by Eric Barnes
One of my greatest pleasures is putting together an itinerary for an upcoming trip. When planning it out, I seek out the 'out of the ordinary' stops, activities or hotels. Well, nothing had or has come close to the Natura Vida Skylodge in the Sacred Valley in beautiful Peru. I was taking my nephew on a surfing trip to Panama and wanted to include a stop-over at Machu Picchu... and this became part of the trip.
Knowing we had limited time to fly to Lima, get to Cusco and Machu Picchu and back, I wanted something crazy and spectacular to impress my nephew Caeden. After all, he was an active 18-year-old, who I knew I would need to hold his attention with something awesome. In researching the route from Cusco to Machu Picchu, I stumbled across a Via Ferrata and zip line in the Sacred Valley. Having climbed the Via Ferrata at Mt Nimbus in Canada, I knew it was a great way to go mountain climbing by actually being mountain climbers... and zip lining, well that's just cool. When I pulled up their website, I saw these three alien looking modules hanging from the side of a cliff and at further glance realized these were sleeping modules. You actually sleep dangling off a cliff at 1000ft. above the ground. BOOKED!
When we arrived at the base of the cliff, I told Caeden to look up. 'That's where we're sleeping tonight!' Until then I had kept it a surprise from him. 'No way! That's crazy. How do we get there?' After a short pause I replied: 'We climb!'.
Natura Vida had created a Via Ferrata or metal rungs that are pounded into the mountain and a guide line that you clip into for safety. The two-hour climb was amazing, but our first step into the sleeping pods was breathtaking. When we finally released our safety clip from the guide line and realize we are now in a massive module dangling 10 stories off the ground we both looked at each other in horror and amazement and kept saying to each other 'This is crazy, this is crazy.'
The pods are quite roomy with four beds and a bathroom. Yes, there is a bathroom that, if your brave enough and leave the privacy curtains open, you have the best view you've ever had on a toilet. Guaranteed. The plexiglass walls give you the feeling that you're floating with spectacular views of the stars, the valley and the two other pods. The guide has his own pod that is used as a social hall and dining area. We had dinner in it and breakfast on top of it. When it was time to leave this experience, we were taken down the mountain by a series of zip lines. Caution, don't kick the rocks while you do this, you just might break your leg, as I did.
Once we were off the mountain and on solid ground, Caeden and I kept talking about how nuts the night was and how no one we know had ever experienced anything like that. Then it was off to Machu Picchu, broken foot and all.
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