FIVE FAQS ABOUT HIGH ALTITUDE IN PERU

By Allie E. Almario

Peru - high altitude valley

At Premier Tours, we are very proud to provide all of our travelers with up-to-date information to make sure your preparations for your adventure goes perfectly. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we are asked about high altitude and general travel documents:

1.  What is the altitude in the different cities throughout Peru?

We will always ask you in advance if you have any issues with altitude sickness so that we can plan your trip accordingly. We will always pace the trip to make sure you acclimate slowly to avoid any complications. For your information, keep this info handy as you think about your itinerary:

Cusco – 10,500 ft

Sacred Valley – 8,850 ft (includes Ollantaytambo)

Machu Picchu – 7,970 ft

Arequipa – 7,500 ft

Colca Canyon – 11,800 ft (note that you may drive through mountain passes that are as high as 16,000 ft before arriving at the canyon)

Puno / Lake Titicaca – 12,560 ft

2. What kind of precautions should I take to avoid altitude sickness?

As always, it’s best to check in with a licensed doctor or medical professional before departing on any international trips.  They’ll offer advice based on your personal medical history, especially if you have a history of cardiac issues or high blood pressure.  While you are actually at high altitude, the most common recommendations are to drink lots of bottled water and “mate” herbal teas and others like chamomile tea and rest as much as possible upon arrival. Light meals, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, are also good tips.

3. What are the most common symptoms of altitude sickness?

Initial symptoms include light headaches, feeling tired, or feeling slightly out of breath with exertion. This is quite normal for those people arriving at high altitude and the symptoms should dissipate within a day or two. More serious symptoms will be dizziness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and loss of appetite. If you feel worse, it’s best to ask your guide to help you seek assistance.

4. If I do develop altitude sickness, what happens next?

We do hear of occasional cases of altitude sickness, usually due to travelers ignoring the practical advice recommended above, or perhaps their level of fitness is not up to par to the trip.

The best cure is to get the traveler to a lower elevation. Our Peruvian guides have a lot of experience with dealing with different complications and they know how to handle medical situations. They will evaluate the situation and treat you accordingly, either by giving a first aid treatment or bringing you down to a safe location at a lower elevation.  Guides are trained to communicate the situation to our office as well, so if needed, they are prepared to call a doctor to visit you as soon as possible. Sometimes the doctor will just recommend that you take the afternoon off, receive a bit of oxygen treatment, and relax. We’ll be happy to coordinate any changes to your itinerary if need be.

5. After reading all of this info, do I really need to worry about altitude sickness?

Because of the way we design our itineraries, the chances of you experiencing altitude sickness is quite low, especially if you let us know in advance if you have had a history of problems in the past with it.  Just follow our recommendations, and you should be able to avoid it!

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