About Altitude Sickness
It is very common that the high altitude affects most people who come to Cusco, but don’t be discouraged. Not everyone gets altitude sickness. Most people just feel tired and short of breath until they adjust to the altitude. We recommend that you to come to Cusco (3,400 m/11,154 ft) and stay in the city for at least 2 days before your trek to acclimatize.
Altitude sickness affects most people who visit Peru, especially those who are attempting to trek on any of the routes in Cusco.
The city of Cusco is located at a very high altitude of 3,400 m (11,154 ft) and most people come from lower altitude levels and don’t give themselves enough time to acclimatize to the higher altitude in Cusco. They attempt to trek the Inca Trail right away, and this can cause serious altitude sickness.
When you reach an altitude over 2,500 m (8,202 ft) you could start experiencing the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite, nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Pins and needles
- Shortness of breath upon exertion
- Persistent, rapid pulse
- Swelling of hands, feet, and face
Symptoms that may indicate life-threatening altitude sickness include:
Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)
- Symptoms similar to bronchitis
- Persistent dry cough
- Shortness of breath, even when resting
Cerebral Edema (swelling of the brain)
- Headache that does not respond to analgetics
- Unsteady gait
- Gradual loss of consciousness
- Increased nausea
- Retinal haemorrhage
Even people who are extremely fit can suffer from altitude sickness.The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to come to Cusco few days before your trek. This will allow your body to adjust to the difference in altitude.
Other tips on helping to prevent altitude sickness:
- Drink a lot of water.
- Drinking COCA TEA will also help. The leaves of the coca plant contain alkaloids which help to oxygenate your blood.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
- Altitude sickness medication is available and is a good way to help prevent being affected by the altitude. ALWAYS consult your doctor regarding altitude sickness and what medicine to use before you fly to Cusco.
Homeopathic Preventative Remedies:
Some of our trekkers who are allergic to altitude sickness medications have reported having success with the following homeopathic or natural remedies:
- Ginger drops daily
- Garlic drops / tablets
- Lemon drops daily
- Gingko biloba
- Vitamin C
Just remember, when you come to trek in the mountains with us, you will be on holiday. You will trek at your own pace. EVERY STEP YOU TAKE SHOULD TO BE ENJOYABLE. Going slowly will help you to finish any trek and give you time to appreciate the beautiful surroundings of the Andean Mountains.