90 Years: Remembering Where it All Began

By August 19, 2016 rooms No Comments

The Queen’s 90th birthday brings with it many memories of Her Majesty’s achievements. The Treetops Lodge holds a special place in history since here, while on the African leg of her Commonwealth trip, she ascended the British Throne.

Getting to Know Treetops Lodge

The Lodge has a rich history having been built as the first game viewing lodge on stilts in Kenya. The lodge was built by Major Eric Walker and Lady Bettie Shebrooke on a Mugumo tree (sacred fig). They got inspiration to build this lodge with the desire to shoot wildlife with cameras as opposed to guns.

During its opening on 6th November 1932, the lodge only had 2 bedrooms. It has since grown to a fully equipped lodge with 36 en-suite bedrooms, a lounge, a dining room and animal hides where photographers and wildlife enthusiasts can view wild game at the water hole right next to the lodge.

A Visit by Royalty

The soon to be Queen visited the Treetops Lodge in 1952 accompanied by her husband, HRH Prince Phillip. Despite the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya then, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip went through with their plans of visiting the spectacular Treetops Lodge which was the only place of its kind in the whole world during that time.

On the fourth day after their arrival in Kenya, Princess Elizabeth watched wildlife from the Treehouse Lodge. The experience was so great that the Princess had tea served where they were watching the wildlife since she did not wish to miss any of the action at the waterhole.

During that night, as recorded by the Treetops Hunter Escort , Jim Corbett there were sightings of about 90 elephants, 8 rhinos and a few waterbuck. Princess Elizabeth was up early the following morning to view more wildlife at the waterhole since many other wild animals came to drink early in the morning.

As she descended the Treetops Lodge, news was received that her father King George V had passed on in his sleep making her HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Her presence at Treetops Lodge during that night made her the first British Monarch since the accession of William IV in 1830, to be outside the United Kingdom at the moment of succession.

Her Royal Highness Returns

After HRH Queen Elizabeth’s hurried departure from Treetops Lodge in 1952, she returned with Prince Phillip 30 years later to visit the lodge which had grown to 40 bedrooms. She could not help but notice how much the forest had ‘retreated’. This had been caused by the elephants whose migratory routes had been interrupted by the installation of electric fences to prevent contact with humans.

As she planted a tree at Treetops, she inspired Treetops and Kenya Wildlife Service to step up and ‘return the bush’ through rehabilitating 152 square-kilometre Salient Zone of the Aberdare National Park.

Leave a Reply