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Skylodge

Image Title: Skylodge Skypod. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]
Skylodge Skypod. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]

Image Title: Climbing up to the Skypods. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]
Climbing up to the Skypods. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]

Image Title: Traversing from the dining pod to the Skypod. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]
Traversing from the dining pod to the Skypod. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]

Image Title: The dining pod gally where our guide is preparing a gourmet meal. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
The dining pod gally where our guide is preparing a gourmet meal. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: A romantic room with a view . . . 1,200 ft above the valley floor. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]
A romantic room with a view . . . 1,200 ft above the valley floor. [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]

Image Title: Yes, there is a toilet in the sleeping pod. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Yes, there is a toilet in the sleeping pod. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Zip Line to the bottom! [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]
Zip Line to the bottom! [Photo: Skylodge Adventure Suites]

Skylodge Adventure Suites

 

“We’re halfway there, are you feeling ok?” asks our climbing guide and photographer, Fernando, as we ascend 1,200 vertical feet (400 m) up the via ferrata climbing route to our glass skypods on the side of the rock wall. The Skylodge, located in the Aranwa Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu in Peru, is the brainchild of an Peruvian architect who married a big wall mountain climber. Its by far the most unique lodging experience that we have every had - and we have stayed in glass igloos above the Arctic Circle and safari tents in the African savannah.

Arriving in Skylodge basecamp at the base of the wall, guests are fitted for a climbing harness and helmet and given climbing gloves. Once guests are geared up, the guides give a quick training session on via ferrata climbing techniques and how to alternate the locking carabiner tethers on the safety cables. From there, the group starts climbing the ladders and rebar steps fixed into the wall up to the three glass sleeping pods and one glass dining pod. It takes about 45 minutes to climb to the top. Anyone in reasonable physical condition with a controllable fear of heights can climb a via ferrata route. No knots and no mad climbing moves required.

Guests only have to carry their clothes and toiletries for the night along with a bottle of water for the climb. Our packs each weighed about 10 pounds. We wore hiking boots, but other guests on our trip did the climb in running shoes. Once we arrived at the top, we entered the dining pod and removed our harnesses and helmets while we sat down to enjoy the stunning view and the gourmet dinner prepared by our guides in the full kitchen 1,200 ft (400 m) above the valley floor.

After a four course dinner paired with a delightful Argentinian Malbec, we put our harnesses and helmets back on to traverse-climb to our private sleeping pod. Each pod has one king size bed and two twin bunks so they can comfortably sleep four. The pods have ALL clear walls and ceilings and floors. Although they are called glass pods, the glass is actually an aircraft plexiglass riveted to an aluminum frame and fixed to the granite wall with cables and bolts. Guests enter the pods through a trap door on the roof.

A question everyone asks is - Where do you go to the bathroom? Each pod actually has a very simple and clean toilet system. “Liquids” go into a funnel that drains into a sand filter in the ground. Men use the funnel like a urinal, women use a chamber pot in the toilet to pour liquids into the funnel. “Solids” go into a plastic bag that hangs below a normal toilet seat and are tied up and sent down a chute for the climbing staff to retrieve. A spray bottle of mild bleach is used to sanitize everything after each use. Simple, clean, effective with no mess and no odors.

Sleeping in the pods is a truly unique experience. Once inside, guests are allowed to remove their harnesses and helmets to move about freely in pod. Each pod comes with a half-bottle of wine to enjoy a romantic evening among the stars and village lights 1,200 feet (400m) below. The stars - wow! The stars will leave you speechless looking up at the Milky Way and the Southern Cross constellation. If you have some fear of heights, sleep may come a little hard staring down at the valley below through the glass floor, but if you are comfortable with heights, you may just get one of the best night’s sleep of your life.

The next morning, guests are woken up by a guide with a thermos of hot water for coffee before gearing up to traverse-climb back to the dining pod for a full breakfast. Following breakfast, guests are treated to seven criss-crossing zip-lines back down the wall to the valley floor. What a ride!

Pro-Tips

1)            DON'T over pack. Remember that you have to carry all of your own clothes and toiletries. These are climbers who aren’t offended to see you in the same outfit two days in a row.

2)            DO pay for the photography package. For US$130.00, one of the guides with professional photography experience and a professional DSLR camera will record your climb for your friends from angles that you can’t get of yourself, and they will send you the electronic images for posting to your social media.

3)            Skylodge also offers just climb up and zip-line down experiences and lunch experiences in the dining pod. Guests with partners who are not comfortabe with the via ferrata route, can opt to hike to the pods on a meandering trail that doesn’t require harness and helmet. The same trail can be used by guests to hike down if they are uncomfortable with the zip-lines.

4)            Elevation really isn’t a big concern if you do a Skylodge experience after spending a few days in the Sacred Valley or hiking the Inca Trail. The valley floor is at about 7,000 ft and you climb the via ferrata route to about 8,200 ft. Doing a Skylodge experience right from the plane if you live at sea level, may be a little bit tiring, but not particularly dangerous.

 

Phil & Diane

 

[Note: No goods or services were provided by Skylodge Adventure Suites in exchange for feature in this article.]