Have you always dreamed of a holiday to Peru? Do you want to experience the Inca City of Machu Picchu? Would you like to go to Machu Picchu with the kids? Do you wonder what the best time to go to Machu Picchu for your Peru holidays? There are many things you need to consider when thinking about your next holiday to this wonderful South American country, but have you given any thought to the altitude and how this will affect you and your family on your tour?
In this article, we will give you some helpful hints and tips on how to prepare yourself for the altitude and how to prevent altitude sickness spoiling your holiday.
Firstly, what is altitude sickness? Altitude sickness, also known as Soroche in Peru, can occur at altitudes of 8000 feet (2800 meters) above sea level or above, this is caused by insufficient oxygen in the blood and can cause nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. People say that the feeling is equal to having a hangover, so equally you will need to drink a lot of fluid if effected. Anyone can suffer from altitude sickness, it does not matter your fitness level, age, or your weight so it is a good idea to rest and drink plenty of fluids when you arrive at altitude.
You may notice the first day or so when you are at an altitude that you may experience loss of appetite and food takes longer to digest, this is why you should not have a large meal while you are in altitudes so take it easy on the food when you first arrive.
How to prevent altitude sickness? The only true away to prevent it is to gradually go from sea level to high altitude, but if you do not have the luxury of time then there are ways to help prevent the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Some great advice is to stay hydrated, drink at least two bottles of water a day, drink warm tea that all the hotels provide in the reception. Take advantage of this free tea, as it will help you greatly. The first few days avoid alcohol and drink water instead, alcohol will not help you stay hydrated, when you have been at altitude for a few days then you may indulge in the vast array of cocktails and other alcoholic beverages on offer.
Try to reduce physical exercise when you first arrive in the highlands of Peru, take it easy and try to walk slowly, listen to your body if you feel tired rest, if you feel short of breath, stop and take a rest.
If you plan to do some hard trekking while in the Cusco region of Peru, it is a great idea to train and get some level of fitness before you leave home. Go for long walks with a heavy backpack, you may not be at altitude, but any form of exercise will help you before your trek.
When thinking about what you are going to eat at the altitude remember that big meals are not advised for the first few days that you are in Cusco. It is good to remember that carbs will help your body to adjust to the altitude, but only in small portions, foods like potatoes, pasta, and bread are great sources of carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier in the article you must drink lots of water and coca tea, this will help you greatly with the effects of altitude sickness.
Before leaving home talk to your doctor about medication for altitude sickness, your physician will recommend some medicine to bring with you on your Peruvian holiday. Your doctor will advise you to start taking your medication at least one day before you visit Cusco city.
If you arrive into Cusco and start feeling the effect of the altitude and have no medicines with you, most pharmacies will have medicine, most likely in tablet form, so keep this in mind, a tip is to always make sure the tablets have not been tampered with and the packaging is in tack. If you have a bad case you may need to go to a local doctor, hospital, or clinic, there are many good clinics available to you, just enquire at the reception of your hotel.
When thinking about your hotel in Cusco and are worried about altitude sickness, there are a few four and five-star hotels that have oxygen available to be pumped into your room at an additional cost. These hotels include the Monasterio, Casa Cartagena, Hotel Liberator, the Inkaterra, and the Novotel to name just a few. All the hotels in the Cusco have oxygen tanks in the reception so if you think you need some air all you have to do is ask.
However, please do not let the fear of altitude sickness ruin your holiday, most people do not get it, some just experience a small headache. It is impossible to predict, but if you are sensible, you are less likely to suffer from the effects.
Relax and enjoy your Peruvian holiday, something to cross off the bucket list and take home memories to share with your family and friends.