Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Rinaldo Wurglitsch, 2012)
The Supertree Grove dominating the landscape at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is no doubt impressive, boasting fine-dining, a treetop walk and a panoramic city view from as high as 50 metres. But should you crave for more remarkable encounters with trees, here are some ‘tree-rific’ experiences around the world to consider.
Walk into a tree, sober
The Sunland “Big Baobab” in Limpopo Province, South Africa, is famous for being the largest of its kind after surviving 6,000 years — and for having a pub in its cavernous hollows. Around 22 metres tall and 47 metres in circumference, the massive tree has space for a wine cellar and a bar fully-capable of hosting a party of more than 50 people. Complete with benches, draft beer, a music system and a dartboard, the cosy Baobab Tree Bar offers visitors a truly unique drinking experience. Located within a farm, the Baobab’s large canopies allow for tables and chairs to be set out beneath it for dining and there are also five thatched ‘jungalows’ with open-air en suite bathrooms for accommodation.
Live the high life
Staying in a treehouse is a childhood dream come true for many. And though the magic of being tucked away high up in the air in one’s own special nook remains, treehouse hotels are veering away from the classic fairytale treehouses and are instead touting luxurious facilities. The Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, for example, has six villas and 10 private suites that come with floor to ceiling windows, a fireplace and an infinity pool.
Beyond luxury, contemporary designs and considerations such as eco-friendliness are also hallmarks of the Swedish Treehotel, where each of the six treehouses in the Luleå valley is uniquely designed. Spend your forest nights in masterpieces ranging from a futuristic UFO to a mirrored cube reflecting its natural surroundings.
Eat your way up — literally
Over in Thailand, Soneva Kiri, an eco-resort sitting in a lush tropical rainforest on the Koh Kood island, provides guests an option to fine-dine atop a tree. A bamboo pod is hoisted up a tree till it is nestled comfortably among its foliage and diners are served by personal waiters whizzing down on a zip-line with gourmet delights from a jungle-themed menu. Keeping in line with the green efforts of the resort, the treepod does not use any bolts or attachments to the trees. Treepod dining is available throughout the day and diners have a chance to experience a serene breakfast or a breathtaking sunset over crystal waters before partaking a candlelit dinner.
Swing baby, it’s not the end
Tree swings are child’s play, but not this one at Baños, Ecuador. Known as “the swing at the end of the world”, it overlooks a deep ravine with steep slopes. The tall swing hangs off the Casa Del Arbol, a treehouse used to monitor the nearby active volcano, Mount Tungurahua, and is made of the bare minimum of ropes and a thin beam with no safety harness. Soaring at a height of 2,600 metres above sea level, the swing presents a terrifying but amazing view to thrill-seekers, potentially mesmerising enough to forget to hold on or tempting enough to leap into the abyss below.
Get an instant adrenaline fix
If bungee jumping off a bridge is too mainstream for those looking for a one-of-a-kind feat, Bungee Adventures offers a monthly chance for jumpers to do it in the Redwood Forest of California. This “tree-in-one” adventure consists of climbing about 45 metres up a tree, walking a tightrope between two giant trees, then taking the final dive down towards the ground in a rush of adrenaline. This is probably the closest experience one can get to the land diving ritual practiced by the men of the Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. In this dramatic ceremony, they jump off wooden towers with tree vines wrapped around their ankles.