San Blas: A Bohemian Gem in Cusco

Situated just a short walking distance from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas is one of the most beautiful districts in the city. It features a variety of beautifully restored buildings, narrow cobble-stone alleys, quaint streets, artisanal shops, as well as cafes and bars.

The neighborhood is well-known for its artsy bohemian barrio, which boasts an outdoor artisan market as well as a small plaza where artists sell their handicrafts on Sundays. Several art studios and workshops also lined the cobbled streets of San Blas.

Iglesia de San Blas is one of the top attractions to visit while in the neighborhood. The mid-1500s church features an intricate pulpit carved in the Spanish Churrigueresque style.

San Blas is surrounded by ancient Inca history, take a walk around the neighborhood and soak up the ambiance.

Want to plan your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,
Gretchen

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EcoCamp Patagonia Now Open In Winter!

Attention all adventure-seekers! We are so excited to announce that EcoCamp Patagonia is now officially open during Chile’s winter season. It’s the perfect chance to have that big, beautiful and snowy landscape all to yourself! Keep reading and learn what to expect on a trip to EcoCamp Patagonia this winter. 

EcoCamp Patagonia in winter
Winter at EcoCamp Patagonia

Get Your Facts Straight

  • Winter Months: May, June, July and August
  • EcoCamp’s Schedule: Open every other week this winter!
  • Available EcoCamp Domes: Due to Patagonia’s chilly temperatures, travelers can only book a Suite or Superior Dome. It’s a little too cold to stay in a Standard Dome (which doesn’t have heating).
  • Adventures to Book: Winter Flexible EcoCampWinter W Trek and Patagonian Winter Adventure. 

More About Our Epic Adventures

As mentioned above, we are offering three EcoCamp adventures in winter: the Winter Wildlife Safari, Winter W Trek and Patagonian Winter Adventure. Learn more about these snowy experiences to discover which trip is right for you: 

EcoCamp Patagonia in winter
  • Winter Flexible EcoCamp: (4- 7 Days): This is one of our most popular EcoCamp experiences! During winter, travelers can pick from one of two daily activities. Through each excursion, you will discover the park’s remarkable viewpoints and admire local fauna. Please note that during this season, we only have excursions available from Tuesday to Saturday. Click here to view our daily activities.
  • Winter W Trek (7 Days): Take on a wilder, more adventurous version of Patagonia’s classic W Trek. Along with cozy nights at EcoCamp, you will camp out along the trail and visit iconic scenery, such as the base of the Towers or the French Valley. Keep in mind that this trek is a bit more challenging during the winter season and snowshoes are advised! 
  • Patagonian Winter Adventure (5 Days)Explore the Magallanes region and spend a couple of nights at EcoCamp Patagonia. This is a great option for travelers who want to see Torres del Paine, as well as the surrounding areas. The itinerary includes a kayaking excursion, trekking, and much more. 

Why You Should Come in Winter

There are plenty of reasons why winter is the best time of year to visit Torres del Paine! For starters…

grey glacier, torres del paine in winter
  • It’s absolutely stunning! Imagine snow-capped mountains, crystal blue lakes and quiet forests that are all surrounded by a blanket of white, icy terrain.
  • Shy fauna come out to play! You have a better chance of spotting wildlife with fewer travelers in the park. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful birds, foxes, pumas and huemules (native deer).
  • Patagonia is your own personal playground! The park is practically empty around this time of year. That means you can enjoy the landscapes and hiking trails without any crowds. It’s great for people who are looking for a peaceful and remote experience. 
  • It’s perfect for true adventurers! The weather is colder and the conditions are rougher — but it is all part of the Patagonia winter experience. Wintertime is a dream for those looking for a rugged, outdoor vacation.  

Are you ready to book your winter adventure? Contact our Chile expert, Gretchen, today!

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7 Hikes You Can’t Miss Near Santiago, Chile PART 2

Continuing on from our last post, here are the final of our top favorite, can’t-miss hikes to do around Santiago, Chile!

