Inca Trail and Machu Picchu--altitude a problem??

Sep 9th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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Inca Trail and Machu Picchu--altitude a problem??

We are thinking about a trip here, but my husband is concerned that it is too high and we'll have problems. We are just hitting 60 and fit enough that we've done other hiking trips and several week long biking trips. But, we are certainly not among those who'd be categorized the super fit.

We are thinking of hiking in on the trail for the usual 4 day route. I too am wondering about the altitude though because in the past I've gotten a headache right after getting off the plane in Denver. Did the altitude bother you? Thanks.
julies is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 02:53 AM
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I am sixty, too. I had no problems with the altitude;however, two of my companions did. It is not a matter of fitness or age, really, and can effect anyone. Talk to your doctor about recommendations for preparation. The Peruvians offer cocoa tea to help.
cmcfong is online now  
Sep 10th, 2007, 06:55 AM
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Hi, If I am remebering correctly the trail and Machi Pichu are both lower than Cuzco. Regardless easing up to an elevation is usuallya way to mitigate the negative effects of altitude. Ie if you flew into Cuzco and drove or bussed up to Cuzco , you would probably feel better than if you flew. Also rich foods and alcohol can amplify the symptoms. When I lived at 2300 meters in Santa Fe, NM we always told visitors to our hotel that 1 drink was the equivalent of 2 at sea level!

AndrewDavid is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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Day 2 of the four-day Inca Trail hike can be pretty grueling, reaching altitudes comparable to those back in Cusco. It's one thing to walk around Cusco and to know that if you get tired, you can just go back to your hotel and rest. That's not the case on the trail. Once you start, there's no turning back.

As cmfong says, the response to those altitudes is so individualized, rather than being a function of age.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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Hi there,

I traveled in Peru 2 years ago - you will love it! I would agree that fitness is not really determinative of your reaction to the altitude. I am in my mid-twenties and pretty fit and I became quite ill. I didn't do the Inca trail but I still felt the altitude just walking around.

I would also recommend speaking with your doctor first just to make sure.
rsn is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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Thanks all. Now I really am starting to get apprehensive about the altitude because I know I hve had some mild effects before from altitude. And, I know it can affect all different kinds of people differently. Were any of the people you know actually so sick they couldn't function and wished they hadn't made the trip?
julies is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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I think this is one of those questions that nobody can answer for you, julies. I know people who feel so wiped out they have to go to bed when they arrive in Denver. Others manage Cusco (about 11,000 ft) just fine.

A time-honored way of easing into Cusco's altitude is to land at the airport and head to somehwere in the Sacred Valley (Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Yucay, Urubamba) for a couple of days. The valley is a couple of thousand feet lower than Cusco.

The suggestions here about minimizing alcohol intake and avoiding heavy meals are good ones. Also, get a good intake of fluids (water, juices). If you smoke, that's going to make problems worse. D'uh!

If you're apprehensive about the altitude, I'd at least skip the Inca Trail portion of the trip. Parts of it would be rough even at lower altitudes. You and your doctor are the best judge of what's appropriate here.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 06:49 PM
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I believe that would be COCA tea.
sobster is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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The first time I went, I had a debilitating headache in the Sacred Valley on the one day I forgot to take my altitude meds. I was in my late 20s and very fit, so it really depends on the person.

As an alternative, you could go to MP without doing the trail. I didn't do the trail (because of time constraints), but it was still a magical experience that I would highly recommend. There are plenty of shorter hikes that you can do among the ruins in the Sacred Valley. And if you feel great the day you visit MP, you can hike to the top of Huayna Picchu.
hills27 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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I am hesitant to tell you what to do if you have health concerns, but I would speak to your doctor before totally giving up on Peru. Having gotten sick myself, I am still happy that I went, and I thought Peru was an amazing place.

I didn't do the Inca Trail, but I did still go up the mountain and do some day hikes - in terms of altitude sickness, these were fine. I had also spent a few days in Cusco to get used to the altitude first. We had planned to go to the Lake Titikaka (Sorry if spelling is incorrect) region, but decided to change the plan because that is even higher than Cusco!

Another thought - we ended up spending some time at a nature outpost which was incredible. We got picked up by a guide in Porto Maldunado (sorry again about spelling errors) and spent 4 days in the rainforest. It's a much lower altitude, and if you like hiking and being outdoors, it was a fantastic experience!
rsn is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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as cmcfong mentioned some people get altitude sickness while others don't.

friend's of ours went a year ago to Machu Picchu and the husband got very ill and the wife had no problems. They are both in great physical shape and about the same age. So go figure.
nanabee is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 03:46 PM
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Sorry, sobster. Thanks for pointing out my goof.
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