Peru altitude

Old Mar 14th, 2016, 09:41 PM
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Peru altitude

My husband & I will be going to Machu Picchu & Colca Canyon in May & I am concerned about the high altitude. I have never been comfortable in high altitude (Breckenridge, CO). Will there be oxygen available for me or will I need to rent an oxygen unit in the U.S.? I was told by my doctor I cannot use the coca leaves. This is a special opportunity for us to go, so it will be very disappointing if we need to cancel.
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Old Mar 14th, 2016, 10:29 PM
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Oxygen is generally available at the more expensive hotels but best to check in advance before booking. It won't help you to become acclimatised but may alleviate the symptoms temporarily. I used it the first time in Peru when I felt really rough and it did help relieve the headache and breathlessness but only for a couple of hours. Continued use apparently delays proper acclimatisation.

The best way to avoid problems with altitude is to ascend gradually. Given the topography of Peru this is not always possible. A few things will help. To get to MP most people will fly into Cusco from sea level. At 3400 m this is way above the altitude that effects will be felt. I suffered the first time I went there. One solution is to transfer immediately to Ollantaytambo or Urumbamba in the Sacred Valley which is lower at around 2700m and so easier to acclimatise. Fortunately is is easier to get to MP from there anyway. Save Cusco for later when you have acclimatised.

To get to Colca you will go via Arequipa which is lower at 2400m. Staying in Colca however will mean sleeping at altitudes around 3700m plus driving over a pass at 4800m ( only briefly). For this reason it might be better to do MP and Cusco first and leave Colca until you ar aclimatised.

Here is a link to more info on how to deal with altitude

Chewing coca certainly helped me on a high altitude hike but if you can't use it then maybe your doc could prescribe something like Acetazolamide (diamox in the US) which, if taken before arrival at altitude, can help ( or so I am told!).
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 05:46 AM
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We are skiers and have had to deal with altitude a lot.
Even with the normal precautions (lots of water, no alcohol or caffeine, an aspirin every morning and evening to thin our blood and improve oxygenation), DH still had trouble.
For him, Diamox has made a tremendous difference. Of course, only your doctor will know if it is appropriate for you.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 12:58 PM
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Thanks. This helps when I see the doctor.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 01:52 PM
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Can you drink the cocoa tea? I found that helped me.
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