Tired of the standard hotel room, tent or trailer for your holiday accommodation? Germans, ever intrepid tourists, have discovered a new twist on the theme -- tree houses for grown-ups.
Not your average three-star hotel
The five cabins are each perched on branches and reinforced with giant stilts, offering a bird's eye view of the lush forest in Zentendorf, Saxony, on the Polish frontier. Each has two or three floors connected by ladders and is capable of housing up to four people. The lodgings are a child's dream come true.
"Our tree houses are built like kids would have made them if we had let them," said manager Jürgen Bergmann, stroking his grey goatee.
The tree houses are built without right-angles to create a more organic feel and interlinked with wooden footbridges. Bergmann assures the gravity-defying constructions are fully compliant with Germany's strict safety regulations.
Equipped with chemical toilets and shared shower cabins, the tree houses allow a wash at an elevation of 10 meters (about 30 feet), with a spectacular view of the deep woods and the Neisse River.
The first guests arrived last month and Bergmann has received more than 150 bookings so far. But the walk up is not the only thing that is steep, with prices for the smallest of the houses starting at 160 euros ($191) including breakfast.
Buffalo Bill in the trees
Bergmann, who bears a resemblance to Buffalo Bill and likes to go by the name King Bergamo, brushed aside remarks that the lodgings are rather rustic for the three-star prices.
"We offer more than lodgings, we offer an experience," he said.
Other innovations offered at the complex, a three-hour drive south from Berlin, include a night in an Indian teepee and a stay in an underground dwelling set in an artificial cave. At its door, a giant "cannibal cauldron" -- a mammoth cast-iron pot over a bonfire -- awaits guests eager for a bath.
King Bergamo does not see his competition among traditional hotels and is quick to point to the problems of a holiday in the treetops.
"Everything is cramped, it's not comfortable," he said. "After the third night you start to only see the downsides," which is when he says it is time to go back to civilization. "It would be a shame to leave with a bad impression."
In the years following German reunification the site was a prototype playground used as a showroom for Bergmann's carpentry business. Today the park and the company employ some 50 people, in a depressed corner of eastern Germany where one in four is out of a job.
Bergmann cannot yet survive on the income from his adventure park alone but makes a living from fantasy constructions with orders pouring in from across Europe. Elaborate playgrounds for Malaga in Spain and the Belgian town of Lilse Bergen, Robin Hood huts for England's Sherwood Forest in Nottingham and a tropical house for the Vienna's Schönbrunn Park are all in the works.