The name ‘Tuludi’ is a Tswana word that describes the colours or markings of the leopard. It is in fact a ‘royal’ color or marking that is held in very high regard in Botswana. (You’ll see why this is worth remembering in a few paragraphs from now.)
Once you’ve scrolled slowly through our photos of Tuludi, I’m sure you’ll agree that Natural Selection got it perfectly right! And this is how they got this dreamy treehouse-styled camp to reflect the Khwai’s vast, remote sense of space and unfettered freedom. (Replicate it at home — or book your stay!)
“We wanted Tuludi to reflect the space and freedom of its surroundings.”
1. LOCATION (and a little bit of history!)It was incredibly fascinating to see Tuludi in all her fully open and operational glory after having visited the camp while it was still a building site in September last year: a motley collection of building manager’s tents and piles of building supplies — in the middle of absolutely nowhere. (The builder did have a few stories to tell of lions roaring in the night and curious elephants close to camp during the build-up months!)
THEN & NOW
LOCATIONThe exclusive 200,000 hectare Khwai Private Reserve on the fringes of the Okavango Delta.
“On the day our partners in Khwai set out to find a spot to build Tuludi, they found themselves camping in a grove of enormous leadwood trees. With their low-hanging boughs and shady leaves the trees are first choice for leopards and lo and behold, a beautiful female walked straight past the team after only a few minutes. Later, as the sun began to drop, the rays created a stunning, dappled ‘tuludi’ pattern on the ground all around them – and it was at that moment that they knew this was the spot for Tuludi.”
PICTURE-PERFECT POSITIONINGWhilst the umbrella of leadwoods make for a deliciously romantic tree-house atmosphere, it is Tuludi’s views which WOW! Wherever you find yourself – cooling off in the pool at midday, in your bathroom brushing your teeth at dawn or ensconced, G&T in hand, in the swing chair on the main deck at sunset, you’ll be dazzled by the Delta views! For those who can’t bring themselves to siesta the heat of the afternoon away, you’ll be able to watch zebras, giraffes, buffalos, and elephants who venture out in the midday heat.
2. The Concept: Storybook Tree-houses!I remember our childhood tree-house with wonder-infused delight, and how it inspired a love for nature, cocooned as it was in a wild profusion of indigenous plants, birdsong and the dappled-shade coolness of towering trees. So when we arrived at Tuludi, the sight of their perfectly perched tents elevated above the floodplain amongst the leadwood trees whisked me straight back into that wide open space of liberating awe!
Interior designThe seven, tree-house tents magically bring the outside in, with botanical-inspired interiors reflecting the gentle natural color palette of the flora against a backdrop of serene bone-white, embroidered with subtle nods to the historical nostalgia of the safari: a Persian rug here, hanging lanterns there, antique maps, romantic mosquito nets.
HE(ART)FELT DECORTraditional African basketry and weaving are emboldened by modern geometric prints, with Ardmore’s playful textiles in cheeky hues delightfully detailing the Delta’s flora and fauna. We also loved the specially created art by artist Sarah Kelly! As gorgeous and hugely spacious as the tents are, what Tuludi has managed to do with their outside spaces is incredibly creative! They designed very special spaces to be outside: from the privacy of your deck’s plunge pool, the cozy, conversational circle around the fire-pit, soaking up the glorious golden hour in the swing-chair on the deck… (This intentional inventiveness they invested into how their outside spaces could invite rest, repose and intimacy makes Tuludi a divine space to turn your safari into a proper vacation.)
Architectural designWhat really amazed me about being inside my tent or Tuludi’s main area spaces (like the magnificent mosaic bar!) was how I never felt as though I was blocked off or removed from nature. I think it was the exceptionally clever combination of plenteous wood (in the construction itself, as well as the wooden furniture) and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing the gentle tuludi light to fill the interiors – and, of course, totally eliminating that claustrophobic sensation of peeking out at the world through a cramped little window. Even the bathroom view was breathtaking!
Other genius architectural nods to the nostalgic whimsy of childhood tree-houses are:
- Winding wooden boardwalks that weave wondrously between the trees, the tented suites and main area
- Swing-chairs hanging from the boughs, reminding me of weaver’s nests swinging from the same branches in the gentle afternoon breezes
- The tree-house library (which I snuck away to on more than one occasion) simply to revel in that childlike emotion of hiding away from what you ‘should’ be doing and indulgently disappearing between the covers of your adventure du jour. I can’t even begin to describe how sweet the ‘silence’ was, sparkling with the songs of birds I’ve never heard before, and the whispering of the leadwood leaves.
But what really made me feel an exhilarated 10 years old again was discovering how they’d playfully made leaving the tree-house a magical thing: a thrilling twirly-whirly slide — a la ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’!