5) Cascada De Las Animas
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.5 hours roundtrip
Location: Cajon de Maipo

Nestled in the Cajon de Maipo, is 3,600 hectares of beautiful land and nature. This nature sanctuary is just an hour or two from Santiago and offers fun adventure activities, as well as cozy accommodation. For hikers, there is a family-friendly trail that leads to three breathtaking waterfalls.

The hike cost 7,000 CLP and is led by an expert guide. Your guide will share some history and information about the area. Additionally, visitors will pass by the Refugio Animal Cascada and might be lucky enough to spot a puma! This Refugio is an animal sanctuary that has rehabilitation programs for native fauna and education opportunities.

6) El Morado National Monument
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 5 hours roundtrip
Location: Cajon de Maipo

Another fantastic hike near Santiago is at El Morado National Park. It’s an opportunity to see one of the region’s most beloved glaciers! Hike in the midst of the Andes, traveling through rocky terrain and amongst blooming wildflowers. The grand prize is a stunning view of San Francisco Glacier and lagoon — it makes a great stop for lunch!

After completing the full 5-hour journey, you can stop by the hot springs to sooth your muscles. Cascada Expediciones offers a fantastic all-day excursion to visit the glacier and the hot springs.

7) Cerro Pintor
Difficulty: Demanding
Length: 8 hours roundtrip
Location: Santiago (surrounding areas)

Cerro Pintor is a fantastic day trip for experienced hikers that are up for a challenge! The trail goes up a very steep hill and reaches an altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level! Not to mention, the hike takes a full day to complete.

Cerro Pintor sits closeby a popular ski center in the Andes and offers some spectacular views of the surrounding area. Due to the route’s high altitude, it is recommended to stay well hydrated before and during the hike. Hikers should drink at least three liters of water per day for at least a week prior to the excursion. Additionally, everyone must come prepared with proper boots, layered clothing and hiking poles. Crampons should be used if snow or ice is present.


Want to add some of these hikes on to your next Chile Adventure contact us!

Stay tuned for the rest of the list of hikes around Santiago next week!

Your friendly Chile expert,
Gretchen



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7 Hikes You Can’t Miss Near Santiago, Chile PART 1

In Chile, hiking is not limited to just the Patagonian region! Many parts of the country have great trails to check out, including in the Central Valley. This region offers a distinct type of climate and landscape, along with beautiful flora and fauna to admire. In fact, there are many hiking opportunities right by or in Santiago, Chile’s capital city. That means, you can easily escape the hustle and bustle and hop right into beautiful nature within a matter of minutes!

There are so many great trails to pick from, but today we’ve listed some of our favorites. Without further ado, here are 7 great hikes near Santiago.

1) Aguas de Ramon
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 7-8 hours roundtrip
Location: Santiago

Located on the eastside of Santiago, Parque Aguas de Ramon offers a slew of wide, open land to explore! There are a few routes to take, but a common one is Salto de Apoquindo which leads visitors straight to a waterfall! That’s right — there is a waterfall in the middle of Santiago.

The park is home to local fauna, including foxes, tarantulas and various birds. There are also many opportunities to check out local flora that reside in the dry and sunny Santiago climate.

If you are going to complete the full hike, it is important to arrive early to the park! Every visitor needs to check in before embarking on the excursion and you won’t be allowed to complete the hike if the ranger does not think there is enough time. Arriving between 8 and 8:30 AM is recommended.

2) Mirador de Los Condores
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 4-5 hours roundtrip
Location: Cajon de Maipo

Just a couple of hours outside of Santiago is a great hike to the “Mirador de Los Cóndores.” This translates to “Condor Lookout” in English. Based on the name, you might guess that there is a lot of Andean condors on this trail! That’s right — it’s one of the best spots to marvel at this massive bird (one that’s wingspan stretches to 3 meters).

Keep in mind that you are entering the condors’ home. It’s important that all hikers are respectful of the birds and observe them from a safe distance.

