Peru – Sacred Valley

After eleven months of carefully hoarding my vacation days, it was finally time to take another big trip. For the first part of the journey, I had a great travelling partner 😉

We flew from Canada to Peru and headed directly to Cusco, where we spent a day acclimatizing in a lovely hostel right near the city centre. The area was a bit dodgy, however. There were metal bars on the front door and window of the hostel, and the owner had to let us both in and out of the building. We didn’t ask questions, but we found out later that locals considered the street “not the worst, but not the best.”

IMG_20151018_165811
Beautiful view from our window! Well, beautiful background anyway 😛

That first day, we kept ourselves awake by exploring the city. Aside from some shortness of breath while walking up hills and stairs, we thankfully didn’t experience any acclimatization issues.

Plaza de Armas - Spot the Helenka!
Plaza de Armas – Spot the Helenka!
Statue of Pachacuti, the probable builder of Machu Picchu

We stumbled upon the San Francisco Church and Convent, where we took a tour. The paintings were fascinating, and the grounds were beautiful. But our main interest was the catacombs, which were wisely displayed on the sign enticing people to visit the site.

Bones!
Bones!

That night we had the first of many incredibly delicious meals. Peru has officially knocked Japan out of first place in the food category for me. I was in culinary heaven.

Chicken, mushroom sauce and potatoes - all made to perfection! (I did have to remove the cilantro, however)
Chicken, mushroom sauce and potatoes – all made to perfection! (I did have to remove the cilantro. More on that later.)

The next day, we jumped straight into major adventure #1: Skylodge Aventure Suites. I had found out about the lodge a few months earlier while browsing through travel sites (as I often do), and seized the opportunity to book it. It seemed like exactly my idea of an excellent time!

Our guides picked us up in Cusco along with another couple. We drove down a winding road (my poor stomach!) into the Sacred Valley, and stopped right on the highway underneath the glass pods.

They looked super high!
They looked so high!

To reach the pods, we had to do a 122 m climb up a via ferrata, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Since we were attached by a rope at all times, I felt perfectly safe. At one point, we had to shimmy across a tight rope, with a shear drop right below us.

So fun!
Woman on Wire 🙂

Getting closer!
Getting closer!

The last bit before we reached our capsule was the trickiest. The rocks jutted out, and it was sometimes difficult to figure out where to place our arms and legs. It was the only time during the entire experience where I felt a twinge of nervousness.

On the roof of our capsule
Made it!

We climbed through a trap door into the capsule, and settled in for the night. The bed was super cozy, and our room came complete with a decent (dry!) toilet.

Toilet with a view :)
Toilet with a view 🙂

One more pic for good measure :P
One more pic for perspective purposes 😛
Sunset was gorgeous
The sunset was gorgeous

Our guide brought us a wonderful dinner (of which we both forgot to take pictures). He told us that when the lodge first opened in 2013, they didn’t get many customers because people didn’t know about it, but that business had really picked up recently. I was happy for him 🙂 I also (stupidly) asked him about a matter that had been weighing on my mind all afternoon, namely, the frequency of seismic activity in this particular region of Peru. Fortunately, he told us that because of the nature of the rock and how the pods were “locked in” to the cliff, we were actually in one of the safest places should an earthquake occur. I had no idea whether this was true, but I appreciated the answer!

Sleeping in the capsule was an awesome experience. Since there was no reflection at night, we couldn’t see the glass at our heads. The effect made it seem like we were “sleeping into the abyss.” We were also lucky enough to have a clear night, and the stars were amazing. There was a tremendous amount of wind, but the capsule only shook a little.

The next morning, we climbed back out of our capsule and headed over to the guides’ capsule for a yummy breakfast. It was the first time that I’d ever eaten a fancy meal while tethered to a rope 😛

To get back down, we took seven ziplines. One of them was 400 m, and we had to go two at a time to make it across. Wicked fun!

Weeeeeee!
Weeeeeee!

Once we were on the ground, safe and sound, we drove back to Cusco through spectacular scenery.

Chicon Mountain
Chicon Mountain

As far as injuries go, on this particular excursion, I managed to bang my head only twice on the rocks (thank God for my helmet!) and acquire a smattering of new bruises. I consider that a success!

The damage
The damage

Next stop: the Inca Trail!

7 thoughts on “Peru – Sacred Valley

  1. HelenB

    Wonderful stories and experiences. You are fearless! I’m not sure I could have slept in those pods or eaten breakfast with a drop like that in front of me. Looking forward to the next installment.

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