4 Tips To Avoid Machu Picchu Altitude Sickness
Most people who set out to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or take the train, are concerned about the potential threat of Machu Picchu altitude sickness. Read our guide below on Machu Picchu altitude and four tips how to avoid Machu Picchu altitude sickness.
Machu Picchu Altitude
Machu Picchu altitude is 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) in elevation.
The Incas built their city in the Andes Mountains at very high altitudes, making Machu Picchu one of the highest cities in the world.
The highest point on Machu Picchu is Huayna Picchu Mountain (sometimes known as Wayna Picchu), which stands at 8,835 feet (2,693 meters) above sea level. It's the mountain you see when you look up from Machu Picchu.
Beware if you're hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it goes 25 miles with altitudes that reach as high as 13,828 feet (4,215 meters).
- Machu Picchu altitude 7,972 feet (2,430 meters)
- Huayna Picchu altitude 8,835 feet (2,693 meters)
- Inca Trail altitude 13,828 feet (4,215 meters)
About Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the most famous tourist attractions in South America and the world due to its beauty. However, Machu Picchu's original use still remains a mystery. The mountain-top ruins are surrounded by lush forest and breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.
How To Prepare For Machu Picchu Altitude
While we'll cover the steps below to help avoid Machu Picchu altitude sickness, there's some things you can pack to prepare before your trip.
If you're going to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you'll of course need a lot more gear than listed below for a 4 day trip.
These items are highly suggested to bring along:
- Water bottle or hydration backpack
- Altitude supplements
- Energy bars
- Coca tea (must be purchased in Peru)
- Extra cash
- Fresh socks
- Good shoes
Consider these essentials, but not limited to other items that may be needed for longer hikes on the Inca Trail.
Preparing for altitude sickness is utmost important too, that is detailed below.
Machu Picchu Altitude Sickness
Machu Picchu altitude sickness is caused by low levels of oxygen in the blood at high elevations, known as hypoxia.
At this altitude of 7,972 feet (2,430 meters), altitude sickness can many symptoms including dizziness, headaches or nausea.
How quickly it happens depends on how high up you go and how quickly your body gets used to having less oxygen available than it does at lower elevations.
Symptoms of Machu Picchu altitude sickness include:
- shortness of breath
- loss of appetite
These Machu Picchu altitude sickness symptoms can be quite debilitating if not properly prepared.
4 Tips To Avoid Machu Picchu Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness can be a major concern for those who are traveling to Machu Picchu, especially if you are not used to higher elevations.
Follow these tips to maximize your Machu Picchu experience and avoid Machu Picchu altitude sickness.
Here are four tips that can help you avoid Machu Picchu altitude sickness during your trip:
1. Hydrate Well
When traveling to high altitudes, it's important to drink plenty of water, even if you're not thirsty.
The air is drier at high altitudes, so you lose more water through sweat and urination than you normally would at sea level.
You also breathe out more moisture from increased respiration. This makes it harder for your body to replace lost fluids, which can make you feel dizzy and fatigued — symptoms of altitude sickness.
To avoid dehydration, drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water when visiting Machu Picchu or any other high altitude destination. You may need more if the weather is particularly hot or dry, or doing intense activities like hiking the Inca Trail.
Use sea salt in your water or on your foods for added electrolytes. Or take Zaca hydration chewables
to enhance hydration.
2. Acclimate & Rest
Once you're at Machu Picchu, the best thing to do is rest and acclimate. You'll want to avoid strenuous activity until you feel better and your body has time to adjust to the higher elevation.
The next step to avoiding altitude sickness is to acclimatize. The best way to do this is by spending at least one night in Aguas Calientes before you travel to Machu Picchu. This gives your body time to adjust to higher altitudes, which helps reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Aguas Calientes is slightly lower than Machu Picchu at 6,693′ feet, which will help you acclimate easier. And it's only a 1 1/2 hour trek to your Machu Picchu destination.
Getting ample sleep is also critical to allowing your body time to repair and recover at high altitudes.
3. Drink Coca Tea
Drinking Coca Tea is an old remedy for altitude sickness.
The tea is made from the coca leaves, which are legal in Peru but not in United States.
Coca tea or even coca candy can be purchased in shops all over Peru, and likely in towns surrounding Machu Picchu.
Whether drinking coca tea, chewing coca leaves, or eating coca candy --- the coca plant is be a great option prior and during your Machu Picchu adventure.
4. Use Altitude Supplements
Nutrition can play a big role in your performance and how you feel at high altitudes. And that's where altitude supplements
can help you.
Our company has done vast research on this topic of altitude supplementation, and here we summarize two key nutrients we found with proven success.
Two nutrients with altitude research:
1. Glutathione - Well known for being the body's master antioxidant, Glutathione was proven to be depleted by 45% at high altitudes in a study of of India.² Being such a critical nutrient for oxidative stress, supplementing Glutathione will help replenish your levels.
2. DHM (Dihydromyricetin) - Extracted from Japanese Raisin which is a cherished herb in eastern Asia, DHM enhanced performance at high altitudes in a 2014 study.³ Shown to be effective, DHM is key herb to supplement.
Glutathione and DHM are best to look for in altitude supplements for your Machu Picchu trip.
Top Pick Altitude Supplement
Zaca chewables are a natural supplement that helps you rehydrate, replenish and recover. Formulated with Glutathione and DHM, you can enjoy the benefits of strong and effective nutrients. Take 2-4 of these fast-acting chewables each day before and during your trip. Try Zaca chewables today and thrive through your next mountain adventure.
1. Machu Picchu Wikipedia
2. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
3. Dihydromyricetin Improves Physical Performance under Simulated High Altitude