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Cesar Conde


For over 15 years, Cesar has been leading adventure tours across the Peruvian Mountains to include Machu Picchu. Patient and enthusiastic, he enjoys showing others the awe-inspiring Cultural Wonderworld as much as he loves discovering its wonders for himself. As a Mountaineer and Hiker expert, at Tour Leaders Peru Adventure, Cesar is a great storyteller who loves spending evenings around the campfire or dinner table sharing travel tales and making new friends.

Altitude Sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu

Apr 27, 2017 | Peru Travel Blogs | 1 comment

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu

How To Prevent Altitude Sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu. The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is widely regarded for its breathtaking scenery. It is perched on a steep-sided ridge within the Andes Mountains in the South American country of Peru. Thousands of visitors flock each year to this Ancient Wonder of the World to witness its unrivaled beauty. However, the voyage to the top of the Andes presents challenges that can be very costly to those who embark on the journey when one is not adequately prepared.

Machu Picchu sits at nearly 8,000 ft. above sea level, which, combined with the trek up the mountain, results in prime conditions for what is referred to as altitude sickness. Altitude sickness symptoms may include an increased heart rate, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and more. If you were to experience these symptoms in your journey to Machu Picchu, they could result in a canceled trip, or possibly worse. It is essential to take proper precautions before taking off to avoid this.

Several precautions can be taken that will help alleviate some or all symptoms of altitude sickness.

Typically, it is recommended that you allow your body 2-3 days at the new altitude to become properly acclimated. In combination with this, you should also increase your daily water intake to help you replenish your body as it works to become acclimated. As a result, alcohol, and cigarettes should be avoided as they will only interfere with the body’s ability to take in oxygen. Even when these precautions are taken, you may still experience some symptoms of altitude sickness. In this event, many people turn to coca tea as it has been shown to reduce these symptoms.

Coca Tea And Site Effects

Coca tea is made from the coca plant’s dried leaves, which are native to the South American continent. By steeping the dried leaves in hot water, many in the areas surrounding Machu Picchu have used the resulting tea to combat symptoms of altitude sickness. By consuming coca tea, many tourists report feeling less fatigue, fewer headaches, and nausea, all of which are symptoms that can be directly attributed to altitude sickness. Coca tea has become so widely used in the area; for this reason, it has become synonymous with Peruvian Andes themselves!

Visiting Machu Picchu is a goal on many people’s bucket lists, which is why the town of Cusco, Peru sees such a large influx of travelers each year. But for visitors to fully appreciate the beauty that Machu Picchu has to offer, they must take proper precautions when it comes to altitude sickness as it sits over a mile above sea level. These precautions include allowing proper acclimation, increased water intake, and avoidance of alcohol/cigarettes. However, even by taking such preventative measures, one might still experience symptoms of altitude sickness. In such a scenario, they should look towards the local remedy that has withstood the test of time over the centuries, a nice hot cup of coca tea!

Tour Leaders Peru Transper
How To Prevent Altitude Sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu

What Is Cusco’s Altitude? and how to Prevent It

Avoid altitude sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu. Cusco’s altitude is 11,152 ft (3399 m). This blog post contains essential information on how to control altitude sickness in Cusco over 4.600 meters or 3.300 elevation that is the city of Cusco, and what to do if you are dizzy when you have altitude sickness. How can you prevent altitude sickness in Cusco?

NOTE:  If you are hiking around Cusco to Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail 4D/3N, be honest with your tour guide. As local and expert hikers, they can help you manage altitude sickness symptoms when you get sick or dizzy. 

What Is Machu Picchu’s Altitude? Machu Picchu’s altitude is significantly lower at 7,972f (2430m)

Avoid Altitude Sickness in Cusco

We are pretty sure all of this information it’s going to help you avoid altitude sickness prevention hiking around Cusco or Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Don’t miss your trip. Even when the altitude sickness pills scare you, do you know why acetazolamide makes you your fingers numb or makes you pee all the time? Please keep reading and learn why and how to prevent it.

Visit Cusco-Peru! Follow our recommendation to keep learning from this blogpost that we named Avoid Altitude Sickness Cusco and Machu Picchu and hike Peru without any problems. Find your => PERU PACKAGE.

Are you scared? Maybe not, but if you are planning to visit Machu Picchu, there is no option to make a stop in Cusco, which is over 1300f. As an expert hiker, I have been guiding for many years, and I know how afraid tourists are when they arrive in Cusco City.

My last customers got Altitude Sickness. Before his trip to the Salkantay adventure trek, he missed his trip, and I am sorry. What is the Salkantay trek? It is one of the most challenging trips in Cusco. Its highest elevation is over 4600 meters above sea level, but at the same time, it is one of the most beautiful trips around Machu Picchu considered by National Geographic.

Salkantay Trekking Tour 5 Days
Salkantay Glacier – Trek Hiking Tour to Machu Picchu

Researching on Google (How To Avoid Altitude Sickness in Peru)

Most tourists obsessively scoured the internet for altitude sickness treatment, altitude sickness symptoms, altitude sickness medication, pills, pill side effects, altitude sickness Cusco, and avoid altitude sickness in Cusco. But let me tell you something, there is no treatment if you never adjust to it before in the highest elevation. Follow our advice if you have any trip around Cusco if you follow the tour leader’s recommendation, and you will be fine.

I even read a couple of articles about people who miss their trip from altitude problems or complications. This issue almost led them to cancel their trip to Cusco and wasting their money and time.

