Altitude Sickness In Peru: The Complete Guide

Altitude Sickness In Peru

Altitude sickness in certain areas of Peru can be debilitating to your trip. This guide will explain everything you need to know about altitude sickness in Peru, and our best tips how to avoid altitude sickness there.

Peru Altitude

Peru altitude averages at 5,102 feet (1,555 m) in elevation throughout the country.¹ In comparison, this is pretty close to Colorado at 6,800 feet (2,072 m), which is the highest state in America.²

  • Peru altitude - 5,102 ft (1,555 m)

While Peru gets as low as sea level with the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Andes mountains gives rise to the many high altitude destinations.

Some of the biggest tourist destinations includes Machu Picchu at 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) in elevation, and Cusco at 11,152 feet (3,399 meters) in elevation.

The highest altitude in Peru is Huascarán mountain, which sits at 22,205 feet (6,768 m) above sea level. If going on a hike, trails such as the Inca Trail, Choquequirao, or the Ausangate trek are all at high altitudes exceeding 8,000 feet.

Altitudes at Peruvian destinations:

  • Machu Picchu altitude - 8,040 ft (2,450 m)
  • Cusco altitude - 10,800 ft (3,300 m)
  • Inca Trail altitude (Warmiwañusqa pass) - 13,780 ft (4,200 m)
  • Huascarán alttiude - 22,205 feet (6,768 m)
  • Choquequirao altitude - 9950 ft (3,033 m)
  • Ausangate trek altitude 10,334 to 16,800 ft (3,150 to 5,120 m)
  • Lake Titicaca altitude - 12,507 ft (3,812 m)
  • Puno altitude - 12,420 ft (3,860 m)
  • Arequipa altitude - 7,740 ft (2,380 m)

Outside of the coast of Peru, if traveling to any part of the Andes mountains, you'll experience some very high altitudes that come with the risk of altitude sickness.

How Common Is Altitude Sickness In Peru?

Altitude sickness, also called soroche in Peru, can be very common in the Andes mountains.

75% of people get mild altitude sickness at elevations over 10,000 feet (3048 m) according to the Cleveland Clinic.⁴ Based on this fact, visiting Peruvian destinations such as Cusco come with a very high chance of altitude sickness.

Altitude Sickness In Peru

Altitude sickness, soroche or acute mountain sickness — all describe the condition of being at high altitudes. It's caused by lower oxygen levels, known as hypoxia.

Altitude sickness can start as low as 6,000 feet according to the University Of Michigan, and the Andes in Peru well exceeds that minimum in many areas.⁵ 

The combination of lower oxygen levels, physiological stress, oxidative stress, and even increased respiration can lead to the common symptoms of altitude sickness in Peru including headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. 

Symptoms of altitude sickness in Peru:

  • headache
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • malaise

Altitude sickness usually occurs within 24 hours of arrival. 

Based on your travel plans be well prepared for altitude sickness in Peru, or your experience could go south. We'll cover our best tips below.

Yes, altitude sickness can be a problem in Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, the ancient city was built by the Inca civilization and is located at an altitude of 7,972 feet (2,430 meters).
For comparison, Denver is at an altitude of 5280 feet and is known for visitors getting altitude sickness. With Machu Picchu being nearly 8000 feet, altitude sickness becomes even more of a problem.

While Coca is illegal in United States, it's legal and widely available in most markets Peru as leaves to make coca tea or to chew

3. Acclimate Slowly

In conclusion, our top tips to to avoid altitude sickness in Peru includes — maximize hydration, chew or drink coca leaves, acclimate slowly, take Sorojchi pills, take it slow and rest, and supplement glutathione.

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Best Rated Altitude Supplement Peru
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1. Altitude in Peru: Your Complete Guide
2. Colorado Travel Facts
3. Popular Peruvian City and Attraction Altitudes
4. Altitude Sickness
5. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
6. Does Chewing Coca Leaves Influence Physiology at High Altitude?
7. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
8. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione