Climbing a via ferrata up the Sacred Valley in the Peruvian Andes is only half the enjoyable on this journey. Wasting the darknes dangled 400 m above it is the real adventure
Its when my indestructible stainless steel water bottle launches out of my daypack like a rocket, and crashes on the riverbed below that I realise just how perilous my situation has become.
Im halfway up a cliff in the Sacred Valley of Peru, about an hour and a half north-west of Cusco, and the only happen stopping me from joining my smashed bottle below is a harness and a clip. I know its enough to keep me safely tethered to the wall, but the sight of my water bottle gives me a abrupt whirl of vertigo.
In front of me is a sheer stone face decked out with 400 cast-iron calls, part of a two-hour-long via ferrata climbing itinerary that begins at an unmarked turn-off on Avenida Ferrocarril nine miles west of Urubamba. Via ferrata, Italian for cast-iron street, is a clambering mode that originated in the Alps that allows everyday climbers to navigate tough roadways with the aid of rings and a sword cable thats specified to the rock-and-roll at tactical delays.
This particular via ferrata includes whats known as a dangle connection. It tower up ahead as the latest defy in what the Indian newlyweds who are climbing exactly ahead of me have described as an adult obstacle course. The hanging connection is nothing more than two parallel chords one for feet, the other for handwritings and it requires a leap of faith into a vertical caste before shimmying over an abyss.
Fears subdued and connection swept, I monkey up the mountain for another half an hour under the watchful eye of my guide Americo Serrano. The higher we clamber, the more the hollow walls open up and discover their precious, including a smattering of crumbling Inca spoils secrete among the shrubs. We stop sometimes to admire the uncommon Andean orchids above or the increasingly miniaturised adobe village below before the strangest spate of all comes into view.
Nestled 400 m up the cliff appearance like three translucent condor eggs is our destination for the night: the Skylodge Adventure Suites. Dubbed the worlds first hanging hostel, Skylodge has become a fixture on Pinterest travel committees and dream destination listicles because it debut in June 2013 and its not hard to see why. Its an audacious job located on the way to one of the planets most visited man-made speculates: Machu Picchu.
The train to Machu Picchu comes choo-chooing along its ways in the valley below just as Im detecting my fishbowl in the sky the adventure suite has 300 -degree panoramas over slopes engraved into sharp-witted slants by the Urubamba river.
Each of Skylodges three octagonal capsules are made of aerospace aluminium and weather-resistant polycarbonate. Inside are four retractable tables, four solar-powered lights and plush plots( two singles and one double contained within plenty green expanses and cloud-like duvets ). There are currently five openings that govern the temperature and mitigate the funk of a daylight wasted climbing.
I find the loo in a infinite held separately from the rest of the capsule by a thick canvas wall with a zip-up door. Inside is a washbasin with loping sea, a urinal and a dry lavatory( a normal porcelain bowl with an abnormal plastic crate and gutter plan ). Theres no shower, but its about as luxurious as you can get given the implausible locale.
Serrano tells me over dinner( quinoa salad, cook chicken and a chocolate patty that he carted up in his backpack, reheated and paired with a bottle of appetizing Peruvian wine) that Skylodge is a one-of-a-kind project that could only exist in a country like Peru. Thats because permissions and countenances came long after the capsules were made and fastened to the valley wall with 12 fastens apiece. Its not that the capsules are unsafe designers have inspected all of the installations and theyre regularly evaluated by staff but activity director Ario Ferri wasnt going to let bureaucracy devastates his dream.
Ferri is a master welder who designed each of these vessels himself in his store in Urubamba, alleges Serrano, who was part of the team that wasted 2 month lugging the three-part capsules up the mountain. The objective was to take the concept of a fix portaledge tent from the mountaineering macrocosm and make it into something anyone could enjoy.
Serrano clambered the ladder out of my vessel after dinner and shimmies over to his own pod for the night. Well is still in contact by radio, but the night is mine to enjoy
The roaring jazzs that whip through the Sacred Valley each afternoon have died down. No longer sounding , nor threatening to topple down the hill, the vessel becomes a haven of calmnes and a opening to the night sky. Hundreds of glinting stellars, including those of the Southern Cross, appear so close on the far side of the transparent wall I seem as though I could reach out and pinch them.
Sleep, while postponed like a cloud in the sky, comes easier than guessed. And I need the rest. Ive got seven hair-raising zip-lines to steer before I touch down on solid ground tomorrow afternoon.
Accommodation was provided by Natura Vive (+ 51 084 -7 93019 ), which offers a fully-guided two-day, one-night bundle that includes the via ferrata, zip-lines, dinner, breakfast, adaptation at Skylodge and transportation to and from Cusco for PS198pp