High Altitude

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High Altitude

Peru's lofty heights present you with both majesty and menace. The Andes, the country's signature geographic feature, provide a glorious backdrop. The 6,768-meter (22,204-feet) Huascarán tops Peru's peaks, and much of the center north–south band of the country sits at 3,000–4,000 meters (9,800–13,000 feet) altitude.

Treat that altitude with respect. Its consequences, locally known as soroche, affect many visitors. For most, it's little more than a shortness of breath, which can be minimized by taking it easy the first couple of days and a good intake of nonalcoholic liquids. It occasionally requires immediate descent to lower altitudes. Peruvians swear by tea brewed from coca leaves, a completely legal way (in Peru, at least) to prevent symptoms. We recommend a pretrip check with your doctor to see if any underlying conditions (hypertension, heart problems, pregnancy) might preclude travel here.

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