SKY LODGE & MACHU PICCHU, PERU
CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, PERU
OK! I know some of you have been waiting for this travel story since the day you laid eyes on the first photo I posted. Yes, it was wild! One of the most insane trips and adventures I’ve embarked on for the blog. This eco-friendly hotel is so mind-blowing, Red Bull named it as one of their “Top 10 Craziest Destinations”. The best part? I had no clue! No freaking clue! I saw a photo of the hotel on Instagram a year ago and added it to my mental bucketlist. Fast forward a few months, and a trip to Peru- to see my childhood friend get married- knocked on my door. The minute I heard “Peru”, the Sky Lodge came to my mind but I had just returned from a month-long trip to Bali, therefore, traveling for more than 3 days for the wedding was not in my plans. I silenced my mind by telling myself I would do it on another opportunity.
In short, I flew to Lima to surprise my childhood friend for his wedding and booked my flight ticket to Peru for 3 days only. And then, of course, on the day I had to fly back to Miami, I realized I simply couldn’t fly back without visiting Machu Picchu and this eco-hotel. I simply couldn’t. I was already there! I mean… I had already flown 6 hours from Miami to Lima! So I called the airline to reschedule my ticket and added 3 extra days to my trip. What was next? I had no clue. Again! I had no plans, no hotels, no train tickets…nothing! Just a heart exploding of fearless wanderlust! After changing my Miami ticket, I sat down in front of my computer and started researching blogs mentioning Cusco, Machu Picchu and the SkyLodge. A few hours later, I felt I was well informed and ready! I purchased my flight ticket to Cusco the night before traveling, took the risk, borrowed a backpack from my friend, threw in a sweater, two jeans, and snacks, and embarked on another unplanned solo adventure. I arrived in Cusco with no hotel or plan whatsoever and immediately learned I had to take a train to Machu Picchu, so I bought the train ticket at the Cusco airport. All trains were sold out except one at 5am the next morning. I bought that one and then got on a taxi. I asked the driver the areas (quiet and boho) he recommended. He said San Blas, so I asked him to take me there, immediately started looking for San Blas hotels on my phone and booked one while on the taxi. (Thank God for Expedia!!) The hotel I chose was perfect! Quinta San Blas by Ananay Hotels. Small, boho, warm, and in the middle of famous San Blas where I would be spent the entire afternoon discovering holistic spots and vegan restaurants. (My favorite: Qiwa Healthy Food)
That same afternoon I contacted Natura Vive to book their Sky Lodge "glass bubbles" and climbing experience for one night. The agent laughed and said people normally booked with 2 months in advance. I asked her to please check and then I heard "Omg. We have one bubble left. This is a first!". I immediately looked at the sky and smiled.
I went to sleep at 9pm exhausted and woke up at 2am to take a taxi to the Ollantaytambo train station. It was a 2.5hr drive and my train to Machu Picchu departed at 5am. Now, here starts the part where my life seems like a scene taken out of a movie! Once in Machu Picchu, I took the 7am bus all the way up to the ruins only to find out that the entrance tickets were sold at the train station and with VISA or cash only. That was a 40-minute roundtrip to get a ticket! And I only had a MC with me! So I begged and smiled until "the boss" came outside and agreed to make an exception. He asked me for a VISA and I immediately panicked, but then he said I could pay cash and that it was 65 Soles. Guess how much cash I had on me? 65 Soles EXACTLY! I walked and hiked Machu Picchu for 4 hours, meditated, took a nap and was awakened by a fly that crashed into my forehead 30minutes before my train departed to Ollantaytambo. Enough time for me to take the 20minute bus down to the station, get something to eat and hop in. During my train ride I met an incredibly nice Spanish guy with whom I had a 2-hour long conversation about solo-traveling since he had been traveling by himself too! The ride was hilarious! We got interrupted a few times by a guy wearing a “Diablo” costume and dancing around the train! Where else do you get to see that?! Once we reached our destination, my new friend offered to share a taxi to the restaurant Natura Vive’s driver would pick me up from. I accepted, we hugged, exchanged numbers and said goodbye.
