Yesterday morning Benjamin and I awoke at 4:15 AM and scheduled our Uber for 5:20 AM. We tried scheduling the night before but couldn’t get the app to work. After getting ready we went into the living room for a wonderful home-cooked breakfast with our host (Marietta) before departing. Marietta had quite the hospitality gift, cooking as a great breakfast again and then ensuring we were all set. She gave us a handwritten message.
The trip to the airport was as it should be – uneventful. I was amazed, however, that there was no direct route from Lima. There were lots of traffic lights and twists and turns. You would think that in a city of over 11 million people there would be expressways going directly to the airport and helping with traffic in general – especially since there is no railway/subway system. ☹
Our flight to Cusco went smoothly as well. While I was in the back corner, seat(literally) I was content. In fact, I was grateful to have a windows seat as it afforded me some spectacular views of the mountains surrounding Cusco, mountains that we would be hiking in a few days on our trek to Machu Picchu.
We were a little confused since we were not greeted outside the airport with the minibus that was to be our transportation for the day, but eventually figured out that we had to walk out the airport gate to see our driver with a sign. (Despite how much I have traveled, I don’t think I have had more than five occurrences of being met at the airport with a sign and my name so this was novel. 😊) The driver asked if we needed to run any errands (such as picking up water). Even though we were the only two passengers in the van, we declined. I didn’t realize that we would be responsible for our own food and drink for the entire drive.
Our first stop was Chinchero, Peru. We walked to the top of the village to overlook Centro Arqueológico de Chinchero. After taking a few photos, we headed back to the car, stopping with a local vendor to pick up water. As I looked over the courtyard and saw all the vendors, I can’t help but ponder the income. We were the only tourists we saw the entire time we were there and, suspect one of the few tourists for the entire day. Out-of-the-way sights like this are clearly experiencing some of the harshest economic impacts of the pandemic and its shutdowns.
Our next stop was Moray. A large stadium-sized hole with concentric circles. Entrance cost 19 USD each and if I had been paying attention, I probably would have declined as that is exorbitantly expensive, IMO. Oh well, I wasn’t paying attention, so I paid and we wandered in and took some pictures.
Our last tourist stop along the way to our destination was Salineras de Maras – about 3,000 different colored Inca salt pans each around 5 square meters and fed by a hypersaline spring that originated during the formation of the Andes mountains. There is an intricate process for managing the salt and mining it for distribution around the world that has been carried out for generations and continues to this day.
If all that wasn’t enough, we still had the highlight of the day – and our nights’ accommodation was just about to begin. We arrived at the bottom of SkyLodge Adventure Suites via Ferrata. A via Ferrata is a series of steel cables and rungs embedded into the rock to serve as our anchors. In this case, we were to climb 500 ft up to our “sleeping pods” – fixed to the side of the mountain. After putting on our harnesses and discarding all but the minimum we would need for the night, we started climbing. Both Benjamin and I are in relatively good shape, so it took us less than an hour to reach the pods – 1-2 hours before the other folks staying in pods near us.
This gave us plenty of time to wander around the various trails – including walking to where the zipline for our traversal down. The views were spectacular and it was awesome to see the pods in person. During the night I awoke several times and, rather than feeling scared, I was in awe by the fact that we were doing this and awe of the stars and views from the cliff’s edge. It was awesome.
In the morning we had breakfast as we watched the sunrise into the valley. Afterward, we stood out on the roof of our pod and flew the drone across the valley, taking some pretty cool video that captured where we were.
At around 10 AM we took a zip line – ~9 sections of which the longest was just under half a mile. It was a great way to exit and finish off a fantastic one-night adventure. Staying at Skylodge Adventures Suites (https://naturavive.com/web/skylodge-adventure-suites/) has been on my bucket list for a few years now and it met expectations… enough, in fact, that I would enjoy doing it again even. A rarity for me as I generally want to go to new places.