Imagine spending your night tucked into bed in a glass capsule suspended 1,200 feet up a mountainside, overlooking a sacred valley, surrounded by stars. Well, "now, you can". Topping many a bucket list thanks to Machu Picchu, and the food, and the pisco, Peru is already a must-go for many of us. But with adventure-hungry modern travellers looking beyond the humdrum luxury hotel, Peru is offering something very special: the Skylodge Adventure Suites.
Suspended from a mountain in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, Natura Vive’s Skylodge Adventure Suites are the world’s first hanging lodges. Handcrafted from aerospace aluminium and weather resistant polycarbonate, the transparent capsules, which opened in 2013, offer panoramic views across the landscape by day and nights surrounded by starlit skies. And while a head for heights is undoubtedly a prerequisite, a sense of adventure is also a must.
The suites were designed by husband-and-wife team Ario Ferri and Natalia Rodríguez, entrepreneurs who also happen to be seasoned climbers, and it’s their love of climbing that is very much part of the Skylodge experience - access to the capsules is by a two-hour via ferrata, a cabled climbing route supported by iron stepping rungs and pegs with cabled bridges and ladders, and a zip-line is the mode of transport back to the valley floor.
While this may seem onerous and frankly quite frightening, the route has actually been planned with both novices and avid adventurers in mind, and there are experienced guides on hand every step of the way.
The capsules have obviously been designed to make the most of the world outside, so inside they are functional yet comfortable. Each has a private bathroom alongside the bedroom, as well as a dining area. But despite the challenging environment, the food is quite something. Planned and prepared in advance, and cooked in a special kitchen capsule, expect an organic four-course dinner with wine in the evening, and a full breakfast menu first thing, including eggs to order.
For the eco-conscious, the Skylodge Suites offer a less impactful way to enjoy the area’s incredible views, compared to more traditional hotel stays, and solar-panelled lighting, filtered water tanks and dry ecological toilets are part of the package.
“Magical” was how Bolivian-born blogger Valeria Hinojosa described her experience at Skylodge, writing how at night she was able to see every star as if they were only three steps away. But a climbing novice, Valeria overcame her fears to tick the destination off her bucket list. “Who would’ve known that by getting out of my comfort zone, taking risks, believing in myself, I would discover the meaning of pure fearless bliss," she wrote. “The magic of trusting people, there’s honestly nothing like it!"