As a traveler, you can describe Kenya using many adjectives but ‘boring’ is not one of them. Not even close. For starters, Kenya is a window into what has been described as the “greatest wildlife spectacle on earth”. It’s the wildebeest’s ongoing dramatic fight – and their flight for life – that reaches an electrifying crescendo as they cross the Mara River. If there were no other attractions to draw you to Kenya, that would be reason enough to start booking your flight.
Fortunately, when it comes to Kenya, nature is guilty of extravagance, perhaps even wastefulness. The coastline is home to a number of stunning beaches with fine sand and absolutely incredible views. The interior is world famous for its national parks where animals, especially the graceful big cats are found in abundance, roaming majestically through dense jungles or rolling savannah grasslands. Yet, that’s only half the story. Known in travel circles as the birthplace of safari, Kenya is home to some of the best hotels and lodges on the continent offering stunning views of the beautiful African landscape. And for that, Treetops Lodge, inside the scenic Aberdare National Park, has few peers.
Treetops Lodge and the story of Queen Elizabeth
It was a cold Monday morning, typical of February in England. A few minutes after seven o’clock, a royal servant stood at the door of King George VI’s bedroom. He pulled himself together, then gently tapped the door. There was no response. He knocked again. Still no answer. He called the king’s name softly and waited for a muffled response early in the morning. However, the room was still quiet. It was strange because the king was a light sleeper. Jimmy McDonald therefore decided to turn the nob and enter the king’s chamber. He was greeted by the lifeless body of King George VI. It was February 6, 1952. Within minutes, news of the King’s death had reached members of the Royal Family and senior British government officials.
But this could not yet be announced publicly. Elizabeth, the daughter and natural heiress of King VI, was on holiday in Kenya en route to Australia and New Zealand. The night her father died, the princess had taken up residence at Treetops Lodge, a simple, quaint hotel – which had been built in a spot along an elephant migration route – and elegantly erected on the branches of a fig tree. From afar, He looked like a house on a branch of a tree. Naturally, this spatial layout blends perfectly with nature and offers some of the best close-up views of the animals that frequent this location. On the evening of February 5, the princess and her husband went to their 3 rooms elevated chalet built on wooden stilts. They then walked outside, hoping they would spot a sunset over the wildlife at the nearby waterhole.
As the African sun turned a beautiful orange on the horizon, a herd of elephants, about thirty in number, loomed majestically over the area below, swinging their supple trunks and treading the ground with noisy, regal steps. The dirt from the forest on their bodies looked pinkish, giving them a strange and beautiful look. The prince and princes frantically clicked their cameras. It was a perfect start to what was going to be an exciting evening. Too excited to sleep, the princess frequently returned to observe other animals. She saw warthogs, bushbuck and many baboons. It was at this time that his father probably breathed for the last time. But the princess was perfectly unconscious.
The next morning, she took bacon and eggs and threw banana peels at a troop of red-bottomed baboons below. Just before noon, she left, delighted with what had been an incredible wildlife encounter. When the news finally reached him, they had returned to Sagana Lodge, now a State Lodge, 38 kilometers away. When the Princess was told, the Royal Family has now announced the news to the British public and the world. The princess-turned-queen immediately began making travel arrangements for the long journey back to England. Other dignitaries who have stayed here include American actress Joan Crawford and comic actor Charlie Chaplin.
- Direction and distance from Treetops Lodge: Approximately 3 hours drive and 159 kilometers from Nairobi to the north; and 17 kilometers from Nyeri.
- Cost of a room at Treetops Lodge: Depends on room type (single or double) and month of stay, but generally ranges from $140 to $250
The treetops: a dream vacation
For all its fame, perhaps Treetops’ greatest attraction is that it sits at an elevated point between the waterholes on either side, which animals frequently visit. This includes buffaloes, elephants, waterbucks, baboons, warthogs, leopards, lions and, if you’re lucky, the now critically endangered black rhino. The animals come terrifyingly (but safely) closer as you feel their grunts and rumbles in your skin. In addition to an impressive variety of wildlife, Treetops has many colorful bird species. It is therefore better to bring your birding binoculars.
In terms of accommodation, the rooms are pretty, with a touch of old-fashioned charm. All rooms grant stunning views. One of them is reserved for people with reduced mobility. There is a spacious and comfortable living room, perfect for relaxing while enjoying the stunning forest views and the calm, fresh air. To ensure travelers don’t miss a golden opportunity, an optional buzzer inside the rooms alerts guests when a wildlife show is taking place at the watering hole. With all of that, a visit to Treetops might just be one of your most memorable ones yet.
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