Firstly, if you have problems with your heart or lungs and you’re planning to visit Cusco (3400m/11200ft), then you must talk to your doctor first and see what medication or treatment you must follow before heading to Peru. Secondly, don’t be scared about altitude sickness, there’s no way to cancel a wonderful trip just because of altitude. In our experience as travel advisers, we can guarantee you to have a memorable trip if you follow these simple recommendations to prevent altitude sickness.
However, let’s understand what the “altitude sickness” is. At high elevations (over 2400 m/8000 ft) there’s less pressure in the air which causes it to be thinner and therefore, the lack of oxygen. So the higher we go, the less oxygen available our bodies receive. Also, Cusco is a highland city (11200 ft/3400m) where certainly you have to be careful, however, Machu Picchu isn’t really very high (2400m/7800 ft), so keep in mind that if you can acclimatize in Cusco, then visiting Machu Picchu will be a piece of cake!
The symptoms that we can have by experiencing the high altitude sickness are:
- Difficulty breathing
Note that every human body reacts differently, in our daily work, we have seen that most of the people experience the symptoms for a very short period as the body acclimatizes. Certainly, people who often smoke or have lung diseases should visit their doctor and see which treatment is the most appropriate for them. That’s why we share our best tips for avoiding the altitude sickness during your trip in Peru.
Tips to avoid altitude sickness in Cusco
- On your arrival date, try to eat very lightly, avoid meats and other heavy meals. Instead, have some bread, fruit or cookies.
- Avoid smoking, since this might not let you breathe properly.
- Drink plenty of water since the altitude dehydrates.
- Upon your arrival try to rest for a while so your body can get used to the altitude.
- Have a coca tea (which is a hot infusion offered by most of the hotels) and avoid doing physical efforts.
- Take easy and walk slowly, don’t try to hike or run.
- Get acclimatized before trekking.
Most of the hotels in Cusco provide free Coca tea upon your arrival. This is a hot drink made with Coca leaves which have great properties that allow your body to get used to the altitude quickly. It doesn’t really have a distinctive taste but helps a lot. On the other hand, try to avoid drinking it at night since you might not be able to sleep properly. Also, if you’re planning to stay in a 3, 4 or 5-star hotel, they will provide you free oxygen in case you need it. Most of them give 30-60 min of free oxygen upon your arrival.
As a bonus, we present you a good ally for fighting the altitude sickness. The Sorojchi pills are also a good remedy to relieve the altitude sickness. These are capsules that will help your body to get used to the altitude, they don’t require a medical prescription. You can easily find it at any pharmacy in the city. It’s recommended taking 1 capsule every 8 hours during your stay in Cusco.
Finally, we would like to encourage you to follow these steps and listen to your body, only you can really take precautions. Again, we invite you to explore Peru and their wonders, go to Machu Picchu Explorer site and start customizing your trip, you will also find more resources & advises for fully enjoy your experience.
We hope to see you soon!