Machu Picchu altitude and how to prevent altitude sickness

Machu Picchu altitude and how to prevent altitude sickness Machu Picchu, the mysterious Inca city nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, is a dream destination for many. However, the Machu Picchu altitude sickness can become a dream dampener if not prepared well in advance.

It might pique your curiosity as to why such an occurrence transpires. The reason being, Machu Picchu sits at an intimidating altitude of 2,430 meters above sea level. Indeed, we are addressing an elevation of considerable altitude.

But, should this stop you from experiencing the Inca trail? That would be unequivocally inconceivable! If you take the necessary precautions and follow the right steps, you can keep this ailment at bay.

This post will equip you with the know-how to combat altitude sickness. Kindly proceed with the reading.

Arriving in Cusco: The First Encounter with Altitude

When you embark on your Peruvian journey, the first city you’ll probably arrive at is Cusco. At 3,400 meters above sea level, the altitude sickness in Cusco might hit you unexpectedly. Therefore, your acclimatization to higher altitudes starts here.

Upon your arrival, you might notice a shortness of breath or slight dizziness. These are symptoms of altitude sickness. However, one must not succumb to undue alarm.
Instead, take the first 24 hours to rest and adapt to the new altitude.

Coca Leaves: The Traditional Remedy

For centuries, locals have chewed coca leaves to combat altitude sickness. Upon arrival, you should try the coca tea, a staple at high-altitude Peruvian establishments. Both coca tea and coca leaves can provide a little relief from the initial symptoms.

Despite this, bear in mind that it does not represent a foolproof remedy. Your body needs time to adjust to the high altitude, so take it slow.

Tips to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Drink Plenty of Water: Your Best Bet

A pivotal piece of advice: Ensure abundant hydration. Hydration plays a crucial role in preventing altitude sickness. Strive to consume a minimum of 2 to 3 liters of water daily.

But remember to avoid alcohol. It can dehydrate your body and exacerbate altitude sickness symptoms.

Take It Slow: Acclimatization is Key

It would be prudent to pace oneself throughout the journey. Spend a couple of days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before heading to the highest points like Machu Picchu. This gradual ascent helps your body acclimatize better to the high altitude.

High Altitude, High Care

Experiencing severe symptoms like confusion, chest tightness, or a change in skin color? You might be facing altitude pulmonary edema, a serious form of altitude sickness. It’s important to descend immediately and seek medical help to treat altitude sickness.

Follow the Trails: The Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek

If the spirit of adventure beckons, we would suggest undertaking either the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek. These trails are not just scenic routes to Machu Picchu, but they also allow for a gradual ascent. This slower climb can be beneficial in adapting to the altitude.

Consult a Doctor: Prevention is Better than Cure

Consider visiting a doctor before your journey. They might prescribe medication to help prevent Machu Picchu altitude sickness. Following their advice is a surefire way to have a trouble-free trip.


Experiencing Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The spectacular view from such a high altitude is truly incomparable.

But, remember, the key to enjoying this majestic place is proper preparation. If you’re
well-prepared, altitude sickness will not hinder your trip. Instead, you’ll have an unforgettable journey exploring the ancient Inca ruins. So, pack your bags, gear up for the adventure, and let the mesmerizing Machu Picchu altitude leave you spellbound!