A luxury, private Selous treehouse in the wilderness offers guests the chance to enjoy a safari under the stars in the middle of the African bush – one of Tanzania’s best safari experiences. You’ll experience the savannah at its most intoxicating and witness the majesty of the wilderness night sky.
Our luxurious camp in Selous was set in the game reserve’s highlands to take advantage of the cooling breezes. The camp comprised individual bandas – stone-built, palm-frond-thatched cottages – rather than the tented accommodation one usually associates with such lodges. It was small and intimate with wonderfully friendly hosts: in fact, it felt more like a home than a full-blown safari lodge.
As comfortable as our bandas were, what my partner and I really wanted to experience was a night in a Selous treehouse, in the heart of the African wilderness. A safari under the stars is one of the unique offerings in this part of Selous. Our hosts readily agreed to arrange it for us.
Exclusively reserved for two people, this Selous treehouse is a fabulous, optional extra available to guests at our lodge. The experience started in mid-afternoon when we left camp on foot, accompanied by an armed guide. We walked for about two hours through the splendid isolation of the Selous wilderness, until we arrived at our lofty home for the night. It was a magnificent sight, perched in the leafy branches of a giant leadwood tree overlooking a dry riverbed. I knew immediately that his would be no ordinary sleep out.
Branches enveloped us as we climbed to our leafy nest. The Selous treehouse came with a double bed swathed in mosquito netting, and an en-suite bathroom complete with – would you believe it – a flush toilet. It was, quite simply, idyllic.
We had the choice of either sleeping under the stars or under the cover of a canvas pavilion (the bed came complete with wheels, fine bed linen and a comfortable duvet). In fact, our ‘house’ had everything we could have wish for when sleeping up a tree in the middle of the African wilderness.
We enjoyed a cocktail and then we both had a hot shower to wash away the dust of our walk. By now, it was getting late and we watched a flaming sunset from our deck. When the sky turned from salmon to purple, we were escorted to a clearing for a campfire dinner under the stars, entertained and protected by our marvellous guide, who regaled us with tales of the bush.
After an evening of stargazing and fireside conversation, we were led back to the treehouse. I didn’t want to go to bed quite yet. We stood for ages on the deck staring up at the stars. The African night sky is free of pollution or city lights, dark as pitch and glittering with diamonds.
Then we climbed into bed. It was snug and warm under the duvet, and yet our perch was completely open to the elements. The sounds and smells, the feeling of sheer wildness, are unforgettable. The scent of the earth’s muskiness, a half moon casting its pale light, the trilling of crickets. It was mysterious, comforting, beguiling.
Here we were, just the two of us, sleeping out of doors … and perfectly safe. Just think, there could have been lion, hyena or even elephant just a few metres away, yet there we were in our idyllic treetop eyrie.
We got up several times during the night to see whether there was any action down below. ‘Look!’ my partner whispered, pointing at a nearby bush. I peered through my binoculars and saw the dark, speckled shape of a hyena loping along the dry riverbed, up to mischief no doubt. Later, we spotted a giraffe ghosting silently through the bush like a tall exclamation mark. Then it was back to bed, serenaded by the call of a fiery-necked nightjar – ‘good lord deliver us,’ it sang – and the occasional baritone hoot of an owl.
Dawn arrived with a cacophony of birdsong: it was as though we were in a giant aviary. Then came early morning tea. I didn’t really want to get out of bed and could probably have lain recumbent in our nest all day. But my partner was keen to greet the morning, so we headed off on foot with our guide to see the animals at their most prolific. There were antelope of every kind, zebra, wildebeest and a fleeting glimpse of jackal. Upon returning for breakfast, a suitably attired chef cooked up a gourmet meal that would have satisfied the heartiest of appetites.
We completed our Selous treehouse experience with a lovely walk back to our lodge. Our one night alone in the wild had been a romantic, private experience that I’ll never forget. Sleeping in a treehouse had added an unforgettable dimension to our Tanzanian safari, and the kind of close and personal engagement with the night-time wilderness that few tourists ever encounter.