Perhaps Kenya's most famous lodge, Treetops (which began in 1929 as a two-room house in a fig tree) was burned to the ground by Mau Mau guerillas in the mid-1950s. Its replacement is now one of two "tree hotels" within the Aberdare National Park. A large hotel (there are 50 guestrooms) -- with tiny bedrooms and shared bathrooms -- it has never been as intimate as the original, and its proximity to the perimeter of the park means that you don't get the same sense of being deep in the forest experienced at its similarly conceived competitor, a slightly more elegant hotel on stilts called The Ark (reviewed below). Still, if you prefer nostalgia over comfort, you can investigate Treetops at www.aberdaresafarihotels.com. There are four viewing decks, as well as a rooftop platform from which to watch the animals at the water hole, and special hides on the ground level make close-up photography possible. If you do end up staying here, it's worth paying a little extra for one of the two suites ($294-$473 double); standard doubles cost $248 to $383, depending on the season. Guests staying at Treetops assemble at Outspan, a hotel just outside the park, and are then shuttled to the lodge in the afternoon.
For something of a wilderness experience outside the national park, there's good value to be had at Sangare Ranch Tented Camp (tel. 020/272-2451 through -2457, or 728/607-597; www.sangaretentedcamp.com), where you bed down in large canvas tents on the edge of a lake on a 2,626-hectare (6,500-acre) private wildlife conservancy. It's located adjacent the Solio Game Reserve, and the surrounding terrain is home to elephants, buffalos, and leopards, among others. Set on concrete plinths, the 12 camo-tents have attached, plumbed-in bathrooms (with hot water 24/7) and shaded verandas facing the water; the doubles feature king-size four-poster beds made in a rustic, comfortable style that's in keeping with the African bush setting. Instead of any overblown, over-the-top luxury, the emphasis is on down-to-earth comfort. Prices are incredibly fair -- $395 is the rate for a double, including all meals and a daily conservation fee.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.