3) Cerro Manquehue
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 2-3 hours roundtrip
Location: Santiago

The Cerro Manquehue trail can also be found in the middle of Santiago. But this one goes straight up hill! It is shorter in distance than Aguas de Ramon, the city’s other popular trail, but is significantly steeper. Prepare to strut through the dirt trails, up rocks and to one of the most beautiful spots above the city. You’ll sit right beside the clouds!

For those looking for an easier hike, in the same area there is Cerro Manquehuito. This is a smaller hill and doable for hikers of all ages. On a sunny weekend, it’s likely you’ll spot families, pets and groups of friends hiking up the hill.

For both hills, make sure to wear proper trekking shoes and bring plenty of water. Hiking poles are also helpful due to the steep terrain.

4) La Campana National Park
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 5-6 hours roundtrip
Location: Olmue

Palm trees galore! La Campana National Park is the perfect place to spot the Chilean palm trees. In this national park, there are hundreds of trees, as well as many beautiful landscapes. You can camp, bike, hike and more!

One great hike in the park is the Amasijo- Portezuelo Ocoa Trail, which leads visitors into an area filled with palm trees. Just make sure to pay careful attention to the pathway. An area with so many similar-looking trees can be confusing.

Want to add some of these hikes on to your next Chile Adventure contact us!

Stay tuned for the rest of the list of hikes around Santiago next week!

Your friendly Chile expert,
Gretchen

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GUEST REVIEW: Brazilian Amazon

This group of 6 AWR travelers just returned from an adventure in the Brazilian Amazon. Read on for their highlights and travel advice!

“We had a GREAT time in the Amazon! The folks at Tariri lodge were great & the food was wonderful! Wish we could spend more time there. Hard to coordinate 6 people’s schedules.

The night boat ride was great: everyone in the group remarked how cool it was to be on the water hearing the sounds of the jungle & seeing all the Southern Hemisphere stars! The group really enjoyed piranha fishing too (I was the only one who didn’t catch one though!)

Everyone on the AWR team was great & helpful & prompt!

My advice would have to do with flight-hopping within Brazil. Try to pack JUST carry on if you can: they’re more flexible with baggage too. In fact, the GOL rep. told us not to check the bags we were going to check and indeed we had no issues with 2 carry on size bags each. Connections can be tight (they had to reschedule us because one plane was late) & you never know. There aren’t the same fluid restrictions for domestic flights in Brazil. GOL did take good care of us when they had to reschedule our flights & put us up in a nice hotel near the SDU airport in Rio complete with cab fare & meals.

-Sven”

Want to plan your own Brazilian Amazon adventure? Contact us!

Also, check out some of these trips for inspiration:

3-Day Unique Amazon Bungalow Adventure

4-Day Amazon Immersion: Jungle Adventure

5-Day Complete Amazon: Boat Expedition

6-Day Secrets and Spices of the Amazon

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Amazon, Brazil, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice, Trip Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Must-Do Hikes Around Cusco PART 3

The nature surrounding Cusco, Peru is some of the most astounding in the World. Complete with snowcapped peaks, deep sprawling valleys, roaring rivers, ancient buildings, and colorful sunsets and sunrises. These magical landscapes in and around Cusco are ones you’ll want to explore close up, walk through, and take a day or two to slow down to soak it all in. The perfect way to do this is by one of many half-day, day, or two-day hikes in the area. Travel to the Sacred Valley to experience astonishing ruins or stay close by and enjoy remarkable views of Cusco from the nearby mountains. Continue on to find more information on the top ten hikes we offer in this area. All of our hikes include transportation (if necessary), a bilingual guide, and some include meals.

8) Hike Palccoyo

Duration transportation (RT): 6:15 hours
Hiking distance: 3.3 km / 2.1 mi
Duration of the hike: 3:30 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Enjoy a lot of the same experiences listed in the two hikes above, but with a more relaxed and less strenuous trek. In the same area as the Vinicunca hike but on a different route, we start out on a scenic stone path, passing two viewpoints along the way. Once we arrive at the main viewpoint we’ll be enchanted by the entire Vilcanota Mountain Range, including the snow-capped Ausangate glacier. This glacier is one of the three most important Apus (sacred peaks) in Incan culture. We have the option to hike up to the stone forest viewing the unusual rock formations before taking another path to complete our circuit.

