Trains aren’t a common sight in South America, or at least, they aren’t now. Gone are the days when Paul Theroux could take trains all the way from Boston to Patagonia. There is, however, one notable exception – the train that ferries passengers, for a not inconsiderable sum, from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo (or Aguas Calientes as it’s better known). That is not the last stop though, Hidroelectrica is. If you’re looking for a little something special and off the beaten path, the tiny nearby town of Santa Teresa has it.
Eco Quechua Lodge is what you’d expect from the name. It’s an eco lodge, in the Quechua level of the Peruvian mountains. It is also home to an authentic Andean sauna, Jacuzzi, a fantastic restaurant and all the perks of a high quality eco lodge.
It is constructed to look like the treehouse of every child’s dreams, but this child thought of monsoon showers, running hot water and Wi-Fi (although arguably a child nowadays would probably think of Wi-Fi).
Treehouses have always held a magical appeal to us and this eco-lodge is a wonderful place to get back to nature and relax. The lodge is built with native wood in a jungle setting on the outskirts of the town and really does manage to blend with the riverside setting and the lush rainforest that surrounds the area.
The Treehouse Room
We made ourselves at home in our room at the very top of the treehouse. Our room offered a rustic luxury experience and we spent our time relaxing on the giant bed covered in alpaca rugs and sitting outside in the beautiful communal areas. Our room had a private balcony and both the room and bathroom are open so you can gaze down the valley while you shower.
The lodge is owned and run by a local married couple Janet and Kike and the staff are extremely friendly and welcoming, catering to every request or question with an obvious delight and genuine passion for what they were doing. Kike is often on site, ferrying travellers around, to and from town and just generally ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as it can.
The Dining Room
The lodge offers a delicious choice of pancakes or eggs for breakfast served with local bread, fresh tropical juices and tea. In the evenings, you can tell them in advance if you would like to have dinner there. We enjoyed dinner on both nights and the traditional Andean food was exquisite. We ate our three-course dinners by candlelight, including a soup, main course and small dessert, there are also some delicious Peruvian wines on offer. The set menu costs 30 Soles per person.
The restaurant continues the theme of local wood and also has a very good bar, should you want to while away the warm Andean evenings drinking pisco sours, local beer or wine.
What to Do
The lodge offers massages (with advance notice) and also has a Jacuzzi and traditional Andean sauna to work up a sweat. The sauna really is unique – its inside looks like the world’s smallest tradition Andean home, and is then insulated by palm fronds and more traditional wood, while the burner in the middle of the hut rapidly heats the space and ensures you sweat out any grime you’ve picked up from hiking.
When you’re ready to cool off or rehydrate, there is some refreshing fresh lemonade waiting for you and the Jacuzzi offers a cool relief after the heat of the sauna and ensuring you get the desired hot-cold-hot-cold exfoliating effect.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more energetic after your trek, and still have the legs for it, there is more hiking to be done in the surrounding area and also, we were told, excellent bird watching and wildlife.
Should you want to just continue relaxing, like us, you can visit the Cocalmayo hot springs, which are not only dirt cheap, but also in a beautiful location and very well set up. We almost had the place to ourselves when we were there and enjoyed moving between the varying temperatures of pool, all of which are the size of a decent swimming pool. There’s also a funny, tiny pool between two of the larger pools that is worth it for the novelty. It barely fits one normal sized person, so be prepared to get cosy!
How to Get There
From Cusco, you can either take a bus directly to Santa Maria, which takes around six hours and will cost you around 50 Soles and then another smaller bus from there to Santa Teresa, or you can take a less direct route via the railway from Ollantaytambo, or Aguas Calientes and continue on the train until Hidroelectrica, where it does terminate. From there, either take a taxi, or a shared minibus to Santa Teresa. You will pass the lodge on your way there, so if you’re in a minibus, just ask them to drop you off. It’s at the bottom of the hill up to Santa Teresa, just before you cross the river.
If you’re like us, the journey will seem like you’re disappearing off into the depths of the Peruvian Andes and have no real idea of where you’re going, but rest assured, there’s a decent sized town ahead and an excellent lodge awaiting you.
Eco Quechua is well worth a visit if you are in the area and in need of a little luxury and comfort after any trekking you’ve done, or just if you fancy getting away from things for a bit and relaxing in a beautiful place.
Double rooms start from $44 per night. To book visit Eco Quechua Lodge.