Unique treehouse hotel with dark past is believed to be haunted
The Galapagos Islands are beautiful and mysterious for many reasons. The wildlife and natural wonder hold intense fascination for biologists and nature lovers. But San Cristobal Island is also home to a bizarre and interesting tourist attraction that has a compelling history behind it. For $2, guests can enter the treehouse and tour the grounds of what might be the world's most unique overnight lodgings.
The view from the road shows a giant kapok tree and a small, elevated dwelling. These trees themselves are true wonders of the forest, towering over other trees and growing outwards, creating immense trunks. The trees support animal and plant life in huge numbers, often having a more diverse range of species than an entire U.S. state.
This kapok tree is well over 200 years old, having arrived with the first settlers in the early 19th century. What is now known as El Progreso, the town began with a colony in the early 19th century when a businessman from Ecuador arrived and began producing sugar, orange crops, animal oil products, and coffee for export to the mainland. He built the first road on the island and even developed a rail system to move his goods. But his workers were treated like slaves and those who did not perform to his standards were punished savagely. He lashed them to this kapok tree to whip them, or even lynch them. Locals speak of the tree being haunted and neighbors occasionally report hearing voices, yelling, crying, and the sound of rattling chains.
But in the early 1980s Cornejo Ubillus arrived from Quit, Ecuador and saw the beauty in the tree and the property around it. He bought the land and developed his vision of a fully equipped treehouse. With the help of an engineer friend, the two collected recycled materials and items washed up on shore, such as lifeboats from huge, ocean-liners. They enlisted the help of other islanders to re-purpose things like glass bottles, wood, sheet metal and plumbing supplies. The result was a fully functional hotel with two bathrooms, a working kitchen, electricity, plumbing, and bunk beds.
The treehouse has a zip line between trees, a fire escape pole from the second stories, a panoramic view of the grounds, and even a small pool where the geese bathe.
Guests wishing to invite friends can also rent a small, elevated guesthouse that is made of a lifeboat capsule that washed ashore. These occasionally show up on the island, having been discarded by or broken free of large cargo vessels.
The most incredible part of this treehouse is the expansive basement. A large cavity in the tree trunk provides access to the room below by climbing down a ladder. The dirt has been hollowed out and walls have been constructed. The floor is made up of crushed lava rock, said to promote the absorption of positive energy. The basement has lights, plumbing, and even some artwork hung on the walls.
Guests wishing to rent the tree hotel can pay $20. For additional fees, the restaurant and bar are open to lodgers, as well as other guests, wishing to simply experience the atmosphere and charm. Touring this property requires a mere $2, but guests get much more than they bargained for at this incredibly unique attraction. The imagination and effort put into this construction are impressive beyond words. Surprisingly clean, well equipped, and inviting, a stay here would be an adventure to talk about for years.