9) The Vinicunca Experience

Duration transportation (RT): 7 hours
Hiking distance: 10 km / 6.2 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:30 hours
Difficulty: Challenging

Vinicunca, more commonly known as the “rainbow mountain,” is one of the most famous hikes in all of Peru. A challenging, but rewarding hike where you’re able to marvel at rolling rainbow-colored mountains littered with alpacas. The unusually colorful mountains are created by striped layers of sediment formed by diverse minerals. The trek begins in Chilca, making stops at Urcos and Checacupe along the way. In Urcos you’re able to enjoy the bustling local market and in Checacupe, google at the colonial bridges and Churches. Next, we continue to Pampachiri where the challenging ascending trail begins. Drink in the crisp mountain air as you make your way to the viewpoint. Rewarded with panoramic views of unimaginably colorful mountains, it’s a trek you’ll be writing home about.

10) The Vinicunca Experience and Red Canyon

Duration transportation (RT): 6:30 hours
Hiking distance: 16 km / 10 mi
Duration of the hike: 7 hours
Difficulty: Challenging

This trek is similar to the one listed above but includes the Red Canyon in addition to Vinicunca. Enjoy the vibrant rainbow mountain before continuing to the impressive Red Canyon. Another colorful masterpiece, these scarlet hues contrast beautifully with the blue skies and vibrant green terrain. And if that wasn’t majestic enough, observe the striking white glacier of Apu Ausangate and the Vilcanota Mountain Range. If you’re lucky you might even spot a golden vicuna, the wild ancestor of the alpaca.

Stay tuned for the rest of the top ten hikes around Cusco next week!

Want to add one or more of these to your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Family Travel, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru, South America, Trekking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

10 Must-Do Hikes Around Cusco PART 2

The nature surrounding Cusco, Peru is some of the most astounding in the World. Complete with snowcapped peaks, deep sprawling valleys, roaring rivers, ancient buildings, and colorful sunsets and sunrises. These magical landscapes in and around Cusco are ones you’ll want to explore close up, walk through, and take a day or two to slow down to soak it all in. The perfect way to do this is by one of many half-day, day, or two-day hikes in the area. Travel to the Sacred Valley to experience astonishing ruins or stay close by and enjoy remarkable views of Cusco from the nearby mountains. Continue on to find more information on the top ten hikes we offer in this area. All of our hikes include transportation (if necessary), a bilingual guide, and some include meals.

5) Pumamarca to Ollantaytambo

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 4 hours
Hiking distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 2:30 – 3:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Fun for the whole family! This half-day adventure and trek will allow you to explore the Sacred Valley. It gives a glimpse into the local culture and communities in the area and visits archaeological sites. Travel from Cusco, past the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo, to Palata where we will begin our trek. The trail inclines to reach the stunning Pumamarca, an Inca treasure. Once again the Inca chose a remarkable site to build. This high vista point overlooks the Patacancha Valley and nearby rivers. Explore the archaeological compound of Pumamarca, where you can observe the impressive Inca stonework. From stairs to buildings to storage units, observe the diverse ability of the ancient civilization. After discovering all that Pumamarca has to offer, we continue trekking through phenomenal Andean landscapes to Musqa Pukyo. These farmed terraces make for a stunning sight against the backdrop of the panoramic view of the Sacred Valley. Our day comes to a close in the village of Ollantaytambo, where we drive back to Cusco.

