Explore the famous trees and treetops of South Africa: gaze up at the lush green canopies of some of the tallest and oldest trees on the African continent and stare out in wonder at the emerald oceans of unspoiled forests surrounding your tree house accommodation – what a view!
Famous South African trees
If you’re in the nation’s capital Pretoria, be sure to visit the Wonderboom – a 1000-year-old wild fig tree with a colossal trunk, beneath which folklore says the chief of a local tribe was laid to rest. It can be found at the Wonderboom Nature Reserve to the north of the city.
Near Tzaneen, stop in at the Modjadji Cycad Reserve, which is named after the legendary rain-making queen of the Balobedu tribe. Here you can wander among these evergreen cycads, which are a species of plant that date back millions of years, and are regarded as living fossils.
On the road between Gravelotte and Leydsdorp, a giant baobab has been turned into a pub, a great place to stop for a drink and admire this uniquely African tree. The biggest baobab in the country is the Sagole Giant in the Limpopo Valley – it’s trunk it over 10 meters wide.
Along the Garden Route on South Africa’s south-east coast lies the Big Tree, a towering yellowwood tree in the Knysna Forest that is approximately 660 years old. Further down the scenic route in the town of George, you’ll find the country’s largest oak tree in front of the public library, which was planted in 1811. (Incidentally, South Africa’s tallest tree is a 100m-high blue gum in the Woodbush Forest Reserve in Magoebaskloof.) In Mossel Bay, you can post a very special letter at the Old Post Office Tree. Back in the 1500s, Portuguese sailors would leave letters inside an old boot beneath this large milkwood tree for other explorers to find, establishing South Africa’s first post office which is now a national monument.
Canopy tours for the adrenaline junkie
If you have a head for heights and enjoy the buzz of adrenaline, a canopy tour is eco-adventure not to be missed. You’ll sail from platform to platform, sliding along steel cables that are securely strung between trees and across magnificent gorges.
There are canopy tours in five amazing locations throughout South Africa, including the Tsitsikamma rainforest, along the rock face of the Ysterhout Kloof in the Magaliesberg mountain range, beneath the waterfall in the Karkloof forest reserve, over the Groot Letaba River gorge of the Magoebaskloof, and in the shadow of the beautiful Cathkin Peak in the Drakensberg.
Tree house accommodation in SA
For a unique experience, South Africa has a number of guesthouses and lodges where you can spend the night sleeping several meters off the ground, nestled in the boughs of a sturdy tree – with the wind whistling through the leaves surrounding you.
Tsala Treetop Lodge
The five-star Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay is the “perfect balance between nature and voluptuous luxury”. The ten treetop suites and six villas are opulent; definitely a breakaway for those with deep pockets.
Bonamanzi Tree Houses
In the heart of Zululand, on Lake St Lucia, the tree houses at Bonamanzi are comfortably equipped and perfect for families.
Sycamore Avenue Tree House
You’ll be hard-pressed to find more fantastical and eccentrically decorated tree house accommodation in South Africa! Take your pick from the Fantasy House, the Bottle Tree House, and more eye-boggling wonders.
Situated above the Karatara River Gorge in the Outeniqua foothills, the Teniqua tree houses are a great woodland getaway. The four honeymoon treetop suites offer sweeping views of the Knysna forest and romantic sunsets.