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Altitude cusco

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posts: 33
reviews: 17
Altitude cusco


I am looking at a tour that flies to lima on day 1 and then flies to cusco on the morning on day 3.

On day 6 there is an excursion to sacred valley and machu on day 7 returning to cusco after.

Do I need to be concerned about altitude sickness since we fly from lima to cusco. Would diamox be recommended in this situation?

I do have mild asthma but don't use inhalers much these days at all.

I am 49 but somewhat over weight but intend to get fit before I go.

My wife us 48 and in general good health too but takes medicine for underactive thyroid.

I read many comments with different answers and am very confused.

Thanks in advance.

Edited: 7:06 pm, November 11, 2012
Kamloops, Canada
posts: 3,473
reviews: 27
1. Re: Altitude cusco

It is a fair jump going from sea level to 3300 meters in an hour or so. Altitude starts affecting your body around 2500 meters and everyone experiences the reaction differently. Unless youve been to these kinds of altitudes before there no telling how your body will react. Generally if you take it easy and keep hydrated you should be able to manage any discomfort but you should consult with your doctor regarding the altitude and the use of DIAMOX.

Cusco, Peru
posts: 557
reviews: 13
2. Re: Altitude cusco


Article about altitude

Lima, Peru
Destination Expert
for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
posts: 16,321
reviews: 315
3. Re: Altitude cusco

I recommend you read this : tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294311-c15318/Peru:A…

Check with your Doctor at home and if possible take Diamox.

Fredericksburg, VA
posts: 42
4. Re: Altitude cusco

I spoke with my doctor at home about taking diamox. I tell you, the diamox helped greatly! I also drank lots of coca tea. I have honestly never felt better in my life as I did in Cusco! I think it was the diamox, coca tea, altitude combination. l felt energ ized and I felt like my lungs were taking in more oxygen than they do at home.

posts: 33
reviews: 17
5. Re: Altitude cusco

Many thanks for all the replies.

My wife had a doctor's appointment so we spoke about the possibility of diamox. The doctor admitted he didn't know much about it so I showed him the cdc print out I had. He checked the drug data and we left not realising he had written a prescription for my wife for it. Wish I had asked for me too.

The doctor left it to us really but just checked there was no medical reason we couldn't take it. The travel agent said they couldn't advise which is fair enough.

I think I am inclined to take it. I was tempted to maybe try the ones the doctor gave us as a trail run and get some more next year when we go.

Thanks again

posts: 30
reviews: 18
6. Re: Altitude cusco

We are in our mid 50-s and have just returned from Peru and our schedule was pretty similar to yours (UK to Lima to Cusco, a couple of days in Cusco and environs before Sacred valley and MP before returning to Cusco).

We did not take any meds but did drink plenty of coca tea and sucked coca candy sweets every now and then. I dont know what the side effects of Diamox may be, but our preference is not to take medications we don't absolutely need (we are Brits of course!!)

We took it pretty slowly the first afternoon in Cusco and found, as long as you didn't rush things, we got on ok. I was a little short of breath on the first night and found it more comfortable to sleep on my back (using both lungs more I guess), rather than my side. Other half enjoyed untroubled sleep.

I guess our view was that we would sort things out locally if we needed to. You should note that (most?) hotels have oxygen masks available if required to give guests a bit of oxygen if they feel it necessary.

As others have indicated, individuals can react differently to altitude, but in our experience we were able to cope with local remedies/aids and it seemed to us that only a few tourists were significantly impacted by altitude.

The final decision is yours of course. Whatever you decide, we hope you have a great trip...we certainly did!

Little Canfield...
posts: 502
reviews: 201
7. Re: Altitude cusco

I go along with Midlands mooch, take it easy, coca tea as well as candies, keep well hydrated, eat light meals and try to stay off alcohol. We were advised not to drink the tea after 4pm as it would keep us awake.

I had read about altitude sickness before our trip to Peru and was afraid of what we would encounter but were pleasantly surprised by the lack of symptoms! Apart from a headache on day one we were symptom free so were glad we didn't take any unnecessary medication.

We are also mid 50's and have been told that is a lower risk age group for altitude sickness!

Minneapolis, MN
posts: 48
reviews: 59
8. Re: Altitude cusco

My travel itinerary has me going from Lima to Puno. My clinic network has an actual travel clinic. I am so happy that I went. The nurse gave me maps of the country and showed what areas are at risk for different things (malaria, yellow fever, altitude, etc) and talked about how to stay healthy and what symptoms to look for. We got some vaccines and prescriptions for travel diarhea and diamox for the altitude. She warned me that diamox has really nasty side affects and requires that I try it at home before I go so I will know the different between the side affects and that actual alt sickness. I will bring it "just in case" but hope not to have to use it.

I would recommend seeing a doctor if possible before your trip.

Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Palm Desert
posts: 11,403
reviews: 156
9. Re: Altitude cusco

There are many posts about this, and many will also suggest finding a tour that does not spend the first night in Cusco. You probably will feel effects when you first step off the plane, but just walk slowly, and if you can travel to the Sacred Valley you will be a few thousand feet lower to start, and then end the tour back in Cusco.

BTW Machu Picchu is lower than Cusco. Too many people think that they have to acclimatize in Cusco to visit MP. This is only true if you are hiking the Inca Trail. If you are just taking the train, there are many more trains from Ollantaytambo than from Cusco, and you can start out feeling a bit better.

Coca tea has many health benefits, not the least of which is making you feel more energetic.

San Francisco...
posts: 123
reviews: 184
10. Re: Altitude cusco

Honestly, everyone is different and as the article above points out, it does not matter if you are in good health or not. I had a pretty tough time with altitude sickness on my trip and am in fairly good shape (I work out 4 times a week). I would climb maybe half a flight of stairs and feel like I just ran a sprint. I must have some itty bitty lungs but you just never know. Other have had no problem at all. But if I were you, just budget more time with absolutely no plans to allow yourself some time to acclimate. Trust me, it is no fun being on vacation and being nauseous, having insomnia, vomiting, etc. I was taking diamox, drinking coca tea, and lots of water and I was still incapacitated. Just take it easy to make sure you can enjoy your trip as much as possible. Best of luck! :)