If you’ve ever wanted to sleep suspended high up from a cliff in a transparent pod, look no further. Tucked away in the Sacred Valley of Peru and just a couple hours drive away from Cusco, this one-of-a-kind experience will take you cliffside above the Urubamba River.
Chances are you’ve seen this unique hotel somewhere on Facebook, Instagram or Buzzfeed if you enjoy perusing unique travel experiences. I can’t remember the exact platform on which I first saw this hotel, but just a quick video of the world’s first-ever “hanging lodge,” and I was immediately sold. My husband and I decided if we were ever going to Peru, we simply HAD to do this.
So let’s be honest—the experience is not cheap. We paid something like $445 USD per person, plus $85 USD for the photo package. But let’s break down what it includes:
- Pickup in Cusco
- Transportation to Urubamba’s Sacred Valley
- A quick Via Ferrata lesson
- Gear/equipment to climb 400 meters up the mountain
- A delicious multi-course dinner, complete with wine
- Overnight stay
- Breakfast with coffee
- Ziplining down the mountain
- Transportation to wherever you’re going next (most people get driven back to Cusco, but we asked to be transported to the Ollantaytambo train station as we were continuing on to Machu Picchu)
And as far as the photo package is concerned, it’s 100% worth the splurge. Our photographer, Diego, would speedily climb past us and hang off of cliffs to get the photos of us. It’s worth capturing the memories for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and also a lot safer than (and not nearly as stressful as) trying to take photographs yourself!
There are only three pods (each can hold 2-4 people), so reservations naturally run out quickly for this experience. We booked our sky pod six months in advance of our Peru trip, and already we snagged the last available slots! Each pod has beds, solar-powered lights, a bathroom (with a “dry toilet” system) and a 300 degree view of the valley below.
We got picked up in Cusco’s San Blas district around 2:00pm, and transported to the Sacred Valley. After a quick review of how to do Via Ferrata and getting fitted into our harnesses, we were on our way, climbing up the mountain. Random buses filled with tourists would occasionally stop below us to watch us climb, shouting at us and cheering us on.
At the 300 meter point (almost 1,000 feet!), we hit a suspension “bridge” of tightrope wires. We were told to walk across—and to push AWAY from the wall (toward nothingness) as we crossed the rope. Okay, no big deal. I reached up for the wires and made a comment about possibly being too short. One of our guides then proceeded to tell us that a 6-year-old did this, so we were fine. Alrighty then.
In total, we climbed up 400 meters (1,300+ feet). But the pods that we slept in were a slight decline from the highest point we reached, which meant we slept at 300 meters up. That’s still the equivalent of climbing a 90-story building, though!
We hung up our helmets and gloves, and ate a dinner in the main communal pod that our guides prepared on a stovetop hanging off the rocks in the cliff. A truly unique thing to witness!
The food was prepared from frozen ingredients they carried in their backpacks, and we ate a squash soup, salad, a quinoa/chicken dish and dessert. They even were able to accommodate my allergy restrictions, and had a separate gluten-free banana bread that I could eat for dessert when they gave everyone else brownies! They also gave each couple (there were six of us total) a bottle of wine.
We conversed over our meal as it started to rain. After dinner, we were told we’d need to climb further to get to our rooms, and my husband and I were specifically told ours was the furthest and most difficult to get to. “Be careful, because it’s also dark and very slippery when it rains,” they said. My mind was racing, wondering why I had JUST drank wine. But we made it up to our pod without issue, climbed onto the wooden deck and then down into the room as though descending into a submarine. Our feet hit the bottom of the pod, and we were immediately excited by the adorable setup we saw before us.
It’s hard to get to sleep here, not because it’s uncomfortable (the bed was sooo soft), but because sleep almost feels like a waste of time. Here we were, lying in a bed far above the ground and surrounded by incredible views of the valley below—what were we doing sleeping?! In hindsight, I definitely would’ve set an alarm to wake up more than an hour before breakfast so we could sit on our little patio with the pillows/blankets they provided for us and taken in the breathtaking views.
We ate our breakfast at 7:00am, which was complete with coffee, juice, eggs, granola, fruit, yogurt and luncheon meats/cheese. We then headed back to our individual pods to pack up and take some final photos in the room.
Diego, the photographer, was hanging off the side of a cliff with his camera and snapping shots from the outside looking in at us in the pod. We had a blast during this 20-minute photoshoot, and it definitely wasn’t something we could have done on our own!!!
After this, everyone met up at the top pod (ours) and climbed further up the mountain to find a trail. We wandered down the first of six zipline wires, and began or zigzag descent to the ground. One of the ziplines is even 600 meters (2,000 feet) long!!!
We hit the ground, and suddenly we were back in reality and our night in the clouds was just a precious memory. We continued on our way to Ollantaytambo, and were even given snacks for our journey. All in all, this experience was the highlight of our trip—which is saying something when you consider all the amazing sights that Peru has to offer!
Price per person:
Via Ferrata + Zipline + 1 night –1,475 Soles (approx. $445 USD)
Zipline + 1 night – 1,385 Soles (approx. $417 USD)
Via Ferrata + 1 night – 1,385 Soles (approx. $417 USD)
Via Ferrata + Zipline + Lunch – 860 Soles (approx. $260 USD)
Via Ferrata + Lunch – 770 Soles (approx. $232 USD)
Zipline + Lunch – 770 Soles (approx. $232 USD)
(We definitely recommend doing the overnight and both the Via Ferrata and Zipline, if you can! It’s two incredible and unique activities that my husband and I both felt made the whole experience complete.)