From its position on a protected stretch of the Outeniqua Forest, Teniqua Treetops offers a unique tree house experience in South Africa’s rich Garden Route. In the Outeniqua Forest, it feels like you’re on top of the world. This is a place where the hills undulate like waves – reaching great crests before gushing down into even greater gorges – where yellowwood trees stand tall. At the bottom of these gorges are the rivers – flowing with cola-coloured waters that carry the tannins of the unique fynbos. They create the trickling, flowing, ever moving sound of a lush and rich area. Add to this a symphony of birdsong by mostly unseen residents – including the elusive Knysna Lourie, Forest Buzzards, the Yellow-billed Kite, the Cape Batis, the Black headed Oriole, the mighty Fish Eagle, Spotted Eagle Owls, the Cape Robin, the Forest Canary – and many, many more. The trees in this protected area are nearly as numerous as the birds – creating a thick carpet of rambling life – some more than a thousand years old. Giant Milkwood, Yellowwood, Candlewood and Saffron trees – they stand in thick patches, some blanketed in moss, others crowded by fynbos. Open fields break up the space – providing glimpses of the landscape’s drama.
The structures are built to have minimal impact on the environment – and the forest itself had a say in the position of each one, since they were built only in the existing open gaps in the trees. For this reason, none of the tree houses are the same, their shapes and size informed by their position. Locally sourced, the material used in the construction of the tree houses once again speaks to the eco-mindedness of the owners. Wood that would otherwise have been discarded for its wonky edges and dimension, reclaimed windows from demolished structures, and safari tents that add an air of African Romance to your stay.
Even the ablutions are designed to give back to the forest. Tree houses are equipped with a dry, composting toilet – a waterless system that is both plumbing and chemical free. Instead of using precious water that would eventually run off into the forest and require piping that would disturb the ancient forest floor, the EcoSan system requires only the use of composting leaves – which are full of natural bacteria and are harvested from the forest itself – and a circulating fan which eventually result in fertilizer that nourishes the trees.
Complete with a fully equipped kitchen, bedroom, lounge, and an outdoor deck that takes advantage of the views and is equipped with a Weber braai, these rustic tree houses let you “rough it” in style while taking advantage of eco-minded luxuries like solar and gas-powered energy, purified river water for bathing and fresh, filtered rain water for drinking. Guests are even encouraged to recycle and separate waste that can be used for garden compost.
The Resort – complete with swimming pool, solar jacuzzi, lounge and gaming room for groups and families – offers an escape for all. A series of walks and lookout points around the farm mean guests can experience the landscape first-hand, with walks that meander through different sections of the forest, from the newer pioneering to the older, dense and ancient – all the way down the gorge to the river and back up again with plenty of picnic opportunities along the way.
Above all, a stay at Teniqua Treetops is a stay in the forest. The sound of the wind rushing through the trees, the gentle tip tap of occasional rain on the roof of your tented structure, the views out the windows that reach into the deep green all around you, the constant music of rich birdlife, and the unforgettable feeling of waking up suspended in a canopy of ancient trees.