Six great treehouses – monkey business optional

Six great treehouses – monkey business optional

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By Richard Hammond
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B&Bs and traditional hotels are all very well, but sometimes is fun to get in the foliage and live like a monkey for a few days. Here’s a few of our favourite treehouses around the world. Where’s your favourite?

Keycamp, Northern France

Choose between three treehouses at Keycamp’s family-friendly French campsites – at Carnac and Dol-de-Bretagne in Brittany and at La Croix du Vieux Pont near Disneyland Paris. The domed, thatched treehouses are wrapped around a treetrunk about 5m off the ground up a spiralling staircase. Each has one double and four single beds while on the ground there’s a tent with cooking equipment, fridge and freezer. The kids can use all the campsite’s facilities during the day – then when you’ve tucked them up, you can spend lamp-lit evenings on the terrace.

For prices and bookings see http://www.keycamp.co.uk.

Orion B&B, South of France

Swing from a hammock on a terrace perched 9m high in woodland near Nice. Each of the four cedar redwood treehouses at Orion has an en-suite double room with internet connection – “Shere Khan” has a round teak bath while “King Louie” has a footbridge over to the kids’ bunkbed hideaway. Back on terra firma, soak up the sun on a lounger by a natural swimming pool. After breakfast on the garden-dining patio, the owner, Diane, will show you the short cut up to the pretty medieval village of St Paul de Vence and how to reach the beaches and nightlife of the French Riviera. Though venture too far and you’ll miss the intimate Scandinavian-run La Brouette restaurant, a ten-minute uphill walk in the woods behind the treehouses. After smoked trout while the sun sets, stagger back down through the woods in torchlight to your nest in the trees.

Take the train (http://www.sncf.com) to Nice and then bus #400 to St Paul de Vence, from where it’s a 20min walk to Orion. For prices and booking see orionbb.com (reservations by web only).

La Piantata, Italy

If you wake up not knowing where you are, you’ll soon be reminded that you are 8m up a tree when breakfast arrives via a pulley. Situated among lavender hills, this treehouse for two is a short walk from an olive grove on an organic agriturismo (La Piantata) near the old Etruscan town of Tuscania. The treehouse is in the dense foliage of a century-old oak; there’s a four-poster bed, bathroom, shower and terrace. La Piantata is also a horse-riding centre and it’s just a few kilometres to Lake Bolsena, where you can hire sail-boats for the day.

For prices, booking, itineraries and directions from Rome, Milan and Bologna see http://www.lapiantata.it.

Free Spirit Spheres, Canada

Nestled in your cocoon of comfort, suspended among the canopy of giant Douglas firs, all you can hear is the wind whistling through the leaves and the chatter of forest birds. The only exit is across a suspension bridge to a spiral staircase that winds around the trunk of a tree down to the ground. Here, in a private forest near Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island, is the latest treehouse incarnation: Free Spirit Spheres.

Two wooden capsules, hanging like pendants on a web of ropes attached to three trees, are much cosier than their minimalist exterior might suggest. They are heavily insulated, include a small electric heater, and have been wired for lights, telephone and built-in speakers, so you can exchange the sounds of the forest outside with the surround sound of your iPod and DVDs. The larger of the two spheres, “Eryn” (made from light sitka spruce), has a double bed, table, cupboard space, couch, sink, microwave and refrigerator, while the smaller pod, “Eve” (fashioned out of yellow cedar) is more spartan, with just a double bed and a few cupboards. Back on terra firma, a short walk from the spheres and on the other side of a pond, are all the other necessary amenities, including showers, a sauna, a kitchen and a covered deck for barbecues.

Ferries run from Vancouver to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island (http://www.bcferries.bc.ca), after which you’ll need to catch a bus to Qualicum Beach (http://www.islandlinkbus.com) – ask for Horne Lake Road, from where it is a 1km uphill walk to the camp. For reservations see http://www.freespiritspheres.com.

Take to the trees in Kerala

You can see your accommodation – a wooden hut housing a double bed swathed in a mosquito net, with an attached bathroom and verandah – on top of a giant banyan tree. You don’t fancy shimmying up the 18m trunk to get there though. Thankfully, you’re saved by an ingenious “water lift”.

Babu Varghese – the owner of the treehouses at Green Magic Nature Resort 2, situated at Kalladi, in the hilly district of Wayanad in northeastern Kerala – is the inventor of this unique contraption: a giant bucket is filled with water, which is then used as a counterweight for the caged metal lift that holds the guests. As you wait several minutes for the buckets to fill, you may wish you hadn’t had that extra serving of curry at dinner.

During their stay, every guest is required to plant a sapling to help ensure the forest’s survival. The rest of the time, the resort offers visits to the lovely Soochippara waterfalls, searches for wild elephants, or drives around the surrounding tea plantations. But with the plethora of bushy-tailed Malabar squirrels and brightly coloured song birds in the camp, it would be just as tempting to spend the day sitting in your treehouse, training your binoculars into the branches. It’ll give the staff time to fill the bucket, too.

Kalladi can be reached by taxi in a couple of hours from the cities of Ooty, Kozhikode and Mysore. For further info see http://www.tourindiakerala.com.

Perché dans le Perche in Northern France

Nestled among a 200-year-old châtaignier (sweet chestnut tree) in the hills of southern Normandy, this treehouse at La Renardière offers splendid isolation. There are two double rooms (one has an extra single bed), a small kitchen and large shower room and you can order breakfast (organic bread, home-made jams, seasonal fruit, yoghurt) sitting out on a terrace looking out over green fields. The treehouse is surrounded by a nature reserve – watered by natural springs – that is home to wild boar, roe deer, badgers, foxes and hares, as well as various species of birds and butterflies. Perché dans le Perche is also a good base for hill-walking and mushroom-picking in the nearby Parc Naturel Régional du Perche.

The treehouse is two hours’ drive from Paris and ferry ports at St Malo and Caen. For prices, bookings and directions see http://www.perchedansleperche.com.

 

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