Skylodge Peru – Can I Make It?
If one-of-a-kind hotels and exhilarating experiences interest you, then chances are you have heard of the legendary and beloved Skylodge in Peru. The chance to climb up a mountain and have unbeatable views of the breathtaking Sacred Valley below is a dream come true for adventurers and adrenaline junkies alike.
Before booking a night in the lodge, you might be asking yourself; can I do this as a beginner? What if I have no experience in rock climbing? Would I even make it to the top?
We know it can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry. We have tried and tested the Skylodge and are here to tell you the whole truth – from what to expect, to how challenging the climb really is. Check out our article below for our trusted insider tips and, of course, the answer to the all-important question; is the 400-meter climb to the hanging lodge really worth it?
What’s all the fuss about?
Skylodge Peru is the world’s first-ever hanging lodge. Suspended 400m (1,312ft) above the Sacred Valley, visitors can enjoy some of the most astounding views in the world. You have three options to choose from to experience the Skylodge. You can either:
- Visit for the day to have lunch in their communal dining pod, or
- Spend a night in one of their three sleeping capsules or
- Choose the budget option with only ziplining (you won’t get to visit the pods)
My colleague and I, both traveler designers with no previous rock climbing experience (and short on time), opted for the day trip with lunch.
The way up
Once at the base of Skylodge, you will get the necessary equipment; a harness, gloves, and a helmet. There is a toilet, so make sure to visit it before starting your climb up (the next toilet is in the pods)!
The base of the Skylodge is situated at about 2,790 m.a.s.l. (9,150 ft) and the lodge is situated at about 3,190 m.a.s.l. (10,465 ft).
To reach the Skylodge you have to climb up the face of the cliff using fixed steel ladders and cables (called ‘Via Ferrata’) or hike a trail along the various zip lines. We climbed up via ferrata after 3 days of acclimatization in Cusco.
Despite being an active person (who runs regularly), I must admit that the climb was quite challenging. On the one hand, it is necessary to use muscles you do not use on an everyday basis. On the other hand, the most challenging part for me was a swinging bridge, where you only have one cable that holds you up and you need to keep your balance yourself.
All in all, the 900-step climb took about 2 hours and we were quite exhausted upon reaching the dining pod, but was it worth it… The view from above is absolutely breathtaking. Even though it was challenging, there was a guide in front of us and one behind the last traveler as well. Knowing there was an expert with us every step of the way, really eased my nerves. There is also no rush and the guides are really supportive so don’t worry if you need to take a short break every now and then to catch your breath.
How we recommend preparing for the climb
- First off, it is no lie that having some previous experience in rock climbing will make the experience considerably easier. However, we also managed without. Therefore, don’t let your possible lack of experience scare you off. If you consider yourself an active and reasonably fit person, then you will manage just fine!
- Most importantly, we recommend, spending some time (2-3 days) in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before your visit to the Skylodge to make sure you are acclimated to the higher altitude.
- Secondly, this is not the best experience for you if you have a crippling fear of heights. It is normal to feel an adrenaline rush as you climb up a mountain. However, if heights make you dizzy, then it would be best to sit this one out.
- Finally, if you do have a few weeks before leaving for your trip to Peru, it wouldn’t hurt to do some exercises to train your arm muscles, as you will definitely be needing them (you should be able to lift yourself up a little bit – but don’t worry, no one is expecting you to do a full pull up!) Furthermore, before arriving in Peru, why not stop by a rock-climbing arena to be (or at least feel) a bit more prepared! 😊
Scroll down to check out all our insider tips for making the most out of your Skylodge experience!
A well-deserved meal
After reaching the transparent dining capsule perched on the side of the mountain, we were more than excited to be served our well-deserved lunch. The views were absolutely breathtaking.
Considering the fact that all ingredients were brought up in the guides’ backpacks and the food was cooked on the side of a cliff, it was absolutely delicious. Consisting of 4 courses (soup, salad, main course, and dessert), the meal was more than enough.
My colleague also got her vegetarian option, as requested. The Skylodge crew are pretty accommodating – just let them know your dietary restrictions ahead of time.
Non-alcoholic beverages and wine were available. For me, the glass of wine was exactly what I needed to give me the energy and the courage to stand up and start the descent back down again.
Back to earth
Coming down from the Skylodge, you can choose between:
- Rappelling down or
- Taking the ziplines
We opted for the ziplines. Before starting your descent, you can decide if you would like a guide to accompany you or if you would like to try descending alone (I chose to be accompanied).
