Altitude in Peru
During your travels in Peru you will visit tourist sites that lie at over 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level and you will need to take adequate precautions in order to avoid altitude sickness.
Problems due to altitude can manifest themselves also in perfectly healthy subjects. In most case when reaching high altitudes you will suffer from a slight headache. In more serious cases you can experience vomiting, vertigo, lack of appetite, insomnia or in severe cases complications may arise and even cause cerebral oedema.
What can be done to avoid unpleasant surprises?
The most effective remedy is to reach high altitudes gradually. For this reason the most suitable route to visit the Andes and Machu Picchu is taking the route that goes from Nazca to Arequipa (2,400 meters – 7,874feet), stopping two days in the White City and then going up on the Andes where altitudes can reach above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet).
Once you have reached a high altitude we advise you make slow movements, avoid alcoholic drinks and smoking and do not take sleeping tablets. The Andean people’s advice is to use the traditional method of drinking mate de coca. This is an infusion of coca leaves which is legal in Peru. It is vital to drink plenty of water. As far as food goes, we advise you not to overeat and to mainly eat pasta, potatoes and break which are easily digestible.
From the medical standpoint, we advise the use of Acetazolamide (known under the name of Diamox). You should take one or two tablets (125 gr or 250 gr) 24 hours before your arrival at high altitude, and then continue for a further 48 hours once you are at your destination. Side effects can be increased urination, nausea, tingling. Acetazolamide cannot be taken by pregnant women.