A treehouse makes for the ultimate safari lodge - there’s nothing quite like a giant fig tree spiralling through your suite to make you feel totally immersed in the wonder and romance of Africa. And the best part: many of these camps are semi-permanent, meaning that everything can be totally removed to leave the landscape exactly as it was before. Aesthetically, the results of this eco-friendly approach can be simply astounding – here’s our top 12 selection of the most luxurious treehouse lodges, forest suites and sleep-outs in Africa.
1. Tinyeleti Treehouse, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
Lion Sands Game Reserve is not only famous for its excellent game viewing and world-class hospitality but arguably even more so for its trio of ultra-luxe and incredibly romantic treehouses, which can be booked in conjunction with a stay at one of the permanent lodges. Tinyeleti Treehouse is located in big game country on the Sabie River, within the Greater Kruger region.
Dinner is a gourmet picnic basket, accompanied by the sound of evening birdsong, the soft chirruping of nocturnal insects and the gentle susurration of the river. Tinyeleti is family-friendly and can accommodate up to two adults and two children. Your guide will drop you off in the late afternoon and collect you at sunrise. You’ll have everything you need for the night, including a two-way radio.
2. Chalkley Treehouse, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
Chalkley Treehouse is built at the site where, in the 1930s, explorer Guy Aubrey Chalkley was thought to set up camp in a centuries-old leadwood tree. Listen out for the far-off contact calling of lions, the chortle-chortle of hippos that come out at night to graze on the grass and the occasional and unforgettable call of a roaming hyena.
The Chalkley Treehouse is perfect for couples, and your evening picnic basket consists of tapas-style delicacies and an excellent bottle of South African red wine.
3. Kingston Treehouse, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve
The last of the Lion Sands Treehouse trio, the Kingston Treehouse is flanked by giant boulders and woodlands at the rear, and is positioned to enjoy sweeping views and sunsets in the west. This treehouse is constructed entirely from wood and glass and, unlike the other Lion Sands treehouse suites, it has a roof so you are ensured your night in the wilderness regardless of the weather.
Each of the treehouses at Lion Sands are equipped with en suite bathrooms with all the lavish amenities you can come to expect at the Lion Sands permanent lodges. Each treehouse is equipped with a toilet and vanity, and The Kingstone Treehouse also has a shower.
4. Ngaga Camp, Odzala National Park
The tranquil Ngaga Camp is situated on the fringe of the Odzala National Park in Congo. Set in the second-largest tropical rainforest on Earth, this pioneering camp is raised off the forest floor to ensure a minimal environmental impact.
Ngaga’s forest bungalows offer exceptional 360-degree views straight into the emerald heart of Africa, teeming with exotic birds and inquisitive colobus monkeys. Go on guided treks to discover the forest’s most elusive secret: western lowland gorillas.
This camp is ideal for adventurous couples looking for an off-the-beaten track nature experience in a truly remote and remarkable destination.
5. Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park
Don’t let the cosy bush setting fool you: Singita Lebombo is one of South Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges. It’s built on a woodland hillside on a private concession in the Kruger and overlooks the N’Wanetsi River. Each suite at Singita Lebombo has an inviting daybed on the deck so you can while away the afternoon in the leafy shade or choose to spend the night outdoors with the stars twinkling overhead.
6. Hog Hollow Country Lodge, Garden Route
Located in a private nature reserve on South Africa’s Garden Route, Hog Hollow Country Lodge is nestled on the edge of a beautiful indigenous forest and boasts breath-taking views of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. The suites at this private oasis are situated in lush gardens, each equipped with private wooden decks that offer jaw-dropping views over a bird-watching paradise. If you’re a birder look out for Knysna loeries, a colourful species of turaco that inhabits these mature forests.
7. Forest Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve
Phinda Private Game Reserve is a conservation triumph where former agricultural land is being restored to its former glory. Forest Lodge is a series of also Zen-like rooms sunk between the moss and tree trunks of a swathe of forest; the large expanses of glass make you feel really connected to the trees and twisted vines. Look out for nyala (a small antelope) quietly nibbling the leaves around your suite.
8. Tarangire Treetops, Tarangire National Park
The Baobab Bar and main lodge area at Tarangire Treetops are built around an ancient old baobab tree or ‘Tree of Life’ as it is sometimes known in Africa. Tarangire Treetops is located in a private wildlife concession in Tarangire National Park. Your lofty position from the treetop suites – which are built on wooden platforms among the highest branches of the surrounding baobab, mopani and wild fig trees – give you glimpses of Lake Manyara and the Rift Valley wall.
Roofs are thatched, while walls consist of mosquito netting and canvas flaps that can be rolled up completely, allowing you to utterly immerse yourself in nature and the life-giving warmth of Africa’s sunshine.
9. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara is located on Tanzania’s northern safari circuit, not far from the Serengeti and world-renowned Ngorongoro Crater. In a lush groundwater forest of ancient fig and mahogany trees, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge allows you to feel totally at one with this green wonderland. There are just 10 luxurious stilted treetop suites at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, and it’s the only accommodation within the Lake Manyara National Park, ensuring you a totally exclusive experience.
10. Rubondo Island Camp, Lake Victoria
Aside for Rubondo Island Camp, the remote and unspoilt Rubondo Island is a totally uninhabited island on the south-western corner of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. At this unique camp, you can go chimpanzee trekking, see forest elephant and fall asleep in their unique treehouse suite, black-and-white, fuzzy-tailed colobus monkeys leaping balletically from branch to branch.
There’s just one treehouse at Rubondo Island Camp – its set a bit further back from the other suites among the forest, and is perfect for a true wilderness escape where there is nothing separating you and the unspoilt wilderness of the island.
11. Hyena Pan Tented Camp, Okavango Delta
Hyena Pan is a remote tented camp built around a private waterhole in the wildlife-rich Khwai River area – renowned for exceptional year-round sightings of elephant, buffalo, hippo, big cats, wild dogs and spotted hyena.
The camp’s unique blockbusters are its ‘sky beds’. These elevated platforms are perched five metres (15 feet) above the ground and overlook a well-frequented waterhole. They consist of two levels: a bathroom on the lower level, with the upper deck being your romantic bedroom under the stars. Fall asleep under a spectacular African sky to the sounds of the Okavango Delta’s nocturnal inhabitants.
12. Tsala Treetop Lodge, Garden Route
In the forests of South Africa’s Garden Route, Tsala Treetop Lodge offers privacy, luxury and romantic views, while still being within easy reach of beach festivities at Plettenberg Bay and other seaside villages. Built from stone and timber, Tsala Treetops encapsulates the cosy aesthetic of a typical forest lodge, and is connected via wooden walkways that meander through the indigenous woodlands.
Whatever type of treehouse experience you prefer, one thing is certain: there’s no better place to share the dreamy African skies with the one you love. Whether you’re on a free-standing star bed in the middle of Big 5 country, or are immersed in one of Africa’s precious forests, you’ll be given the chance to connect with nature (not Wi-Fi!), listen to the quiet sounds and distant howls of the night, and watch the moon and stars travel through the sky overhead – what could possibly be more romantic?