Altitude Sickness in Cusco
You have probably heard or read several places that you should adjust for altitude in Cusco before taking off on the classic Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek or Rainbow Mountain trek. This is probably the number one thing to know before traveling to Cusco because it’s no joke.
I lived in Vail, Colorado for several years, which is at an elevation of 8,000 feet and never experienced altitude sickness like when I first arrived in Cusco. Cusco sits just above 11,000 feet or 3,400 meters for my non-American friends.
This means that the first day you arrive in Cusco should not be more than acclimatization. You should drink a lot of water and rest. Even walking up and down the streets of Cusco will take your breath away, especially when you have luggage in tow.
Depending on how you travel, I would recommend getting your first night’s accommodation figured out. In this way, when you arrive in the city, you can go directly to your accommodation and give your body the rest it needs.
Here are some tips to help prevent/treat altitude sickness.
Coca leaves are a traditional way to relieve altitude sickness by chewing them or making tea with them. Coca leaves can be purchased at any local supermarket and are available at most restaurants.
- Sorojchpills are pills that you can buy at the local pharmacy that help with altitude sickness.
- Muna: It is a herb that can be found in the mountains. You can pick it up, rub it on your hands and inhale it. Or put it in tea and drink it. It is also digestive.
- Allow 24-36 hours of acclimatization before setting out on a hike.
- Gradually ascend.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
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