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Most people visit the Sacred Valley in Peru to immerse themselves in what was once the heart of the Incan empire, but few take advantage of the outdoor adventure activities available in the region, like climbing via ferrata (a protected climbing method using fixed steel cables and iron rungs) and ziplining at Natura Vive’s Skylodge Adventure Suites. Although we weren’t able to stay overnight after our climbing and ziplining adventure, Natura Vive does offer an option to dine and sleep in glass capsules fixed to the mountain 400 meters (1,312 feet) above ground, if you’re brave enough. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, don’t forget to add this climbing via ferrata and zipline adventure in the Sacred Valley with Skylodge Adventure Suites to your Peru itinerary.
Pickup and Drop-off
Included in the cost of the activity are roundtrip rides to and from your hotel in Cusco or anywhere along the way in the Sacred Valley. Since we had been hiking through the Sacred Valley prior to meeting up with Skylodge Adventure Suites, we asked to be picked up from the Urubamba bus station instead of from Cusco. Our guide found us quickly at the bus station and made one more stop before arriving at our destination.
Briefing and Safety
Since I had never mountain climbed before – even via ferrata – I was grateful that our guides provided us with a clear and elaborate briefing prior to getting us geared up for the mountains. All the technical gear and safety equipment you’ll need will be provided by Natura Vive, and their experienced guides will help you get suited up, so even complete beginners like myself are able to enjoy this adventure.
What to Pack
You’ll want to bring a backpack with a raincoat, water, and snacks if you get hungry easily. You’ll also want to wear long pants with sneakers or hiking boots (definitely no flip flops as they’ll fly right off, and no sandals as they won’t give you enough support for climbing). If you have a GoPro, this would be the perfect time to use it. Personally, I always wear my Patagonia fanny pack (here’s a similar one from adidas that’s cheaper) while hiking and traveling, so I can easily take my phone out for some photos while climbing.
When you arrive at the site, your guides will give you a brown paper bag with a sandwich, fruit, and mixed nuts that you can either eat before the climb or set aside in your backpack for after you reach the top of the mountain and before you start ziplining back down. I ate my sandwich before we started climbing and was starting to get hungry again by the time we were finished with ziplining.
The via ferrata and zipline tour consists of climbing 400 meters (1,312 feet) up a mountain and taking six ziplines ranging from 150 meters (492 feet) to 700 meters (2,297 feet) long back to your starting point at the bottom of the mountain.
For the first few steps, we used a removable ladder that felt quite shaky, but the guides held it down for us and helped us up to the ladder rungs. Once we got to the iron rungs, the climbing seemed pretty straightforward… for a while, at least.
After climbing a little higher, we reached an area without any rungs. We had to use the actual mountain as our hand grip and step, and that’s when I started to feel like a real mountain climber. The guides were scattered throughout the group to help out with any strategic holds, especially for the shorter people like me who didn’t have as easy of a reach in some spots. The guide who stuck with us most of the way, Lucio, was excellent company. Not only did he help us with our hand and foot placements, he also gave us a mini history lesson on the Incans and the Sacred Valley and answered all of our questions about the area and about Peru in general.
If you’re afraid of heights, you might not want to spend too much time looking down or around. If you feel comfortable with heights, however, make sure to take in the views around you as they are simply breathtaking.
A little more than an hour later, we reached the top of the mountain and took a little snack break before starting the zipline portion of our tour. While the climb was challenging in certain places, we were given full reign to rest and drink some water as often as we needed, so there was no question that we would be able to make it to the top.
Once we were fully rested from the climb, we set off on the next portion of our adventure: ziplining. We were first given thick gloves to wear over our climbing gloves so that our hands would stay safe against the metal zipline cables. Then, while still attached to the steel cable, we hiked across and down the mountain for about 10 minutes before reaching our first zipline. Each subsequent zipline would require a bit of hiking in between as well.
Thankfully, the first zipline was a shorter one, which gave us an opportunity to get a good feel for the zipline before cruising down the longer ones. The next zipline was the longest and required two people to go at once so that there would be enough weight to propel the individuals all the way across. In total, our zipline adventure consisted of six ziplines, with the final one returning us directly to our starting spot.
Luckily, we were able to take our own photos, but if you’re traveling solo, there is a professional photographer on site to take photos of you for 100 soles. Just make sure to notify a guide and purchase the photo package before leaving for the mountains, so the photographer is ready to go when you depart.
If anything, our climbing via ferrata and zipline adventure in the Sacred Valley with Skylodge Adventure Suites piqued my interest in climbing rather than quelled any thirst for adventure I was experiencing. Next time I’m back in Cusco, I’ll be sure to pay Natura Vive another visit and make sure I get to experience a night in a transparent capsule on the side of a mountain at the Skylodge Adventure Suites.
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A big thank you to Natura Vive for making our trip possible. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.