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Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

London, United...
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Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

Hello,

I am flying to Cusco from Lima and would like to avoid altitude sickness. I have heard one can get sick simply because Cusco is already very high.

I booked plane tickets to give my body 4 full days to adjust to the altitude before going on the salkantay trek.

Should I consider going down to Pisac for the first day, sleep there and then go back up to Cusco for the remaining 3 days?

I haven't book my hotel yet so I have still the option.

Thanks a lot in advance for your advice!

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

If you can spend a day at a lower elevation in the Sacred Valley, it helps. Pisac is not far from Cusco. I'm not sure how much lower it really is.

Lima, Peru
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2. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

It is very difficult to know how the altitude will affect you, of course going to a lower altitude location is much better to avoid the altitude sickness, you can two nights at a lower altitude and then go back to Cusco

Hope this helps!

Umeå
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for Leh
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3. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

Cusco is 3400 , Pisac 2972 , Ollantaytambo 2800 : I'd go for Ollantaytambo.

Cape Town
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4. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

Hard to avoid altitude sickness entirely, unless you go up progressively and very, very slowly. But allowing 4 days in Cusco should be more than enough - most people acclimitise from sea-level to 3400 metres in 3 days ; just be ready for headaches and lethargy for the first 1.5 or 2.5 days. Take it easy, eat small meals, drink water, rest up and you'll very likely be absolutely fine by the third day.

That was my wife and my experience when we flew from Lima to Cusco, spent 3 nights there then hiked the Inca Trail. We're both in our late 40's and have lived at sea-level most of our lives, but by the third day in Cusco we were right as rain (story and pics here : www.paulkilfoil.co.za/2010.aspx).

Enjoy!

UOT
Scottsdale, AZ
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5. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

SA-BackPacker--did you have medication? We asked our doctor for Diamox but we have to go in for appointment first. Not sure what we are going to do yet...

Cape Town
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6. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

UOT : No, we did not use any medication at all. I do not pop pills unless I really, REALLY have to, and a mild headache for a day and half does not qualify ... Cusco is a great place to relax for a few days - the town centre is small and can easily be walked (even going very slowly), there are plenty of good restaurants and quite a lot to look at. Just take it very easy, rest when you're climbing stairs (I'm not kidding), drink water and I'm fairly sure that within a couple of days you'll be able to slog up the hill to Sacsayhuaman (a good test, because it is very steep and a stiff, albeit easy, climb).

Lima, Peru
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for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
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7. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

You will be better of by going straight to the SV upon arrival to Cusco City.

If you go below 3000 meters above sea level its easier to acclimatize to high altitude.

I would choose Urubamba for its selection of hotels and restaurants and peace and quiet sorroindings.

Quilmes, Argentina
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8. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

We arrived in Cuzco by plane at 10 am and went directly to Pisac where we visited the market, and stayed the night. The following day we did Ollantaytambo. We are in our fifties, and just felt a light headache. My doctor recommended Ibuprofen, and my friend´s doctor recommended aspirin. That´s all we took. You will also find coca tea in all hotels. It helps too.

London, United...
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9. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

altitude problems are, i'm told by mountaineer-type-people, less of a problem around the equator than in higher and lower areas (like the alps).

we spent 3 days in arequipa before going on to cusco, and aside from a bit of tiredness on the first day and shortness of breath when walking full speed uphill, we've been fine.

it really is hit and miss, there's a great blog by acouple going around SA and after a month in cusco, she was still having problems with the altitude while he had none. fitness doesn't appear to be a factor. it's odd.

california
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10. Re: Fly to Cusco - avoid altitude sickness

You could avoid some of the altitude headache the first night by sleeping in Pisac, yes. Ollantaytambo is a bit farther and lower, yes but since you are needing to acclimatize for the trail I would try to have 3 nights in Cusco.

Bring Advil or Tylenol for the headache. Aspirin may not be a good idea if you need to also add in some Diamox (you can wait and buy it at a pharmacy in Cusco if you want some).