6) Quillarumiyoc to Zurite Terraces

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2:15 hours
Hiking distance: 7.4 km / 4.6 mi
Duration of the hike: 3:00 – 4:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Take in the vision that is Quillarumiyoc on this half-day, but undemanding trek. Quillarumiyoc is a pre-Inca temple built over 3000 years ago. Erected to honor Mama Quilla, which is the Goddess of the Moon and one of the most important of all the ancient gods. Although partially buried by an avalanche, you can still see the ancient stonework, engravings, and symmetrical carvings of this site. After having to time to explore this area, we stroll down to Qapac Ñan, the most important road running through the Andes. Wander through eucalyptus forests, vast potato farms, and ending at the village of Zurite. In Zurite we will enjoy a lunch in a beautifully restored colonial house before heading to the nearby terraced farms. This trip is a perfect melody of nature, Inca and pre-Inca ruins, and cultural education.

7) Chinchero to Urquillos

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2:30 hours
Hiking distance: 9.2 km / 5.7 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Enjoy a half day of adventure in the Sacred Valley! This easy hike is comprised of mostly downhill trekking complete with incredible scenery and wildlife. We begin by driving to Chinchero, a small, traditional Inca town known for its colonial buildings and skilled weavers. We will spend some time in the town, observing its archaeological complex before proceeding on our hike. Feel the history as we hike down a reconstructed, but original cobblestone Inca trail. Pause to drink in the staggeringly beautiful views from a lookout before descending a zigzag trail to the Urquillos Canal. Along the way, our knowledgeable guides will point out the blooming flora and abundant birdlife and wildlife. Our day comes to a close when we reach the Urquillos Bridge, suspended over the Urubamba River. Enjoy the sounds of the flowing river before hopping in the private car back to Cusco.

Stay tuned for the rest of the top ten hikes around Cusco next week!

Want to add one or more of these to your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Family Travel, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

10 Must-Do Hikes Around Cusco PART 1

The nature surrounding Cusco, Peru is some of the most astounding in the World. Complete with snowcapped peaks, deep sprawling valleys, roaring rivers, ancient buildings, and colorful sunsets and sunrises. These magical landscapes in and around Cusco are ones you’ll want to explore close up, walk through, and take a day or two to slow down to soak it all in. The perfect way to do this is by one of many half-day, day, or two-day hikes in the area. Travel to the Sacred Valley to experience astonishing ruins or stay close by and enjoy remarkable views of Cusco from the nearby mountains. Continue on to find more information on the top ten hikes we offer in this area. All of our hikes include transportation (if necessary), a bilingual guide, and some include meals.

1) Hiking Cusco’s Backyard

Duration transportation (RT): 25 min
Hiking distance: 5 km / 3 mi
Duration of the hike: 2:30 – 3:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy 1-2-3-4-5

Ideal for those getting acclimated to the elevation, this half-day trip is an easy and excellent way to get familiar with the city by hiking through the countryside above it. We begin by taking a short ride to the peak of Huayllarcocha wetlands. Enjoy the view as well as the abundant birdlife surrounding this marshy land. From there we will continue down until we reach a mysterious rock resembling a man’s face, Cara del Inca (Inca’s face). Enjoy a relaxing moment before resuming on our hike to the Temple of the Moon, a stunning and ancient Huaca (ceremonial site). This site is exceptionally unique as it is two caves set in the hillside. Marvel at the ability of the ancient individuals to perfectly carve and align the alters within the caves to bask in the moonlight during certain times of the year. Following the Temple of the moon we descent further down a grassy path to reach the Temple of the Monkeys (Cusilluchayoc). Another ancient Incan ruins complete with carvings of monkeys and other animals. Our tour comes to a close as we continue down until we reach the colorful and bustling San Blas neighborhood of Cusco. This is the perfect, tranquil way to explore the nature surrounding Cusco as well as lesser-known ruins, without the overwhelming crowds or long drive.

2) Hike to the Unknown Ruins of Cusco

Duration transportation (RT): 40 min
Hiking distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

This hike is perfect for individuals that might have some physical or time restrictions as it is close by and only a half-day adventure. Similar to the hike mentioned above, we explore the nearby areas including the Temple of the Monkeys. Begin by observing the bustling main square, Plaza de Armas, before resuming up a staircase to the colorful, artistic, and rustic neighborhood of San Blas. Next, we will enjoy the Temple of the Monkeys and the Temple of the Moon. From there, we hike to the archeological site of Inkilltambo Bridge. Enjoy a mix of Incan structures and agricultural terraces while relaxing before we finish our tour with a short car ride back to Cusco.

