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Avoid altitude sickness??

Stockholm
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Avoid altitude sickness??

Hi everyone!

I might go to Macchu picchu this spring (finally). But I have a few questions about avoiding altitude sickness.

Which is best?

1. Go straight from Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo and sleep there before continuing to MP next day?

2. Stay 1-2 nights in Cusco to get used to the height?

-----

How fast will ALS strike you?

I mean if you feel sick direct you get off the plane it might be better to sleep in cusco ..

Edited: 1:56 pm, April 02, 2012
Scranton...
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1. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

Better to spend 2 nights in cusco on my experience.

Drink a lot of water!

Michigan
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2. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

Hello Erik,

have you read the TA altitude sickness article? It's in the section of Top questions about Peru; also check the general Peru forum and do a search for "altitude sickness". There are dozens of threads and a couple of them are really long.

MP is actually at a lower altitude than Cusco or Sacred Valley. Some people spend the first night in the Sacred Valley (e.g. Ollantaytambo) and then move up to Cusco.

Yorktown, Virginia
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3. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

I agree with MayFlower --

#1 is your best option unless you are trekking the Inca Trail.

Going first to Ollantaytambo & then to Machu Picchu will lessen the possibility of altitude sickness, as they are both lower than Cusco. By the time you get to Cusco (after Olly & MP), you will likely have acclimatized somewhat.

Victoria BC
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4. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

We are in Cusco right now. We spent 8 days in Ollantaytambo and went to MP from Ollanta on the 4th day. We found staying in Ollanta much better than Cusco because it's lower (as is MP).

The biggest tip I can give is eat a big breakfast, a medium size lunch and little or no dinner. We found this made a tremendous difference. I'm usually a big eater, but I have found that food stays with me much longer here, so that after breakfast at 8 or 9 we weren't hungry again until about 2:30 or 3. One person told us that digestion is much slower at altitude.

Anyway, that's our experience, for what it's worth.

Edited: 4:26 pm, April 02, 2012
Umeå
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5. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

Hej !

The chance of coming down with AMS is individual and impossible to predict , but revolves a lot around rapid ascents in the 3000-4000 meters range :

* no one gets AMS at 2000 meters - this is the altitude you´ll stay at after visiting Macchu Pichu , which is 2400-ish.

* a lot of people get early stages of AMS when flying in to , and staying overnight , at Cusco ( 3400 ) and other like locations - my experience comes mainly from Leh. Think different shades of hangover , in a few cases worse than that. The best option is to avoid this , and have a first night just over 2000 meters - Arequipa is close to ideal.

* If you go directly to Cusco and stay overnight the ( strong ) recommendation from specialists in the field is to medicate with Diamox , unless you are allergic to sulfa drugs. Not a magic bullet , but it will speed up acclimatization to altitude. Excellent background info at http://korta.nu/cdcalt , not only on the medication issue.

* Going down to Ollantaytambo for the first night makes a lot of difference , but a few still get sick on a first night @ 2800 meters : this is a borderline case for medicating ( " benificial and should be considered " , to quote CDC ) .

* Dehydration can also like AMS give headaches , mainly from the higher urine output at altitude. This is easily avoided by increasing fluid intake around one liter. Binging on plain WATER on the other hand is a classic way of causing exactly the same symtoms as severe altitude sickness , at any altitude :

" In reality you only need an additional liter to a liter and a half of water at altitude. Too much water is harmful and can dilute your body's sodium levels (hyponatremia) causing weakness, confusion, seizures, and coma."

( altitudemedicine.org/index.php/altitude-medi… )

See also http://korta.nu/myths

Edited: 6:34 am, April 03, 2012
Stockholm
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6. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

ok, Thanks for all answers.

So is it the night that is the worst part of AMS?

I mean if you get it as soon you step off the plane, it might be hard to stand a 1,5 hour ride to Ollantaytambo.

Or is it at night where you get most "syndroms" ?

Edited: 3:51 pm, April 03, 2012
Yorktown, Virginia
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7. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

Generally, AMS symptoms are worse at night. I think it has something to do with how your breathing changes during sleep (more shallow) -- and you have more trouble oxygenating well until you are acclimatized.

I doubt if you will feel it immediately upon stepping off the plane. We found the car ride from the Cusco Airport (with a stop at the Wanchaq train station) to Urubamba (where we were staying) was not too difficult. We were tired -- especially since we had flown overnight to Lima & on to Cusco -- but we were just riding in a car, when it really doesn't matter because all you have to do is sit. We did take a long nap upon arrival at our lodging, the Kuychi Rumi in Urubamba.

I think some people get overly ambitious & plan to tour important sites in the Sacred Valley on the way to Ollantaytambo or Urubamba that first day, instead of just going directly to their hotel.

Umeå
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8. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

Oxygen saturation is lowest at night because of the horizontal position : we are designed for the upright position. This is why when you travel at high altitude you´ll often have lower oxygen saturation at night in a lower camp than at your max altitude.

9. Re: Avoid altitude sickness??

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