How to acclimate to the altitude in Cusco
Inkayni Peru Tours has all the information you need to know.
If you are planning to come to Cusco and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you must do some research in advance. One thing you need to consider is that once in Cusco and Machu Picchu, you can be at risk of getting altitude sickness. Since Cusco is located at an altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 ft), it is common for many visitors to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness.
What is Altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness is a group of symptoms that can strike if you walk or climb to a higher elevation, or altitude, too quickly.
The pressure of the air that surrounds you is called barometric pressure. When you go to higher altitudes, this pressure drops and there is less oxygen available.
If you live in a place that’s located at a moderately high altitude, you get used to the air pressure. But if you travel to a place at a higher altitude than you’re used to, your body will need time to adjust to the change in pressure.
Any time you go above 2,500 meters (8,000 ft), you can be at risk for altitude sickness.
You might have:
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with sleep
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better within a day or two as your body adjusts to the change in altitude.
What to do to reduce the risk of getting altitude sickness:
Here are 5 useful tips that can help you:
- Visit the doctor first
It is highly recommended that visitors with cardiac problems have a check-up prior to their trip.
- Take things easy
It is advisable to take it really easy on the first day and, if possible, rest the first few hours to help the body acclimatize to the altitude.
- Avoid alcohol
Abstain from drink alcohol on the first day in Cusco. A night without partying in this town can be hard, but it is important to remember that walks are long and demanding, especially if you plan to hike the Inca Trail.
- Stay hydrated
The body gets dehydrated quickly in high altitudes. It is recommended you drink lots of water before and during your trip to Cusco.
- Drink Coca Tea
Coca is the best natural medicine to cope with altitude sickness. It was even considered sacred because of its healing powers and is still used in the same way now as it was in the time of the Incas. It is completely safe to drink and a cup or two each day can ease altitude symptoms. Just remember coca is a mild stimulant so don’t go over the top and drink cup loads.
“They say that traveling strengthens the heart because walking new roads makes forget the previous one. —Lito Nebbia”