3) Hike to Huchuy Qosco (2D/1N)

Duration transportation (RT): 1:15 hours
– Day 1: Cusco / Qoricocha lake / Apachetas / Huchuy Qosqo
Hiking distance: 10.3 km (5.8 mi)Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
– Day 2: Huchuy Qosqo / Lamay / Cusco 2:00 – 3:00 hours
Hiking distance: 3.6 km (2.2 mi)Duration of the hike: 1:30 – 2:30 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

The ultimate two-day overnight trip for those individuals wanting an active, yet informative tour. Beginning at the shores of the divine Lake Qoricocha (Golden Lake), we will admire the glassy reflection before ascending towards the puna. This peak will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. A barren, treeless high plateau where you’ll be able to spot herds of alpacas and llamas lazily grazing across the terrain. Enjoy lunch out in nature before continuing to Apacheta Pass and Huchuyqosqo. The scenic hike includes views of the surrounding snowcovered Andes mountains.

Day two begins with a well-balanced breakfast before our journey to the Huchuyqosqo site. This ancient site dates back to the early 15th century and is believed to be the home of the eight Inca, Viracocha. This royal Inca estate contains stone and adobe buildings, an impressive great hall, and an irrigation channel that is STILL functioning today. This architectural masterpiece is said to be where Viracocha died. We conclude our hike by traversing down a zigzag path down the mountain to Lamay.

4) Hike through Moray, Maras, and Pichingoto

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 12 km / 7.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:30 – 5: 30 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

This trip is a delightful way to experience the Sacred Valley and the most impressive sites it has to offer. The first stop is Moray, one of the earliest agricultural experiments in existence. These circular terraces create microclimates that allow a plethora of crops to grow. Learn how ancient indigenous people took only the land they had to build a technology that was only matched centuries later with the creation of greenhouses. Following Moray, we continue trekking to Maras. Maras is where the residents mine salt by pooling the salty runoff from a nearby mountain. Stand in awe at the thousands of white and pink saltpans terraced in the mountainside. We will learn about how the site is still run entirely by local families while tasting the salt and studying the beneficial health properties of the mineral. After admiring these two sites we continue hiking to Pichingoto, a remote and lesser-known Inca town. These mysterious and secluded ruins include cave-like stone homes and a Spanish colonial church. Pichingoto is where this full-day experience comes to a close as we hop in the vehicle and make our way back to Cusco.

Stay tuned for the rest of the top ten hikes around Cusco next week!

Want to add one or more of these to your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Family Travel, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Trekking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ten Thousand Star Hotel: The Skylodge

Picture this: you wake up in a plush bed to a 300-degree view of the rolling green hills, snowcapped mountains, sprawling blue skies, and rushing rivers of Peru. Now, what if I were to tell you, this could be you. Everyone is always searching for a unique way to travel and enjoy once-in-a-life time experiences. Look no further. Satisfy all your “travel goals” with one little trip. Meet the only suspended lodge in the world: The Skylodge Adventure Suites. This exclusive lodge is located in the Sacred Valley and makes for the ideal excursion from Cusco.

The transparent capsules are suspended 400 meters (1,200 feet) above ground, nestled into a mountain rock face. Handcrafted out of aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate, you can rest assured these clear pods are safe and secure. Each suite is complete with four beds, a dining area, and a bathroom. (And yes, you can even see the incredible views from the bathroom!). The pods are large and can comfortably accommodate up to eight people. Making it the perfect excursion for the whole family, a group of friends, or a perfect date night! Come eye to eye with massive condors, the predators native to the Sacred Valley. Sit in awe as the sun sets and allows the night sky to take over. The dark sky is littered with stars, including the impressively bright Milky Way constellation. That’s why they call it the ten thousand-star hotel!

