In Search of the Ultimate Tree House

by Cynthia Ord

When I was a kid, my dad built an awesome tree house in our backyard.  Propped up on a tree and three stilts, the little fort featured a deck, a pulley, and a sandbox in its shade.  It made a great neighborhood clubhouse and hideout.  I thought it was the ultimate tree house. Then I came to Guatemala and learned that tree houses aren’t just for kids and the Swiss family Robinson.  They’re for eco-tourists too.  Different eco-lodges in Guatemala offer unforgettable tree house accommodations.

Runner-up for the best tree house award goes to casa Arbol, one of several tree houses in the campground of the eco-lodge Finca Ixobel, located just outside of Poptun in Peten.  Unlike the others that are basically stilted houses, Arbol is supported by a sprawling catalpa tree.  Its branches conceal the fort almost completely; only the 21-step ladder directs the eye upward.  For 55Q a night, Arbol was mine. I climbed up and found a pensive little desk and chair on the deck. Once inside, I latched open all three of the windows, stretched

out on the full-sized full mattress, and listened to the tree’s other occupants sing their twilight song.  I lit the candles I found inside, irreversibly charmed.

A visit to Earth Lodge just outside Antigua proved to be the award-winning tree house experience. Earth Lodge is a place with a view, and the tree house is no exception. A great glass window faces southwest, framing the volcanic landscape and a cascading tree branch outside. For 70Q a night (120Q for couples), I was sold. On the fort’s deck hangs a big hammock, and inside a switch offers electric light, but I preferred the moonlight. I woke up to a spectacular view of volcanoes Agua and Pacaya reaching into the pink sunrise sky.

My next mission: learn how to build my own ultimate tree house, combining the best of what I’ve seen so far: a pulley, a desk, candles, a hammock, and a view. Then I could add some granola for sale and internet to attract the eco-tourists.

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