Is Peru’s Skylodge an Acrophobe’s Worst Nightmare?

Two people climbing a via ferrata to reach a pod at Skylodge Adventure Suites
Photo © Felix Wong (cc-by/4.0)

If you were to draw up a bucket list, then the chances are that some of the items on it involve pushing yourself to the limit. Many of the most common goals involve tackling a fear of heights: think ziplining, bungee jumping or skydiving. Falling firmly into this category is a stay at Skylodge Adventure Suites in Peru.

The pros of a stay at Skylodge include spectacular scenery, starry night skies and one heck of an adrenaline rush. However, if you have acrophobia, then the cons might outweigh these positives. Read on to learn more about what makes this such a unique stay, and decide for yourself if it sounds like a dream or a nightmare!

About the Skylodge

The Skylodge (or, to give it its full name, Skylodge Adventure Suites) is a hotel located in Urubamba, Peru. It lies in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and is just a short drive away from the city of Cusco, which was once the capital of the Inca Empire.

To simply call it a “hotel”, however, might be selling it a bit short. You see, this is no ordinary lodging. Instead, it consists of three individual pods anchored into the side of a mountain.

The company behind Skylodge Adventure Suites is Natura Vive, who describe it as the next best thing for those who want to “sleep in a condor’s nest”. With a rating of 4.9 stars on Airbnb, it’s clearly proving a hit—but what’s it really like to stay there? We’ll walk through the experience step by step.

Getting there

Before you get to enjoy a night at the Skylodge, you need to get there. As you can imagine, reaching a hotel suspended on a mountain’s edge is a little trickier than just driving up to the entrance.

There are two possible routes to Skylodge Adventure Suites—though neither is likely to prove appealing to those with a fear of heights!

Option one is to climb a via ferrata up to the pods themselves. For the uninitiated, this involves traversing a series of ladders and metal rungs hammered into the rock face. Perhaps the most terrifying section is the ‘swinging bridge’, where you walk along two wires suspended hundreds of feet above the ground. No prior experience is required, though it won’t hurt if you have previously done some rock climbing.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, then the alternative is hiking an “intrepid trail”. This route will see you taking to ziplines for part of your journey up the mountain.

Staying at the Skylodge

Three people eating a meal at Skylodge Adventure Suites
Photo © Felix Wong (cc-by/4.0)

The trek up to the Skylodge isn’t the easiest, but there are rewards waiting for those willing to brave it. An obvious place to start is the view. In the daytime, you’ll be treated to the scenery of the Sacred Valley as you look down over the Urubamba River. At night, your gaze will rise to the heavens, with clear nights offering you the opportunity to see a blanket of stars.

The pods themselves are comfortable, with each able to sleep up to four people. There’s a private bathroom in each, though no shower is available. It’s also worth noting that there are no power outlets at Skylodge Adventure Suites, so if you’re hoping to snap some photos during your stay, you’ll need to make sure your devices have enough juice to last for the duration.

Overnight guests will also receive a “gourmet” four-course meal in the evening, which is cooked in the lodge itself. You’ll also have breakfast in the morning before starting your descent. If you’d prefer not to stay the night, then there’s also the option to climb up to the suites for lunch and head back down the same day.

The return journey

For your trip back down to earth, you once again have two choices.

The first option involves travelling along a series of ziplines which criss-cross the mountain, steadily coming down to ground level. You can choose to do this alone or to have a guide accompanying you. You’ll also notice that the ziplines get longer over time, with the shortest being just 150 metres long and the longest coming in at a whopping 700 metres! If this doesn’t take your fancy, then your alternative is to abseil: descending a rope down the mountain face itself.

What do guests say?

It’s one thing to read about how a guest’s time at Skylodge is supposed to pan out—but to get the real scoop, there’s no better place to turn than to those who’ve done it for real. We checked out some of the top reviews, and the vast majority raved about the experience:

“From start to finish, it was a unique, exhilarating experience and all of the guides were very fun and friendly. I’ve never heard of an experience like this anywhere else and still can’t believe I slept on the side of a mountain.”

However, as a site that focuses on acrophobia, we wanted to hear what it was like from the perspective of someone with a fear of heights. Several reviewers noted that both the ascent and descent could be tough both physically and mentally:

“[I]t was a great experience […] however, this is a very challenging activity. […] Scaling up a cliff wall more than 300+ meters while climbing on foot pegs and attaching yourself to a safety line via a harness is not exactly easy. […] Great time and glad I did it but don’t underestimate the physical challenge involved with this activity.”

“This is definitely not something for somebody who’s afraid of heights – you’ll climb 300 meters on rickety ladders and cross a ravine on a wire.”

“Yes, it was fun but no, [I] won’t be doing this again. […] I’m not afraid of heights but this was just too sketchy. You have to lean, reach, feel your way at times and it is not an easy climb. Nor is the zip line a cake walk either. Speeds were tremendous and you have to brake furiously.”

Others felt that the climb itself wasn’t too difficult, but that it might not be the best choice for those with a fear of heights:

“I do think one needs a reasonable head for heights to enjoy the journey, but it’s definitely not too difficult for someone of average fitness, with no climbing experience […]”

Nonetheless, one reviewer felt that it was a worthwhile experience even for those with acrophobia:

“I am someone who is absolutely terrified of heights and cliffs. The whole time I felt safe and secure because of the safety equipment and the guides. They encouraged me to take my time and to keep going. The views were absolutely stunning! The experience was amazing and so rewarding yet challenging. I highly recommend this to anyone.”

Skylodge Adventure Suites: video

Still unsure about what a stay at the Skylodge is really like? Check out the video below to see it in action.

Should you visit the Skylodge with a fear of heights?

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already come to a conclusion as to whether the Skylodge is a must-visit or a hard pass. The reality is that the decision is a very personal one, and will come down to the extent of your fear of heights. It’s likely that most (if not all!) visitors will feel some nerves while ascending the via ferrata or ziplining down. Only you can know for sure if your experience will be closer to a fun adrenaline rush or sheer terror. Let’s finish by summing up some of the pros and cons of Skylodge Adventure Suites.

Reasons to go

  • Unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience
  • Views of the Sacred Valley
  • Stargaze at the Milky Way (without dealing with acrophobia in space!)
  • Face your fears

Reasons not to go

  • Incredibly stressful for people with severe acrophobia
  • Requires a decent level of physical fitness and some strength
  • Some reviewers indicate that the climb can be difficult

Want to learn more about travelling with acrophobia? Check out our list of destinations to avoid if you have a fear of heights, or read our guide to taking on the Three Peaks Challenge.