Half of the adventure is getting to the incredible lodge. There are three thrilling ways to reach the transparent pods. You may choose to climb 300 meters on a via ferrata path, a path with permanent safety equipment installed such as steel ladders and bridges. Each person is attached to the steel cable that runs through the entire course. This gives people with no experience of rock climbing the opportunity to taste the thrill, without the fear of falling. The second option to reach the lodge is via a zip-line. Beginning with a 30-minute walk to reach the first of seven lines, each individual will soar above the Sacred Valley like the condors that share the sky. Every line of the course is unique, offering a different view of the Sacred Valley below. The final option is a combination of the two, via ferrata and zip-line.

After the excitement of climbing to reach the Skylodge, you are rewarded with pure luxury and million-star views. Enjoy fine dining in the sky with a savory dinner, complete with wine. Wake up to the beautiful morning light and indulge in a hearty breakfast before making your way back down. This trip perfectly encompasses adventure, beauty, thrill, and romance.The thousand-star hotel awaits.

Want to experience the Sky Lodge for yourself? Contact us!

Check out our itineraries and other blogs about this incredibly unique experience as well as our videos:

2-Day Via Ferrata/Zip Line/Sky Lodge in the Sacred Valley

Peru’s Craziest Hotels

NEW VIDEO: Via Ferrata + Sky Lodge + Zip-line Adventure (Sacred Valley, Peru)

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Peru, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camino – Top Sites in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago means it is time to celebrate your Camino de Santiago Trek completion! There is so much to see and do in Santiago, it is worth spending an extra few days to explore this lovely UNESCO Heritage city. The top 6 sites in Santiago are

  1. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
  2. Obradoiro Plaza (area around the Cathedral)
  3. San Francisco Church and Convent
  4. Rua do Franco Street (Restaurant Row)
  5. Santiago Food Market
  6. Alameda Park

1) Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral is beautiful to behold — inside and out. Inside the Cathedral, there is a Pilgrim ritual:

  1. In the entryway is a pillar with St. James. Touch the pillar and say a prayer.
  2. On the other side of the pillar is a figure of the stonemason Mateo. Knock 3 times on his forehead to receive wisdom from the master.
  3. Behind the altar, climb stairs to embrace the gilded statue of St. James. Chances are this will be a long line, but it moves relatively quickly.
  4. Then descend to the crypt where the relics of St. James are in a silver crypt.
  5. Attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at noon

2) Obradoiro Plaza (area around the Cathedral)

Then walk all the way around the outside of the Cathedral to see all the area has to offer.

  • Obradoiro Plaza – This is the plaza right outside the Cathedral. Pilgrims gather to celebrate, take pictures, and relax. It is a fun place to hang out day and night.
  • Cathedral Museum (and roof) – Definitely worth a visit to see the ceilings up close and look down on the plaza from the roof.
  • Parador – This was the Royal Hospital, but now is a 5-star hotel (to the left).
  • Fonseca Palace (to the right)
  • Platerias Plaza (to the right and behind)
  • Quintana Plaza (behind) – This is a very lively plaza with restaurants, music, and jugglers. Be sure to look for the Hidden Pilgrim shadow at night! The Holy Door (or Door of Forgiveness) dates back to the 17th Century. The luggage storage service is on the corner.

3) San Francisco Church and Convent

As you face the Cathedral, follow the street to the left. This is where the Pilgrim’s Mass is being held while the Cathedral is being renovated. An amazing church in itself!


4) Rua do Franco Street (Restaurant Row)

This street goes from the Cathedral towards Alameda Park and lined with lovely outdoor and indoor restaurants and bars. All the narrow windy streets around the Cathedral area offer an amazing selection of dining options!


5) Santiago Food Market

Stalls of fruit, vegetables, fish, meats, cheese, local bread, wine, and gift items. The market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 7am until 3pm. Saturday is the busiest day, and enjoying lunch at one of the many restaurants is a highlight.


6) Alameda Park

Large, beautiful park with a church and fountains. Great for walking around on a sunny day and getting great pictures back at the Cathedral. Walk down Rua do Franco Street from the Cathedral, and it is across the street.

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