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Altitude Sickness

Orange Park, Florida
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58 posts
21 reviews
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Altitude Sickness

As we live near sea-level (Florida) we have been warned, by people I trust, to not take altitude sickness lightly. It has been recommended that upon our morning arrival in Cusco we immediately make arrangements to get to Ollantaytambo and sit back and enjoy the local tea. It appears (although no money has yet changed hands) we will need to be back in Cusco the second night in Peru, to be picked up the next morning to go on a Manu Tour. Is it necessary to go all the way to Ollantaytambo to reach lower altitude? (Our friend has some kind of connection to El Alberque Hotel)

What should the cab fare for two people be for this far of a ride? (Our friend also recommends paying the $65.00 fee to be picked up by their reliable driver rather than chancing our Spanish to haggle with a local cabbie)

Is there an overnight option that is lower in altitude without traveling that far?

Will altitude sickness affect us immediately upon arrival?

Would we be safe to "tour" our way over to Ollantaytambo and then "tour" our way back to Cusco the next day? Or is this too much, too soon?

Lima, Peru
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for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
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11. Re: Altitude Sickness

Wrong information about altitude in the Sacred Valley was given on this thread.

According to Wikipedia :

Pisac is 2972 meters above sea level

Urubamba is 2870

Ollantaytambo 2792

So the three of them are below the 3000 meter threshold recommended by most for a better acclimatization process.

A few hundred meters does a great difference for acclimatization.

Orange Park, Florida
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58 posts
21 reviews
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12. Re: Altitude Sickness

OMG Chums! Thank you all! I am apparently going to find out in June. If we get off the plane and feel good are we OK to stay in Cusco or does it take a bit to set in? (I'd sure like to see what could have been an inappropriate answer to this simple question) What a great site this is!

Yorktown, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Machu Picchu
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13. Re: Altitude Sickness

TheCaptSteve, we'll never know what was "inappropriate", but sometimes it's as simple as someone advertising their company -- or it could be foul language or belittling another poster. If it was removed, we can only assume that it was, indeed, inappropriate.

Orange Park, Florida
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58 posts
21 reviews
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14. Re: Altitude Sickness

Thank you redhead 47. This is a most excellently run site! Curiosity has been known to kill the cat LOL.

Chicago, IL
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276 reviews
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15. Re: Altitude Sickness

I know I'm late to this post, but altitude sickness is something you never know until you get there. I was worried about the altitude as well and opted for pills. I ended up not taking them at the suggestion of my tour leader and I don't regret it. Don't get me wrong, I WAS affected by the altitude. My first day of the group tour we landed in Arequipa (7,500+ feet) and the next day traveled to Chivay via the Salinas and Aguada Reserve (maximum altitude of 16,108 feet). If you're going to get altitude sickness, you'll notice it pretty quickly. I'm not sure when and how high we were, but it got to a point where I noticed my breathing had changed and I started getting a bad tension headache. It wasn't one of those temple headaches, it was the headache you get at the back of your neck. I requested oxygen from my bus driver and got 5-minutes, which helped. The biggest side effect of altitude sickness no one mentions is the fact that it can very well affect your sleeping and eating. I never got a good night's rest while in Peru because I would fall asleep and wake up every hour. Someone explained that's due to your body not getting enough oxygen while you sleep. I also lost quite a bit of my appetite throughout my trip. I either wasn't that hungry or would eat smaller portions before feeling full. Not a nuisance, but just don't be surprised.

Orange Park, Florida
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58 posts
21 reviews
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16. Re: Altitude Sickness

Thanks appetite4trvl. My Dr. will be most happy if it makes me eat smaller portions LOL. As my Wife has had Guinea Pigs for pets and apparently that is a Peruvian staple, it sounds like this might be a trip that's good for losing weight! We will be going directly from sea level here in Florida, to 11,000 ft in Cusco. As we are arriving on Monday and I'm trying (so far unsuccessfully) to schedule an Amazon Jungle (Manu Reserve) trip that would leave on Wednesday. This would make going lower to Ollaytantambo hard to do. And it appears to be no rhyme or reason as to who it affects! This will be interesting.

Yorktown, Virginia
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for Machu Picchu
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17. Re: Altitude Sickness

Even with gradual increase in altitude & taking Diamox, my husband had altitude problems, but not bad enough to need medical help. He spent the first day in Puno in bed, even after being in the Sacred Valley & Cusco, plus hiking the Inca Trail. He definitely suffered from appetite suppression. He lost 15 lbs. in the 2 weeks we were in Peru. One day on the Inca Trail, I think he ate about 6 bites of food all day! Admittedly, that 14 days included the Inca Trail trek, but I also trekked & only lost 3 lbs. -- not appetite suppression for me! (We didn't eat guinea pigs, either).

In addition to the low to nonexistent appetite, he had extreme fatigue on some days (esp. in Puno), some breathing problems, some abdominal pain and some headache. I can't imagine how he might have been without the Diamox & other precautions we took!

Cusco, Peru
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104 reviews
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18. Re: Altitude Sickness

Don't worry TheCaptSteve, Cuy (guinea pig) is easily avoidable and there are many excellent things to try, if you don't lose your appetite that is.

Orange Park, Florida
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58 posts
21 reviews
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19. Re: Altitude Sickness

Thanx Ms. redhead47. I will have my Dr. get us prescription for Diamox. Are there any bad reactions to worry about this medicine? As I see you live in the USA maybe you shouldn't answer that as you may get arrested for illegally practicing medicine LOL. I have seen that you can get the Yellow Fever vaccine in Cusco for $20.00 but you need at least 10 days for it to do its magic - not long enough for us to be legal to go down into the Amazon Jungle. The cheapest I've found it here is $125.00. Should we wait and buy the Diamox after getting there?

Cusco, Peru
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20. Re: Altitude Sickness

So far we have only had two guests that have opted to take the Diamox. One guest had no issues but the other quit taking it because she said it felt like the skin on her face was crawling.

If you Google Diamox you will see a whole list of possible side effects.