Hotel Highlights

  • Remote wilderness experience, only 10km from Plettenberg Bay
  • Get back to nature staying in unique treetop lodges in the forest canopy
  • Laid-back five-star luxury; private infinity pools and amazing views

Overview

With its handsome huts-on-stilts peeking over the forest canopy, Tsala Treetop Lodge hotel on South Africa's Garden Route gives a bird’s eye view of the lush jungle. Treehouse living goes glamorous amid infinity pools, wraparound verandahs, and technological trimmings like flatscreen TVs. All of this wilderness wonder is just 10km from the shops, bars and peaceful beaches of Plettenberg Bay.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Tsala Treetop Lodge with us:

A bottle of Tsala sparkling wine and canapés in your room

Facilities

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Tsala Treetop Lodge Hotel – Garden Route – South Africa

Need To Know

Rooms

16: 10 suites and 6 two-bedroom villas.

Check–out

11am (flexible by prior arrangement, subject to availability). Check-in, from 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $356.74 (ZAR3,777), excluding tax at 14 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

Also

Treetop Villa prices are adjusted according to occupancy.

At the hotel

Gardens, library of books and DVDs, boules court, sundeck, free WiFi, valet parking. In rooms, open fires, infinity plunge pools, sundecks, flatscreen TVs, DVD/CD player, under-floor heating, exclusive Charlotte Rhys toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

The 10 suites are secluded and cosseting, with private decks looking out over the treetops and infinity plunge pools. Glass walls provide surround-scene forest views and bathrooms have deep, free-standing stone tubs, twin sinks and al fresco showers. In addition, the two-bedroom Villas have kitchenettes, dining rooms, fully stocked minibars, satellite TV, private pools and a decked outdoor dining area.

Poolside

Every suite and villa has its own private infinity pool cantilevered out from the decking over the treetops, with comfortable sunloungers to sink onto.

Packing tips

Hats and beachwear for summer; cosy shrugs for cooler evenings; walking boots for exploring the forest; binoculars for bird-watching; leopardprint loin cloth for playing Tarzan and Jane.

Also

Massages, reflexology, Shiatsu and beauty treatments are available on request.

Children

Kids aged 10 and over are welcome; children sharing parents’ rooms are charged from SAR490–SAR640, depending on season.

Eco‐friendly

The restaurant uses ingredients from Tsala's kitchen gardens, and the resort works closely with local communities and charities to ensure the future of the reserve's biodiversity. Tsala is also working towards becoming totally carbon neutral.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Tsala Treetop Lodge Hotel – Garden Route – South Africa

Hotel Restaurant

Tsala serves up modern Euro-African fusion fare, cooked using herbs and vegetables from their own gardens. Other local organic ingredients are sourced from within a 500km radius of the resort.

Hotel Bar

There’s no bar as such, but you can drink sundowners on the restaurant deck (or your own private deck), and Tsala has a fantastic wine cellar: wine-tastings can be arranged on request and the restaurant occasionally holds gourmet wine evenings in winter.

Last orders

Breakfast, 7.30–9.30am; lunch, 12–2.30pm; dinner, 7–10.30pm.

Room service

A light menu of simple in-room dishes is available 24 hours a day, but restaurant meals may also be taken in-suite by prior arrangement. Alternatively, book a gourmet picnic basket for two and take it into the forest with you…

Smith Insider

Dress code

I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Into Here! (Smart casual.)

Top table

Pull up an African-baroque leopardprint-upholstered chair at a table by the open fire, or dine by candlelight on the deck outside.

Local Guide

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Tsala Treetop Lodge Hotel – Garden Route – South Africa
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Situated between Tsala Treetop Lodge and its sister property, Hunter's Country House, Zinzi (+27 (0)44 532 8228) offers a combination of African, Asian and European cuisines, served beneath the leafy canopy. The restaurants and bars of Plett (as Plettenberg Bay is known round these parts) are only a 15-minute drive away. Try the atmospheric restaurant at Emily Moon River Lodge (+27 (0)44 533 2982) overlooking the wetlands. Popular Italian eatery Cornuti ai Mare on Perestrello Street, Plettenberg Bay (+27 (0)44 533 1277), is handy for Robberg Beach, and a great lunch spot: go for a relaxed plate of pasta, pizza, salad or steak. Get a table on the verandah if you can – sea views are a big part of the attraction. In Knysna’s Thesen Harbour Town, Lush (+27 (0)44 382 7196) is an endearingly OTT bar and restaurant with dangling lights galore, studded leather walls and a cocktail menu bursting with trendy fruit combos. Good fun and great fusion food with plenty of fresh fish.

+ Enlarge
Up in the forest canopy

Tsala Treetop Lodge

off the N2, 10kms West of Plettenberg Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape, 6600

Planes

Nearby airport options for internal flights are in George (half an hour away) and Port Elizabeth (two and a half hours away). Charter flights to the airport in Plettenberg Bay (15 minutes away) are also possible. The hotel can arrange car hire.

Automobiles

The nearest town is Plettenberg Bay, quarter of an hour away by car. There’s valet parking at the hotel.

Reviews

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Tsala Treetop Lodge Hotel – Garden Route – South Africa

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

‘Tarzan Roast’ offers Mrs Smith from the passenger seat. ‘You hang a leg of lamb from a branch in a tree,’ she explains ‘over a wheelbarrow full of burning citrus logs’. We are driving South Africa’s Garden Route; a short hop today from Knysna to the Harkerville Forest and my navigator is leafing through Jason Bonello’s ‘Cooked in Africa...

