With eco-tourism taking off in the last decade, governments, communities, NGOs and private companies have been finding different ways to ensure that development unfolds with minimal impact, while also improving the lives of local people. For Natura Vive, a Peruvian adventure company based in Cuzco Valley, a less impactful way for visitors to enjoy the incredible views was to construct three transparent pods, suspended 400 feet above the valley floor as accommodations, accessible only after climbing up 1,400 iron rungs ("via ferrata") set into the steep mountain face. Check out this short video of this unique experience via Contemporary Nomads:
Made out of aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate, the 24 feet by 8 feet Skylodge Adventure Suites offer stunning panoramic views of the valley below, and are equipped with composting toilets set up in a separate section of the pods (the company calls them "toilets with a view," built for maximum panoramas but still private).
Each unit has six windows and four ventilation ducts to give the interior a comfortable atmosphere, and lighting is provided by solar-powered lamps.
Though it's a kind of adventure hotel -- built, owned and operated by two entrepreneurs who are also avid climbers -- there's a lot of little luxuries here: the pods have comfortable beds and pillows, and you can get a pre-cooked dinner and a bottle of wine, brought up by the accompanying guide. After spending the night, if the winds are not too strong, breakfast can be taken on a platform above the pods. Guests then descend from the heights by hiking and ziplining down.
When seen from far away, the three capsules almost blend into the rock.
Some may argue that even a minimalist operation like this isn't very eco-friendly, and that eco-tourism itself is a paradox, due to the high carbon footprint of air travel (though one could potentially offset that by going vegetarian). And when eco-tourism is done in concert with local communities, there does seem to be benefits. In any case, it seems that this operation does try to remain relatively light-footed as an adventure destination -- suspended hundreds of feet in the air, these modules provide people a way to appreciate the majestic mountains, without the major impact of a conventional, wasteful hotel block or a road going up. Find out more on Natura Vive.