It was about a 20 minute drive from “La Esquina” Restaurant to the mountain where Sky Lodge had been built. The minute I got there, I was surprised by climbers wearing Under Armour jackets, hiking boots, fancy backpacks and gopro cameras wrapped around their heads. And then, there was me! 29-year old never-been-rockclimbing girl who, according to my tour guide, was dressed as if she were going shopping!! Can you believe that? I was wearing Converse and a abuelita-looking sweater. I obviously had no clue what I was getting myself into! We climbed for about 2hrs! TWO HOURS of me trusting my life to a tight harness wrapped around my legs and waist, screwlocks, pulleys and two ropes! There was one moment where I looked down and immediately felt fear taking over my mind and then slowly over my body. I froze. My hands were stiff and I couldn’t move. My breath intensified as I laid my forehead on top of the huge rock I was holding on to. The only words I managed to stutter repeatedly to myself were “Please don’t do this to me. You are strong. Fierce. This is nothing.” After the third powerful inhale, I felt the blood rush back to my hands. My heart rate slowed down and I could finally move again. (Mind over matter, guys. Always! Good or bad, we have the power to change any situation we face). I finished climbing that mountain like a pro! The girl with the Converse (me!) was actually the first one who made it to the hotel. In one piece! I jumped in joy the minute I reached the mother ship (That’s the kitchen, if you’re wondering). There are four capsules at the Sky Lodge. Three of them are private rooms that can host up to 4 people. The fourth one is the kitchen/ restaurant. Here’s the trick though. You have to climb from the kitchen to your room. Every single time! I got the corner capsule with the best view…and the longer distance…but it was worth it! After the delicious vegan Quinoa Risotto and veggie burger the guides prepared for me (yes, they are Chefs too!), I climbed to my bubble and got ready to call it a night. The bathroom situation was an alien experience by itself! We all got our private bathrooms with a toilet, a sink and a filtered water tank, but here’s where it gets funny. You can sit on the toilet like a normal person but after you pee, you have to grab the potty pot under the toilet ring and pour your pee in a tube in front of you. And for #2, you get a plastic bag to wrap around the toilette ring. Once you’re done, that bag goes in and through another tube. It doesn’t get more raw and eco than that! Seriously! There was no shower in the capsule (for obvious reasons) so I grabbed the hand-towel and water from my tank and cleaned off every drop of sweat and dirt on my body. I washed my teeth while contemplating the sky, walked 6 steps towards my bed, opened the curtains in the capsule, and tucked myself in bed. It was really cold that night but the bedcovers the hotel provided were more than enough to keep me warm. The sky was a bit cloudy and it was impossible for me to see the stars. I tried my best to keep my eyes open in search of them but I fell asleep in a matter of seconds! I fell heavily asleep until I was woken up by what felt like rocks falling on top of my capsule. The entire “bubble” was shaking and all I could hear were canyons being shot at my home away from home!! I jumped out of my bed, ran to the door, begun putting my jeans on and then, suddenly, I realized what I was experience was nothing more and nothing less than rain drops crashing against my capsule at full speed! What?! I laughed so hard tears ran down my checks! To my luck, the sky had cleared up and I could finally see every star as if they were only three steps away from me. It was magical!
The next morning we had a 7am breakfast (fruits, fresh coffee and bread) and got ready to zip-line our way back down. For an adrenaline-lover like me, this was like Disneyland! I zip-lined on seven different lines for about 60 minutes all the way down to the car that was waiting to take me to the airport so I could catch my flight back to Miami. Literally! We landed four steps away from the car.
Who would’ve known that by getting out of my comfort zone, taking risks, believing in myself, and embarking on a completely unplanned trip, I would discover the meaning of PURE FEARLESS BLISS?! The magic of trusting and flowing, people! There’s honestly nothing like it!
Things to know about Sky Lodge:
-It runs on solar energy
-Yes, there’s lamps in your capsule (solar lamps so no plug-ins for chargers. Take your portable charger with you!)
-They have vegan and vegetarian options
-They provide filtered water tanks
-They provide snacks for the 2-hour climb (I got a tangerine and nuts! <3 )
-If the guides/instructors see that you can’t climb or have a panic attack, they’ll take you through another route. Hiking path! (At least try to rock-climb tough. The experience is worth it!)
-TAKE YOUR GOPROs AND CAMERAs.
-They have a professional photographer for $60.
-Pack LIGHT! You don't need more than 1 pair of jeans, sneakers, sweater, underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste. Whatever you take, you'll be carrying in your bag all the way up for 2 hours!
-The night + climb + zipline + dinner + breakfast = $320-$400 (depends on season) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the WaterThruSkin experience.
To know about Cusco/Machu Picchu:
-Flights from Lima to Cusco cost about $150 (I bought it the night before traveling)
-Trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu cost about $120 roundtrip (one of them ended up being first class!)
-Hotels in San Blas (Cusco area) are as cheap as $15/night all the way up to the $100s. The one I stayed at, Quinta San Blas by Ananay Hotels, (beautiful!!) was $66.
-If you eat at Qiwa order the vegan quinotto soup!! SO GOOD!