The way down has 7 different zip lines ranging from 150 m (493 ft) to 700 m (2,297 ft) and totaling up to 2,800 m (9,187 ft) in distance. You will first start with a 30-minute hike via Ferrata to the first line. Each zip line is different, starting with an easy and short one and getting progressively longer as you descend (and gain confidence in your ziplining abilities!) Once you reach the valley floor, a van will be waiting at the foot of the mountain to take you to your hotel.
Sleeping among the stars
If you decided to opt for an overnight, your adventure will begin with an afternoon pick-up in Cusco (or Sacred Valley). Upon arriving in Pachar you will complete your safety briefing and begin your ascent via Ferrata or zip line hike. Once you arrive at the Skylodge at about 6 pm, the guides will welcome you with a hot drink and provide you with a tour and safety information of the accommodation. At 8 pm dinner will be served in the dining pod.
The best part of having an overnight at Skylodge Peru is the chance for some unbeatable stargazing if the sky is clear. If it’s not cloudy, you will have some spectacular views of the milky way. Furthermore, having more time at the lodge gives you the chance to take amazing photos with the capsules. In case you are met with cloudy weather on your ascent, you have a second day where the weather could clear up, giving you another chance for amazing views and perfect photos.
The following morning, you will enjoy an early breakfast as you watch the sun rise over the magnificent Sacred Valley. Afterward, you will start your descent back down, from where the guides will bring you back to your hotel in Cusco or Sacred Valley.
What to expect from your room in the sky
The suites are quite comfortable and offer amazing 300-degree vistas of the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River. They are clean and feature some nice décor. The capsules are made of aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate. They measure about 7.5 m (24 ft) in length and 2.6 m (8 ft) in height and width. To ensure breath-taking views, the capsules are almost completely transparent (except for the aluminum framework). There are also some curtains for a good rest. Each capsule also features four comfortable beds, a small dining area, and a private bathroom. Solar power provides light in the suites, although keep in mind there are no power outlets.
The Skylodge bathrooms are separate from the sleeping area and consist of a dry ecological toilet and sink as well as curtains for privacy (from passing condors 😉). Keep in mind that there are no showers.
The capsules have a small observation deck above them, perfect for taking some amazing photos. Climbing in and out of your capsule requires a helmet, gloves, and a harness (as well as informing the guides via walkie-talkie).
Our Insider Tips
- We recommend visiting in the DRY season (from April to October). We had our lunch in the sky during the RAINY season and even though the valley was beautifully green, it was quite cloudy which wasn’t ideal for shooting photos.
- If you plan to spend the night, make sure to pack a headlamp.
- Bring comfortable clothes, including long pants, a light wind- and waterproof jacket, and hiking boots.
- Bring a reusable water bottle. The lodge offers purified water for refills.
- Skylodge Peru states that the minimum age for ziplining is 7 years and for ‘Via Ferrata’ it is 8 years. Our recommendation would be to only let children from 12 years visit the lodge.
- Consider purchasing a photography service from the lodge. That way a photographer joins you and captures amazing shots of your climb. The photography package costs around 70-100 USD.
- Take a GoPro (and helmet mount) with you to get some awesome footage. If you are going with someone, make sure you both wear an action camera to get shots of each other. Alternatively, you could use your smartphone, although due to the challenging nature of the climb, we definitely recommend a hands-free option.
- Carry a small backpack with you if you spend the night in the lodge. Pack as light as you can to make the climb up as comfortable as possible.
- It is not necessary to have previous rock-climbing experience however, the climb requires a good level of fitness and is not suitable for those who are really afraid of heights.
- Previous acclimatization and drinking plenty of water are key.
- The maximum weight allowed is 120 kg per visitor.
Getting to the Skylodge
Situated in Pachar, between the towns of Ollantaytambo and Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, Skylodge is about an hour and a half’s drive from Cusco and only 15 minutes’ drive from Ollantaytambo train station (where the trains to Machu Picchu leave from). Check out our map below and look for the green circle with the number 8.
Your adventure at Skylodge includes a pickup from your hotel in Cusco city (or Sacred Valley) as well as a drop-off.
The final verdict
Visiting the Skylodge is a dream come true for adventurers. Even though it was challenging, we still succeeded in arriving at the top, despite our lack of experience in rock climbing. So to answer the question of whether the climb is worth it – yes, it most definitely is! If you are considering it, do yourself a favor and just go for it. We promise you won’t regret it!
Check out our itinerary with Skylodge and Machu Picchu for some more inspiration!