Exploring Peru’s Explora Lodge
A fertile valley abundant with archeological gems, enchanting vistas and high adrenaline activities; Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Inca’s is a must visit region for the adventurous traveler. Nestled in a secluded part of the Sacred Valley and surrounded by verdant corn fields, the Explora Lodge is an ideal base from which to explore the area. Paul Jones, Managing Director and Founder of Totally Latin America was recently invited to visit the Sacred Valley Explora Lodge and review the facility.
Explora Lodges (Some Background)
The Explora Lodge and its family of similar lodges originates from Chile. Over the years the brand has gained global recognition for it’s focus on high-end adventure. The success of the brand has seen it expand into Argentina, Bolivia and now into Peru. As a brand from Latin America, it is widely unknown in North America and Europe.
Plans for Peru’s Explora Lodge started some 8 years ago with the purchase of land close to the traditional village of Urcos, roughly in the middle of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Initial construction plans were halted by the discovery of Inca and pre-Inca agricultural terraces, but after extensive archeological excavations had been undertaken and preservation plans put in place the lodge was finally completed a couple of years ago. Now a fully established and proven lodge, Peru’s Explora lodge receives hundreds of visitors annually and offers a unique way to explore the Sacred Valley and its attractions.
High-end Adventure Travel
The Explora Lodge offers a unique service designed specifically for the high-end adventure traveler. This all-encompassing experience is intended for travelers that really want to disconnect from their daily lives and re-connect with their adventurous spirit, whilst discovering the best the Sacred Valley has to offer. The concept of the lodge is to offer a complete service tailored to guests needs, which includes all meals, accommodations and daily guided excursions. Guests discuss their likes and aims for the stay with the team of onsite adventure guides and excursions are recommended to suit. Stays of 3 nights minimum are recommended so that guests have time to acclimate whilst getting the most out of the lodge and area. Longer stays of 5-6 nights or more are common and allow time to incorporate some of the more unique excursions and visits to further afield attractions such as Cusco and Machu Picchu.
The Lodge & Accommodations
Peru’s Explora Lodge was designed by José Cruz Ovalle and is in-keeping with the designs of many of its other sister lodges. The contemporary design is built largely from wood sourced locally (and responsibly) from the Puerto Maldonado region of Peru. With lofty roofs and panoramic views out to the campo, the main building houses the reception, comfortable relaxation areas, meeting areas (to prepare for excursions) and the restaurant/bar. Accommodations consist of 44-Standard Rooms (430 feet sq) and 6-Suites (570 feet sq) which flank the main building in a total of 4-blocks. Rooms are well-appointed and comfortable with all the modern facilities you need. Each room features either a king bed or two-standard twin beds, a seating area plus a jetted bath tub to sooth away the aches and pains after a day of hiking. The hotel and rooms were designed with expedition and adventure in mind, so although comfortable, the hotel is definitely more functional than plush. If you are looking for all out luxury, then this hotel is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for a comfortable and homely base for exploring that offers everything you need in a no-hassle non-fussy sort of way, the Explora Lodge is definitely for you.
Activities from the Lodge
The Explora Lodge offers 30 different excursions from its base in the Sacred Valley. A couple of large wall maps located in the lobby offer a detailed overview of the Sacred Valley and excursions available. Activities are rated in difficulty and length, so you can decide which ones will suit you best. Guides meet with guests on arrival and in the evenings to discuss the activities that guests wish to undertake. Adventure activities include half-day or full-day hikes and mountain-biking. More traditional archeological and cultural tours are also available to nearby places like Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Moray, Maras and Pisac. Day excursions also extend further afield to the City of Cusco and of course to the citadel of Machu Picchu. All entrance fees, transport and lunches are included.
In Peru the choice of accommodations is simply staggering. Over the last 10 years or so, I have visited just about all of them related to tourism. The Sacred Valley Explora Lodge is without doubt one of the better ones and comes highly recommended by me. If you are looking for out and out luxury this lodge is probably not the right choice for you. However, if you are a high-end adventurous traveler and want to meet other like-minded people whilst discovering Peru’s Sacred Valley, then this is definitely for you.
I really like the location of the Explora Lodge. Its remote location surrounded by agricultural fields and imposing mountains is simply stunning. It is a relaxing place to spend a few days and will certainly have you contemplating a simpler life for yourself – don’t be surprised to see a local farmer tilling a field with a donkey and a plough. I like the easy-going approach to the onsite excursions and I like the uniqueness of them. The whole concept of exploring during the day, relaxing in comfortable expedition style lodging in the evening and meeting other like-minded people is certainly appealing to me.
Although the lodge is highly appealing to me, I did feel there were a few things that could have been improved. I felt that the Standard Rooms (44 of the 50 rooms) were a little small considering that the lodge was purpose built for comfort. For this reason, I would recommend going for the one of the 6 Suites, though quite an expensive up-grade. The rooms also don’t cater for triple bed arrangement – only a small child’s bed can be included – which could be an issue for family travel. It is also worth noting that the WIFI signal doesn’t extend to the accommodations and there are no televisions in the rooms. For many guests this probably isn’t a big deal, but if like me you like to stay connected (I can hear you all sighing now) this could be a frustration. I also am a little unsure of the overall look of the lodge. From the outside the long rooming blocks seemed a little stark (almost like a fancy prison block) and perhaps are not in-keeping with the local area. From a pricing stand-point the Explora Lodge is certainly not cheap. You might get sticker shock with the basic 3-nights package starting from a little under US$ 2,000 per person. However, if you factor in that all excursions, meals and accommodations are included, then the price could be just about justifiable (just about). Remember that at TLA Travel we have specially contacted rates with the lodge, which are more beneficial to you, especially if combined with a longer more comprehensive tour of Peru. Overall, I would highly recommend the Explora Lodge. You’ll certainly come away feeling satisfied with your choice and experiences in the Sacred Valley.
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