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Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

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Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

My husband (63 with a pacemaker and replacement heart valve), and myself (59 and slightly asthmatic) are travelling to Cusco from the UK next month. I have already visited my GP who has checked the oxygen levels in my blood and says it's fine. I know that altitude sickness can strike totally randomly, but wondered if there's anything we can take that could possibly lessen the chances of getting it? I should add that we land at 10.40am, and have booked to go to MP 3 days later, in the hope that if we are ill, we may have recovered enough for the visit by then.

Edited: 7:11 am, January 03, 2014
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1. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

There is a pill called diamox which some people take to help with the altitude. Best ask your doctor about it. Taking things very slowly is the key.

Lima, Peru
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2. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Would suggest resting upon arrival in your hotel room, do not carry heavy luggage if possible, walk slowly, eat light, drink a lot of water.

New England
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3. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Also, avoid alcohol. Is there anyway that you could spend your first few days in the Sacred Valley instead of Cusco before going to MP? The altitude is lower in the Sacred Valley so you may have an easier time with acclimating. Also, since MP is at a lower altitude than Cusco you should feel better once you are there if you have any issues in Cusco.

I immediately felt ill when we landed in Cusco but by the time our taxi got to Ollantaytambo I was feeling better. Rested that afternoon, walked slowly, drank lots of water, avoided alcohol and was totally myself the next day. Two days later we returned to Cusco where for the next three days, other than needing to walk slowly on hills and steps I was fine and ready to begin our trek to MP. Even if you are not doing a trek, starting your trip at an elevation lower than Cusco might help.

Gahanna, Ohio
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4. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

How close is the Sacred Valley in relation to Machu Picchu? We are beginning to research and plan our trip to Machu Picchu. All of this information is quite helpful.

california
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5. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Ollantaytambo is in the SV about 1.5 hours from Cusco (the shorter route over the mountains is only 40 miles). Most of the trains to Aguas Calientes actually leave from Ollantaytambo. It is a pleasant town and about 2,000 feet lower in elevation than Cusco.

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

In addition to a GP, ask him to refer you to a travel specialist. They can recommend medications like diamox, if appropriate for you. Taking it easy the first day until you see how the altitude affects you also helps.

The Sacred Valley is roughly the area from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, although technically Cusco is just outside of it. You can drive the length of it in 1.5-2 hours as noted above. There are a number of sites in the valley and the whole general area is very mountainous and scenic.

London
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7. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Your husband should also consult his GP or, better still, have a word with his cardiac specialist to see whether there are any issues specific to his condition. If, as others have already suggested, you can stay at a lower altitude than. Cusco, so much the better. Ollantaytambo is perfect for exploring the SV and Cusco could be left until the end when you have acclimatised properly. As you have pointed out, who is affected is random but those with cardiac conditions should be especially careful.

As you are from the UK I assume that you have travel insurance? If so, you should notify the insurer of both of your conditions otherwise you will not be covered in the event of any problems arising. Most will cover you for payment of an additional premium.

I would also suggest that you check that your hotel has oxygen available ( many do) it will help temporarily alleviate the acute symptoms should they appear, although its use will delay acclimatisation.

Edited: 2:27 pm, January 03, 2014
Alfreton
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8. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Thnks for that. We are seeing the travel specialist at our doctors next week for some vaccinations, so will ask about the Diaxom.

Alfreton
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9. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

We have both seen our GPs, and next week we see the travel specialist. Our insurance is up to date with all our conditions, so no worries on that front. Checking with the hotel re oxygen is a good thought. MP isn't booked until our 4th day, so will hope to take it relatively easy before then so that it isn't spoiled. Thanks everyone for your advice.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Landing in Cusco. Help to prevent altitute sickness?

Honestly, MP is probably the easiest part of the trip. It's a lot lower. Even if you feel crappy in Cusco, you'll probably feel good when you get to MP because if you suffer from altitude sickness, the fix is to go lower in altitude.

Edited: 5:43 pm, January 03, 2014