5 Tips How To Prevent Altitude Sickness In Cusco & Machu Picchu

5 Tips How To Prevent Altitude Sickness In Cusco & Machu Picchu

Altitude sickness is one of the most common illnesses that affect travelers who are coming from sea level. Symptoms of altitude sickness can be mild (dizziness, nausea, and headaches) or severe (difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, and death). If you plan to visit Cusco or Machu Picchu, then you need to know about how to prevent altitude sickness. We compiled 5 tips how to prevent altitude sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

What Is Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a condition that can affect some people when they travel to high altitudes. This happens because the air at these high altitudes contains less oxygen than that at lower altitudes.

Altitude sickness usually occurs when people travel to areas with an altitude of 2,400 meters (8,000 feet) or higher, as the amount of oxygen in the air decreases as the altitude increases.

Cusco Altitude 

Cusco altitude is located at a height of 11,1152 ft  (3,400 m) above sea level, so when you arrive in this city there's a high chance you may feel altitude sickness. The altitude of Cusco is significantly higher than cities in America, double than Denver's altitude of 5280 feet.

Cusco is one of the most visited cities in Peru, located in southeastern Peru near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 1.5 million visitors a year.

Machu Picchu Altitude 

Machu Picchu altitude sits at an elevation of 7,972 feet (2,430 m) above sea level. Most people are surprised to learn that Cusco sits even higher at 11,200 feet above sea level. This is more than most of the entire state of Colorado!

Machu Picchu is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru because of its mysterious history and archaeological value.

Even though lower than Cusco, altitude pills for Machu Picchu and altitude supplements will still come in handy!

How Altitude Sickness May Affect Me In Cusco & Machu Picchu

How might the altitude sickness symptoms affect your trip to Peru? If you don’t take altitude sickness seriously, it may even ruin your trip. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that altitude sickness is unpredictable. It doesn’t matter if you are a super fit athlete or someone who hasn’t exercised in years. Altitude sickness can affect anyone – even kids! 

What causes altitude sickness? It takes time for your body to adjust to the lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes. The lower oxygen levels cause symptoms like:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea
  • trouble breathing
  • loss of appetite

With these terrible symptoms that will set your trip back, knowing how to avoid altitude sickness is a must when visiting Peru.

5 Ways How To Prevent Altitude Sickness In Cusco & Machu Picchu

Cusco and Machu Picchu are located in the Andean highlands, where the air is thin and the altitude is high. Many people experience some symptoms of altitude sickness upon arrival, which can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping.

Unfortunately, many visitors do not take this into consideration when planning their trip to Peru. Altitude sickness is real and can ruin your entire trip if you don't prepare for it.

Here's 5 tips how too prevent altitude sickness in Cusco & Machu Picchu:

1. Take It Easy The First Day

The first thing you should be aware of is that it can take a few days to adjust to the high altitude. For most people it takes around 1-3 days to acclimate and get fully used to the elevation in Cusco or Machu Picchu.

To make this easier on yourself you should plan your itinerary so that you're not doing anything too strenuous at least the first day, or two. To judge this, you can monitor how you feel after a day, as altitude sickness symptoms usually kick in within 12-24 hours.

2. Hydrate A Lot

One of the best ways to prevent altitude sickness in Cusco or Machu Picchu is by drinking a lot of water. When you're at high altitudes your body tends to dehydrate quicker than normal because the air is thinner and dryer.

Hydration in your body takes more than just water, nutrition such as electrolyte and amino acids is used by your cells to efficiently do so. To enhance your hydration, take our Zaca hydration packets that will help you rehydrate, replenish and recover faster.

3. Avoid Alcohol (Early On)

Be careful with drinking alcohol as it will intensify the altitude sickness, so avoid it when you first arrive to Cusco. Including tobacco too, these two substances have the characteristic of dehydrating the body which increases the chances of suffering from altitude sickness.

4. Drink Coca Tea

Do coca leaves help altitude sickness? Short answer is yes it can. Although illegal to use in United States, coca leaves are very popular in Peru, and they have been used by locals for centuries.

The leaves are touted by locals to help to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. You can drink coca tea mostly anywhere in the city – just ask for "un te de coca" (one coca tea). You should be able to buy large bags of dried coca leaves at any supermarket or pharmacy.

If possible upon arrival in Cusco, you could take a cup of coca tea to help adapt to the elevation, and drink it throughout your trip.

5. Supplement Glutathione 

Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage by free radicals. Glutathione levels decline rapidly at higher altitudes, so restoring them is important for proper function of the liver and other organs.

One study in India showed glutathione decreasing by as much as 45% due to high altitudes!¹

You can supplement this superior amino for Peru trip with our zaca chewables that are loaded with glutathione. You'll definitely want these altitude adjustment supplement chewables or pills for altitude in Peru.


Our Top-Rated Altitude Supplement

Altitude Adjustment Supplement Cusco & Machu Picchu
Traveling to high altitudes is an adjustment. But with zaca chewbles, you can enjoy your Peru trip without losing your breath. Zaca chewables were created by two brothers who live in the mountainous state of Colorado and discovered the secret to fighting high altitude. These easy-to-eat, natural berry-flavored chewable tablets (no artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives) are loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and herbs so you can feel better faster during your high-altitude journey. Give zaca chewables a try before you fly.

1. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione