The holiday season truly is a time for joy! It’s the perfect occasion to gather with friends and family to celebrate, rejoice and reconnect.
While many of us love decorating our own fir trees at home, why not take it a step further and explore some truly unusual trees around the globe? From towering sequoias to dramatic camel thorn trees that have been scorched by the African sun, there are so many striking and wonderful perennials to admire across the world. Since most of us weren’t able to spend the holidays together in 2020, let’s make up for that lost time with this fun family vacation idea. Need some inspiration? Here are some experiences you and your loved ones might enjoy…
1 Marvel At The Dramatic Salt Pan Trees
This arid yet eerily beautiful landscape sits in the Namib Naukluft and was formed over 900 years ago when the Deadvlei clay pan was flooded by the nearby Tsauchab River. The water pooled, providing much-needed moisture for fledgling camel thorn trees to grow. Over time, the soil dried up and sand dunes slowly formed, ultimately blocking the area from ever being flooded again.
Deadvlei became too dry for plant life to survive. Instead of the camel thorn trees decaying and decomposing though, they were scorched by the sun and became eternal monuments to the region’s harsh climate.
Visit at sunrise or sunset to admire the dramatic contrast between the red of the sand dunes and the dark shapes of the ancient trees. For easy access, book a stay at the luxury Sossusvlei Lodge, located near this intriguing skeletal forest.
2Walk In A Forest Filled With Giant Sequoias
The region in the USA is famed for its lofty rock formations – including the sheer cliff face of El Capitan – and extraordinary plant life. If you’re entering the park from the south entrance, it’s hard to miss the imposing sight that is the Mariposa Grove.
Made up of over 500 mature sequoia trees, this grove is a sight to behold. Experts estimate that the oldest specimens may even be over 3,000 years old. Walking among these majestic trees is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an opportunity to feel at one with nature.
During your stroll through the Mariposa Grove, keep an eye out for some of its most well-known trees. This includes the Bachelor and Three Graces (a collection of sequoias that make for the perfect backdrop for a family photo) and the Grizzly Giant, one of the oldest trees in the park. You might also come across the Fallen Monarch. This toppled tree was made famous in 1899 when it was photographed with several US cavalry officers riding atop its trunk.
3Spot The Lone Willow Tree
Sprouting resiliently up through the waters of Lake Wanaka, this tree is one of the most famous landmarks in New Zealand’s South Island. You’ll find it about 186 miles (300 kilometers) from Dunedin and only a short distance north of Queenstown.
The story of the Wanaka Tree is truly magical. Over 80 years ago, a fence was erected along the shores of the lake and it featured a post made from a thick branch of a willow tree. Instead of staying as it was and acting as a support, the branch took root in the fertile soil and flourished.
Fast forward to 2014 when a photographer from Christchurch captured the tree emerging from the morning mist with the craggy Southern Alps in the background. The photo went on to win the New Zealand Geographic photo of the year award, and the tree shot to fame.
South Island is a great pick for a family vacation. Tick off various iconic landmarks, from the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park to culture-packed Christchurch, before checking into the plush St Moritz Hotel on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It’s the perfect base for a trip to #thatwanakatree and is only only an hour away by road.
4Learn About The Ancient Frankincense Trade
Oman’s ancient history and breathtaking landscapes make it a brilliant vacation option for families with older kids. Among its many attractions is the Wadi Dawkah natural park that sits around 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Salalah.
A chunk of the park is occupied by the Land of Frankincense, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll discover that the vast desert valley is studded with over 5,000 of these trees, some of which are truly ancient. The magnificent forest also forms part of the larger Frankincense Trail, a trade route that’s been used for thousands of years by merchants buying and selling incense.
In addition to gazing at the trees from the Wadi Dawkah viewing platform, visit other ancient ruins in the vicinity such as the port of Khor Rori to learn more about the trade and production of frankincense. April is a prime time to go if you want to see how these frankincense trees are tapped for their fragrant and very valuable resin.
5Visit The World’s Widest Tree
If you want to gaze at a record-breaking tree while enjoying some diverse culture and cuisine, plan a vacation to Mexico.
Arbol del Tule (tule tree) is tucked away inside a peaceful churchyard in the town of Santa Maria del Tule. What’s so special about this tree, you might ask? It holds the title of the world’s widest tree! While it measures an impressive 38 feet in diameter, the tree is reasonably short for its girth, at just 116 feet.
Arbol del Tule is thought to be over 1,500 years old and its gnarled appearance testifies to this fact. Take your time admiring its twisted trunk and see if you – like many visitors before – can spot likenesses of both humans and animals in its knots.
The town of Santa Maria del Tule is accessible by road from stunning Oaxaca, making it a great stop to add to your itinerary on a tour of Southern Mexico.
Get in touch with our experts to plan your family vacation and let us know which tree you’d like to gather around next!