Read more

Tsala Treetop Lodge

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

‘Tarzan Roast’ offers Mrs Smith from the passenger seat. ‘You hang a leg of lamb from a branch in a tree,’ she explains ‘over a wheelbarrow full of burning citrus logs’. We are driving South Africa’s Garden Route; a short hop today from Knysna to the Harkerville Forest and my navigator is leafing through Jason Bonello’s ‘Cooked in Africa’. This dish is fairly representative of his ‘bush’ style (think Jamie Oliver meets Bear Grylls) and we agree that any recipe calling for galvanised wire (one metre) and rope (three metres) has to be tried in these Smiths’ kitchen on our return. Or, weather permitting, the Smith garden. Meanwhile, we are looking for the Tsala Treetop Lodge signpost, and wondering what we will make of a boutique hotel on stilts.

The Lord of the Jungle reference seems apt as we are guided from reception along a forest boardwalk that rises and falls before finally climbing towards a slatted gate to our suite. Treehouse doesn’t begin to describe what we discover on the other side. The panoramic view across the canopy of the indigenous forest to the valley beyond is undoubtedly the star of the show; but stone, timber and earth tones make up a strong supporting cast with copper, horn and shell providing the cameos.

Wandering from private courtyard to living room to bedroom alters the frame, but the glorious picture remains throughout an ever-changing materials palette of sawn timber weatherboards, planed and polished to become honey-grained floorboards, rough-hewn natural stone walls smoothed and shaped into a freestanding bath and wrought iron which gives way to gleaming beaten-copper. Even the water of the plunge pool morphs into a blazing fire in a pottery hearth.

Watching day ease into night from the cantilevered balcony, darkness enfolds the forest below until the only branches visible are those occasionally darting from the shadows into the light thrown into the abyss by our fire. We’ve settled in, run long hot baths and donned the regulation white towelling robes and slippers before beginning work on a thoughtfully provided aperitif. About this time we’d usually be giving in to the temptation to check emails and download something atmospheric from iTunes, but the lack of wireless or docks is in keeping with our comfortable rural seclusion. Hopeless romantics or eccentric recluses needn’t leave their suite, as meals from the three restaurants in the grounds can be delivered to the deck, but since I’m more of a hopeless eccentric, we decide to dine out.

The weekend’s gastronomic running order has been decided in earlier negotiations. Now we are venturing into the night; me brandishing torch, she cradling heels in deference to the slatted walkway. Stockinged feet aside, the walk isn’t arduous, but adds to a sense of occasion and heightens anticipation as we wind our way further along virgin boardwalk, zigzagging up a path towards the shining beacon we are fairly sure is Zinzi.

A local foodie has told us that this kitchen knows how to put together great ingredients, the menu promising African and Asian influences in a contemporary setting. Explosive little deep-fried capers dotting the Carpaccio starter certainly bore-out the recommendation, and the smoky soy source we dunk grilled squid in nodded east as promised. Mrs Smith’s crème brûlé arrives unmolested (phew), the chocolate fondant is very nearly as good as my own dear brother’s (gasp) and we even make it back through the darkness after some excellent Pinotage without falling off the decking (hooray).

Which unfortunately is a trick the cutlery is unable to imitate next morning at Mrs Smith’s birthday breakfast, as butterfingers meet butter knife, resulting in a silent freefall lasting for the count of one thousand, two thousand… Kamikaze monkeys further remind us of our elevated position, practicing extreme sports into branches of trees far below, while we discover ‘Calahari Eggs’ – the best variation on Eggs Benedict ever.

Smith anniversary breakfasts have long revolved around this dish (despite an annual accompaniment of early morning Hollandaise Sauce rage). In the past we’ve crowned our eggs with everything from Jamón Ibérico to smoked eel. But I can confidently say that smoked springbok beats everything.  Having savoured one of South Africa’s official emblems, we scoot off to visit some of its national treasures at Knysna Elephant Park, which is so close – and brilliant – that even the hopeless romantics and eccentric recluses should drag themselves out of their suite for a couple of hours. Buy plenty of fruit when you arrive, and go early. Then you a) have the elephants to yourselves and b) can spend the rest of the day doing more or less nothing. If the weather were better we’d head to the beach for a splash around, but showering en plain air prior to our last supper at Tsala is as close as we'll get.

If Zinzi majored in carefully assembled ingredients in a contemporary atmosphere, then Sage at Hunters is a lesson in taking dishes apart in an old school colonial setting. Mozambique Prawn Curry arrives as feuding prawn, rice, vegetable and sauce factions. The former in bangers and mash is a sausage-shaped duck confît beside puréed root vegetables. Banana split is delivered as deep-fried custard accompanying caramelised banana. We half expect to see the flaming wheelbarrow make an appearance as deconstructed oven. The food is delicious, and thankfully wines from the 3,000-bottle cellar all arrive in one piece.

Lying in bed that night, neither of us is looking forward to leaving, although we know one last helping of Calahari Eggs will help dull the pain. And in any case, we suspect we’ll be back sometime. Even if we have to swing from tree to tree to get here.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Tsala Treetop Lodge from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on 23 Apr 2013

We loved

The accommodation was perfect. The room is lovely. Great service! Thank you!

Don’t expect

Restaurant menu would benefit with a bit of variety, especially for the guests staying at the lodge for more than one night.

Rating: 10/10 stars