I’ve always loved trees. They’re reassuring in their duration, beautiful in their asymmetry, calming with their gently swishing leaves. Many of my childhood afternoons were spent sitting in my favorite madrone tree, reading a book or sketching the birds of my backyard. The daughter of a master craftsman, my father built the most wonderful treehouse for me and my sister. This was no mere platform in the sky, it was a miniature home, complete with a light and heater for late night reading, and a door painted in a vibrant shade of purple that five-year-old me got to choose. I moved away from that cozy childhood retreat long ago, but my love of treehouses has never faded.
I found my grown-up treetop oasis in the heart of the Okavango Delta, where elephants wander by and vervet monkeys perch on your veranda. It’s a magical little camp called Kwetsani and it would make Robinson Crusoe truly proud. Luxurious treetop suites perch among the marula and acacia trees, their thick branches creating cocoons of privacy for each guest. Overlooking the sweeping views of delta below, I felt like the only person in the world. That feeling of utter seclusion is the true luxury of Africa. You can completely step away from the rest of the world and synchronize your heart and mind to the rhythm of the bush. Every morning in the wilderness you wake up a little closer to your true self.
The magic of the Kwetsani experience started as I first arrived at camp. Elevated walkways transported me to another world, welcoming me into the arboreal delights that awaited throughout my stay. The central lounge and dining area featured bold, geometric interpretations of the ubiquitous safari chic aesthetic found at most camps these days. Clusters of deck chairs dotted the expansive veranda, complete with a top-of-the-line telescope so guests could get close-up views of the abundant wildlife that frequent the plains below. Towering sausage trees frame the vista, their namesake fruits dangling like ornaments from their immense branches.
Meandering down to my private treetop suite was a treat in and of itself. Even though I was nearly fifteen feet off the ground, the canopy stretched far above my head, where the trills and warbles of unseen birds echoed down to my ears. As I approached, glimpses of the suite start peeking through the foliage until there it is: my very own treetop retreat.
Each suite has a wraparound veranda where I could read a book and sip an iced Amarula while watching the spectacular wildlife displays unfolding on the floodplains below. While in camp I was treated to a huge herd of elephants lumbering past, an elegant train of giraffes, countless impala, and a parade of arboreal creatures stopping by to say hi. By day the branches were busy with vervet monkeys, hornbills, tree squirrels, and even a beautiful spotted bush snake once. By night I could hear the scurrying paws of genets and lesser galagoes, the soft hoots of pearl spotted owls, and the auditory bedlam of about a million insects. It was wonderful.
Inside, the Kwetsani suites have been designed to seamlessly blend into the stunning natural setting outside. Folding doors push open to bring the panoramic views and warm sunshine right in to you. Folds of soft, natural fabrics, gently polished wood, and organically modern touches created a haven where it was impossible not to indulge in total relaxation. Bright and airy, the design team did a beautiful job appointing the suites. Every time I stepped inside, I fell in love with the design all over again.
But by far my favorite features were the outdoor shower and bath. I have such a love for outdoor showers, and nowhere does them quite like Africa. Showering in the fresh air with the susurrations of the bush all around you is an absolutely incredible experience. After a hot game drive, there’s nothing more refreshing than letting the cool water rinse away your newly acquired layer of dust while gazing out over the Okavango Delta. If you’ve never had the privilege of enjoying an outdoor shower, I highly recommend you find a way to do so as soon as possible. You’ll thank me later!
All photos by Kelsea Lee