The original Tree Tops Hotel pictured here was burned down by Mau Mau terrorists 27 May 1954.  It has since been rebuilt.

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PERCHED 60 feet above the ground in the fork of a giant fig tree that overlooks a pool and a salt lick near Nyeri, Africa, is one of the most unique “hotels” in the world. Guests remain only one night and chances are that few of them will sleep for they usually stay awake to watch from their observation platform the wild animals—elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, leopards, giant hogs, monkeys, etc., that come daily to lick the salt and quench their thirst in the pool.

The proprietor of the four-room tree-top bungalow, Sherbrooke Walker, who also owns the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, discovered that many of his guests wanted to see “wild animals” and so he decided to build a lookout in a tree from which the beasts could be safely observed. Completed in 1935, it has been a great success despite the hefty $40-per-night fee.

Walker takes guests to spend the night in Jungle-Top only during the four days before and after the full moon. He guarantees that they will see elephants and rhino or their money will be refunded.

Escorted by Walker and a few native bearers, a party usually leaves the Outspan after noon for the trip to Jungle-Top. They drive 10 miles to the edge of the forest and then walk some 30 minutes through the thick brush to the hotel. Every 50 yards along this path Walker has installed ladders against the trees in case the party should meet a rhino. Frequently a rhino will charge though unprovoked and the ladders provide refuge from the beast.

Many jungle dramas, including fights to the death, unfold before the eavesdropping guests. •

  1. Toronto says: March 15, 20126:11 pm

    I believe this is “Treetops”, famous throughout the Commonwealth as the place Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, upon learning her father, George VI, passed away.

    (Pratchett maintains Royalty is the fastest thing in the universe, since when one monarch dies, another is created instantly, no matter what distance separates the events.)

  2. Hirudinea says: March 16, 201211:03 am

    @ Toronto – Really, I didn’t know that, I knew she was in Kenya at the time but not in this hotel (or one like it.)

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