It is estimated that around half a million people visit Machu Picchu each year. Inca ruins are on the bucket list of most world travelers and should be on yours. So, how high is Machu Picchu? You may be thinking. And the ruins are located in the Andes Mountains in Peru, and as you can imagine, the site is high up. Not many travelers usually take the altitude of Machu Picchu seriously, but it is something you have to take very seriously. You are most likely coming from a lower altitude place, so you are not sure how it will affect you. Therefore, together with Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article where we dwell on the question of how high is Machu Picchu.
No matter how fit you are, you don’t know how altitude sickness will affect you. You may have run a marathon, but that won’t matter if you suffer from the effects of the altitude. The archaeological site of Machu Picchu is surrounded by a mountainous landscape. Therefore it is obvious to assume that it is in the middle of the heights. But… How high is Machu Picchu? Everyone knows Machu Picchu, but not many know its sacred location. That is why it is very important to know about the altitude of Machu Picchu and its sacred sites.
All you need to know about how high is Machu Picchu
- The altitude of Machu Picchu
- Cusco’s altitude
- Peru: a mountainous country
- Preparing for the height
- What to expect from the height
THE ALTITUDE OF MACHU PICCHU
First of all, how high is Machu Picchu above the sea? The archaeological complex of Machu Picchu stands at an elevation of 7,972 feet high. This means that it is located about 2430 meters above sea level. The altitude of the Inca citadel does not compare with that of the city of Cusco, which is at a much higher altitude. But due to the Machu Picchu pictures and perspectives, the Inca citadel appears to be much higher. The citadel is located in the middle of the mountains and can seem much higher than other places around it. But this is due to the steep mountains that are around the Inca site. The mountain of Huayna Picchu that is in the background of the citadel can give you a better perspective. This peak is about 8,923 feet high, that is, about 2,720 feet above sea level.
The mountain of Huayna Picchu is the iconic peak found behind all the photos of the Inca citadel. Although there is also Machu Picchu Mountain, another of the peaks that offer wonderful views of the site. Both mountains are quite high and can give us an idea about how high is Machu Picchu. The two mountains can be climbed on beautiful hiking trails. But these must be reserved in advance next to the entrances to the citadel. The mountain of Machu Picchu is about 10111 feet high, that is, about 3082 meters above sea level. So it is located about 650 meters above the Inca citadel.
And is Machu Picchu higher than Cusco? To your surprise, Machu Picchu is not higher than the city of Cusco. If you were surprised by how high is Machu Picchu, then you have to wait to get to know Cusco. So, What is the elevation of Cusco? The city of Cusco is located at an altitude of about 11152 feet, that is, about 3399 meters above sea level. It is the third-highest city in all of Peru, so it is quite common to feel the effects of altitude sickness on this site. It is in Cusco where most visitors usually feel the unpleasant effects of altitude sickness. Anyone planning to visit Machu Picchu must first pass through the Imperial City of Cusco. And it is necessary to face the high altitude of Cusco before knowing the altitude of Machu Picchu.
From Cusco, you can start your journey to the Inca complex. You can choose to take the wonderful train tour or opt for the challenging Inca Trail. Both are incredible ways to visit the Inca citadel. It is advisable to take a few days to rest before starting your walk, to acclimatize to the altitude. Also, Cusco is a great place to relax and enjoy a rich history and culture. The city is full of great restaurants and bars to keep you busy.
A good tip is not to drink too much alcohol for the first few days, as it worsens the effects of the altitude. Wait for your body to acclimate to start thinking about the delicious Pisco Sours. Some of the symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after entering altitude. And they usually improve a day or two later, when your body adjusts to the change.
PERU: A MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY
No matter what part of the Andes you plan to visit, you have to keep in mind the altitude of the place where you will go. Something that you will not be able to avoid seeing are the wonderful steep Andean landscapes and their steep valleys. These landscapes are characteristic of the Peruvian Andes. And it is not surprising that the fascinating sights attract tourists and travelers from all over the world. Despite this, traveling to high places requires a bit of preparation. Especially if you are looking to enjoy the many things to do in Machu Picchu. Because the citadel is precisely in the middle of the heights.
And before knowing how high is Machu Picchu, it is vital to know about the mountainous landscape of our country. Peru’s varied geography can make traveling around the country somewhat difficult. But despite this, there are incredible places full of tourist attractions to visit. A great example of this is the wonderful Imperial City of Cusco. Cusco is not only known for being the starting point to travel to the citadel, but also for its endless activities in the heights.
PREPARING FOR THE HEIGHT
Now that we know how high is Machu Picchu, we are a little more aware of what awaits us in the heights. And for your tour to Machu Picchu, you have to make sure you are prepared. And is altitude sickness a problem in Machu Picchu? Yes, especially for those travelers who have never been in high-altitude areas. It is essential to consider acclimatization to the altitude as well as a little physical training. A good idea is to start hiking around your home and train your legs a bit. Training that includes hiking can prepare you for the demanding height of the Inca citadel. But the really important thing is ideal acclimatization. A good way is to take the first days calmly when you arrive in Cusco. If you acclimatize in an ideal way, you will be able to know all the amazing Machu Picchu facts during your tour.
It doesn’t matter if you are a physically fit traveler, the effects of altitude sickness can also strike without warning. You can also choose to travel to lower altitude points, such as the Sacred Valley. At lower altitude sites it can be much easier to acclimatize. Spending some time at the same heights as the citadel will make your body get used to the altitude. The climate of the citadel can also be a bit varied. At one point it may be cold and at another, it may be hot. So when visiting the magical Inca citadel, we recommend bringing a few essentials. Among them, it is a good idea to include a bottle of water, sunscreen, a hat, and a waterproof jacket. More seasoned travelers dress in layers, and as it starts to get warmer they take off some garments.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE HEIGHT
Now that we know how high is Machu Picchu, what can you expect at such heights? Although it does not usually happen to everyone, altitude sickness is a possibility. Altitude sickness occurs at altitudes above 2,400 meters, where air pressure is lower. This occurs when the body has not had enough time to acclimate to the altitude. It is much more frequent in those people who take flights from low altitude sites to higher altitude sites. If you gradually increase the altitude or live in high-altitude areas, your body acclimatizes and adapts naturally.
But if you don’t give your body time to adjust, your body will struggle to get the oxygen it is lacking. Altitude sickness affects people in different ways. Some seem to have no more than a mild headache, while others may have a wide variety of symptoms. It is important to take altitude sickness as a serious issue and thus you will enjoy how high is Machu Picchu.
In general, all of the Machu Picchu tours can last approximately 3 hours. You can learn about an endless number of Inca constructions and their different areas. And once the guided tour is over, you can choose to roam the complex. So you will have enough time to take hundreds of photos.
“NEVER MEASURE THE HEIGHT OF A MOUNTAIN UNTIL YOU REACH THE TOP. THEN YOU WILL SEE HOW LOW IT WAS.”
So how high is Machu Picchu? Well, it is not as high as Cusco. But it is high enough to think about taking precautions for your trip. Take some medicine for altitude from home, it is better to have it than not to have it. It is also advisable to drink plenty of fluids and take it easy the first few days before going to the citadel. A trip to the Inca site is one to cross off the travel list. We hope together with the Machu Travel Peru team to have been helpful. If you want to know more about the tours available in the wonderful Inca citadel, we recommend consulting with our team of qualified advisers. They will be happy to help you organize the trip of your dreams.