Peru-Cusco and Machu Picchu are Unique Places Worth at Least One Visit in Your Lifetime

You can never predict altitude sickness; you may not even get it. Physical fitness, age, and gender have no bearing on whether you will get altitude sickness. However, people at higher risk for feeling its effects are those with heart problems or lung problems. Those with sleep apnea may also experience worse issues at high altitudes. If you have a CPAP machine, it is essential to bring this. But first, be sure to check that it is built to operate at high altitude; yes, electronic devices can be affected too!

What is Altitude Sickness? (Or “Mal de Altura, Soroche” as it’s Called in Cusco)

At high elevations—above 4.800 meters or 15,748.0315 feet, Lares trek can be a good example. The air is “thinner,” meaning there is less pressure than at lower elevations, so while the oxygen percentage remains the same, the air is less dense, so each breath you take contains less oxygen than what you usually experience. Your body will react to counteract this change. First, we need to breathe faster and pump blood more rapidly to take in the same amount of oxygen it is accustomed to receiving. For many people, this comes as a shock to the body, causing various symptoms.

Avoid Altitude Sickness in Cusco
Machu Picchu Inca Terraces – lower than Cusco elevation

Symptoms (How to Manage the Altitude Sickness)

  1. Dizziness, Lightheadedness
  2. Headaches
  3. Nausea
  4. Vomiting
  5. Diarrhea or Constipation
  6. Difficulty Breathing
  7. Heart Racing

Important Note (there is not cure how to treat the Hight Elevation In Cusco)

  1. There isn’t a “cure” for altitude sickness, other than descending to an average elevation.
  2. Cusco is at 10,826 feet (3,300 meters). Machu Picchu is significantly lower at 7,545 ft (2,300 m). Altitude sickness generally starts affecting people at 8,000 feet or higher, so Machu Picchu isn’t the potential problem, Cusco is. Everyone who goes to Machu Picchu must pass through Cusco. Flights land here. Buses from Lima stop here.
  3. I am not a doctor. I am a native Cusco. But according to my experience, I have seen many people think about altitude sickness; sometimes, it is a severe problem, and sometimes we don’t have a chance to continue, so we send back customers from the first camping site.
Machu Picchu Altidude

A Real Testimony of One of Our Customers (Bay Area)

I was born in the Bay Area, CA, flat, sea level by Cupertino, and lived there for almost my entire life. Before June 2018, I had never been at altitudes as high as Cusco. Therefore, I felt I was a prime candidate for altitude sickness, although you could never truly predict it. Now I’ve been in Cusco since June, on and off.

I’ve arrived in Cusco three separate times; in other words, I visited here for 12 days, went to Colombia for ten days, came back to Cusco, went to the U.S. for two weeks, and then came back again. Each time I arrive in Cusco, it gets easier to acclimate. The first arrival, I had a pounding headache for five days, though it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t do activities. I think I took Tylenol a couple of times to relieve a headache. I also drank coca tea during my first visit, but haven’t since there’s no proof it works. Thankfully, my symptoms have never been worse than that.

Below this article is the many ways how to treat altitude sickness, Including Natural ways (Coca Leaves)

Take it easy When You Visit Cusco.

This advice is seriously the easiest and most ignored for avoiding altitude sickness. Remember, your body is trying to get accustomed to the lower amount of oxygen it’s getting. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you take it easy the first few days you are in Cusco. Don’t go on hikes or long walks. Please don’t put any excess stress on your body; it’s already working overtime to oxygenate your blood!

Take Deep Breaths

Again, your body is trying to get oxygen, but there is less of it available in each breath. So, take deep breaths to try to get more air in.

Avoid Alcohol on Your First Day 

The reasons for this are debated, but certain studies show that alcohol’s effects are enhanced at high altitudes, i.e., you get drunk more quickly. Also, alcohol may exacerbate the effects of altitude sickness. Hold off on the Pisco Sours for the first couple of days you’re in Cusco.

Drink Plenty of Water

This choice may not alleviate altitude sickness strictly. Still, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between altitude sickness and dehydration, and high elevations tend to be very dry, meaning you need more water for proper hydration.

Do not forget your water container if you are backpacking

Acclimate at a Lower Altitude, and Ascend Slowly

This piece of advice is sometimes hard to follow because it means changing your trip plans. Many people recommend that the second your plane lands in Cusco, you should take the Sacred Valley tour, about an hour outside of Cusco, where the elevation is about 2,000 feet lower. This option allows you to acclimate at a somewhat lower altitude, and then move back up to Cusco when your body is more used to high altitude. The other option is to take extra days before your long trip, such as City Tour, Horse Riding, Sur Circuit, Tipon.

Take Diamox – Altitude Sickness Acetazolamide

In the U.S., Diamox is a prescription drug often used to treat glaucoma; however, it can also treat altitude sickness. It would be best if you took it 24 hours before arriving in Cusco, though, and a side effect of the drug is that you’ll probably need to pee more frequently, not very convenient when you’re traveling. I brought Diamox with me, but have never used it.

Diamox Side Effects Touring In Cusco

Dizziness, lightheadedness, and an increased amount of urine may occur, especially during the first few days as your body adjusts to the medication. Blurred vision, dry mouth, drowsiness, loss of appetite, stomach upset, headache, and tiredness may also occur. If any of these symptoms persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that your benefit is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these implausible but severe side effects occur: increased body hair, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, unusual tiredness, persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain.

  • As soon as you get the effect of Diamox, your articulation and probably your fingers become numb.
  • It makes you pee all the time.
  • The heart beats faster than a typical average.

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1 Comment

  1. Fidel Conde

    Amazing travel blog for everyone is going to Peru mainly to Machu Picchu


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