony.
The treehouses sleep two and are individually styled to include an en-suite bathroom with large spa bath, high quality bed linen, fluffy robes, tea and coffee-making facilities and private braai areas. All you have to do is add the romance, but that certainly isn’t difficult in this breath-taking environment. Breakfast is served directly to your treehouse in bed, or you could enjoy it on the deck, watching the springbok grazing nearby. Onsite dining also extends to picnics, cheese boards and platters, which provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy a romantic meal under the stars in your treehouse.
Vindoux is a family-run guest farm offering a Day Spa with a wide variety of beauty and relaxation treatments including single or couples’ massages, a gym for workouts, fishing in the dam, game viewing from your tree house, visits to local wine farms, exploring the historic and beautiful town of Tulbagh, going for long walks and more.
Contact: Sophie du Toit Cell +27 (0)82 404 7778; Tel +27 (0)23 230 0635;