Altitude sickness happens for most people with symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness, tiredness and sometimes vomiting in severe cases. The reason for getting altitude sickness is because of a lack of oxygen and your body uses all of its energy to give out these symptoms.
Cusco is at an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level and Machu Picchu sits at 2400 meters above sea level. Altitude sickness here is bound to hit you sooner or later without the right preparations.
So we have listed 7 Tips To Avoid Altitude Sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu. We believe this will help you have the best adventure of your life!
One of the first things you can do is get used to the altitude change by staying in the Sacred Valley of the Incas for 1-2 days after going to Cusco. The villages in the Sacred Valley are at an altitude below 3000 meters above sea leve. They are not as high as that of Cusco. Because altitude sickness symptoms usually hit within 24 hours for most people, you will be used to the change by the time you are in Cusco.
Sometimes higher altitudes are harder to deal with because it can depend on the age, gender and physical fitness of an individual. For instance, it has been found that elderly people, especially women with cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, hip problems etc should take extra care and go at their own pace when hiking at high altitude regions like Cusco and Machu Picchu.
It is always a good idea to avoid drugs or alcohol 3-4 days before you travel to Cusco or Machu Picchu. This is because even a single glass of vodka or any other liquor can make your altitude sickness symptoms worse! This applies to any sleeping aids too, so make sure to talk to your doctor about this.
Make sure to stay hydrated at all times. Preferably drink at least 3-4 litres per day when you are in Cusco or Machu Picchu. This will help you to avoid altitude sickness symptoms like nausea and dizziness.
One of the most popular natural remedies for altitude sickness is drinking coca tea. It is okay to drink about 1-2 cups per day for mild altitude sickness symptoms. You can also try other natural remedies like drinking ginger tea and using peppermint essential oils.
Oxishots are cans containing about 8 litres of oxygen. You can take buy them in Cusco and also take to Machu Picchu. Understand that it’s mostly the lack of oxygen in the body that makes you all tired and nauseous.
Altitude sickness medications such as Acetazolamide, or Diamox, can be taken 24 hours before you go to a high altitude region to prevent altitude sickness symptoms. However, you have to talk to your doctor about this as they are not given over the counter.