My love of trees is no secret. So when I found out I was going to stay at Tubu Tree Camp, I knew I was in for a treat. I mean, the word tree is right there in the title. That’s practically a guarantee of good things to come. Upon my arrival, I was not disappointed. The whole camp is elevated, weaving between the trees and incorporating their stately presence into its design.
The main lounge area sits in a grove of large marula trees. High in the canopy, their branches weave together to create a shady haven for the tents beneath. By far the best part was the tree bar. This magical little bar sits on a platform between the lounge and the open flood plains beyond. A thick trunk curves up out of the deck, arching away from the bar and diverging into a thousand intertwining branches overhead.
The bar itself is constructed from pieces of wood, still organically shaped, but polished smooth. A neat row of bottles stood along the back wall, their labels boasting more cultural diversity than most top universities. Stacks of wine glasses and tumblers sparkled in the sunlight that filtered between the leaves.
I pushed myself up onto one of the barstools and smiled at the bartender.
“What’s your favorite drink?” I asked him.
“Hmm…I think I prefer just a nice cold beer on a day like this,” he said after looking out at the rising heat waves distorting the landscape below.
“Ohh, I like the way you think, I’ll have one of those,” I replied.
“Coming right up!” he said, turning toward the ancient freezer chest behind him.
The psshht of fizzy pressure releasing from a beer bottle is a universally loved sound. It elicits laughter with friends, beachside campfires, mountaintop ski breaks – happiness in liquid form. I traced my fingers over the carefully preserved knots, admiring the craftsmanship and wondering how hard it would be to make my own tree bar at home. Anyone have a spare tree or two lying around? Or perhaps some expert craftsmanship skills?
The bartender handed me a cold Windhoek beer, already sweating beads of condensation from the intense afternoon heat. I debated wandering down to the pool deck below, but the heat won out. Instead I pressed the bottle against my neck, reveling in the feeling of cold glass on hot skin.
Elephants frequently stop by to drink from Tubu Tree’s plunge pool. The water is lightly chlorinated, but not enough to hurt a creature as big as an ely. Most guides I’ve asked said they actually think the elephants prefer the chlorinated water. Some camps have waterholes out front that they fill with water pumped from a nearby river, but apparently the elephants will skip the waterhole in favor of the pool. When the fruits of the marula tree ripen, some elys will spend all day in camp, feeding on the sweet fruits and drinking from the pool. I guess that’s their own elephantine version of a tree bar. Glad to know I’m not the only one who loves them.
All photos by Kelsea Lee