Colourful Peru

8 July, 2024

How to Maximize Enjoyment Without Hassles

Peru, a land of diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers unique high-altitude experiences that attract travelers from around the world. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to the vibrant city of Cusco, the breathtaking Andes, and the serene Lake Titicaca, Peru’s high-altitude destinations are a must-visit. However, traveling to high altitudes can pose certain challenges. This guide will help you maximize your enjoyment of Peru’s high-altitude experiences while minimizing any potential hassles.

Pobladora de Cusco. Hotel Río Sagrado, valle de Urubamba. High Altitude

Understanding High Altitude

Before delving into the experiences, it’s important to understand what high altitude means. High altitude is generally defined as any elevation over 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). At these heights, the air is thinner, meaning there is less oxygen. This can cause altitude sickness, which includes symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. But don’t let this deter you. With proper preparation and awareness, you can enjoy Peru’s high-altitude wonders without any major issues.

You can also read: Salar de Uyuni: Mirror effect

Preparation: The Key to Enjoying Peru’s High Altitude

  1. Acclimatization: The most important step to enjoying high-altitude experiences is proper acclimatization. Spend a few days at a moderate altitude (around 8,000 feet or 2,438 meters) before ascending to higher elevations. Cusco, sitting at 11,152 feet (3,399 meters), is an ideal place to acclimatize before visiting Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley.
  2. Hydration: Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps your body adjust to the altitude. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you.
  3. Pace Yourself: Don’t rush. Give your body time to adjust to the altitude. Take it easy the first few days, and gradually increase your activity level.
  4. Diet: Eat light meals rich in carbohydrates. Carbs require less oxygen to metabolize and can help maintain energy levels.
  5. Medication: Consider taking medication like acetazolamide (Diamox) if you’re prone to altitude sickness. Always consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication.

High-Altitude Experiences in Peru

  1. Machu Picchu

No visit to Peru is complete without exploring Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city perched at 7,972 feet (2,430 meters). Despite being lower in altitude than Cusco, the trek to Machu Picchu can be challenging. The Inca Trail, a popular route to the site, offers stunning views but requires good physical conditioning. Alternatively, the train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes provides a more comfortable option.

Tips for Machu Picchu:

  • Arrive in Cusco a few days before your visit to acclimatize.
  • Book your tickets and train ride in advance.
  • Wear comfortable, broken-in hiking boots if you’re trekking.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks.
  1. Cusco

Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, sits at 11,152 feet (3,399 meters). This vibrant city is a blend of ancient Incan and Spanish colonial architecture. Its narrow cobblestone streets, bustling markets, and historical sites make it a fascinating place to explore.

Tips for Cusco:

  • Take it easy the first day. Walk slowly and avoid strenuous activities.
  • Visit the San Pedro Market for a taste of local life.
  • Explore the Sacsayhuamán ruins on the outskirts of the city.
  • Stay in hotels that offer oxygen-enriched rooms if you’re sensitive to altitude.
  1. Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley, located just north of Cusco, is lower in altitude (around 9,420 feet or 2,870 meters) and offers a gentler acclimatization option. The valley is home to picturesque villages, terraced fields, and ancient ruins such as Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Tips for Sacred Valley:

  • Use the valley as a base for acclimatization before heading to Cusco or Machu Picchu.
  • Engage in outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
  • Visit local markets to purchase handmade crafts and textiles.
  1. Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca - Los Uros

Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet (3,812 meters). Its deep blue waters and unique floating islands made of totora reeds offer an unforgettable experience.

Tips for Lake Titicaca:

  • Spend a night on one of the floating islands for an authentic cultural experience.
  • Take a boat tour to the Uros and Taquile islands.
  • Be prepared for cooler temperatures due to the high altitude.

Travel Packages: High Altitude Adventures in Peru

To make your high-altitude experience in Peru seamless and enjoyable, consider booking travel packages that cater to these unique destinations. Here are some recommended packages:

  1. Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley Explorer:

  • Duration: 7 days
  • Highlights: Acclimatize in the Sacred Valley, explore Cusco, share with a local family and take the train to Machu Picchu.
  • Includes: Accommodation, guided tours, entrance fees, and transportation.
  1. Ultimate Cusco and Lake Titicaca:

  • Duration: 10 days
  • Highlights: Discover Cusco, visit the Sacred Valley, journey to Lake Titicaca, and stay on a floating island.
  • Includes: Accommodation, guided tours, boat trips, and transportation.
  1. Peru High Altitude Adventure:

  • Duration: 14 days
  • Highlights: Comprehensive high-altitude experience covering Arequipa, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca.
  • Includes: Accommodation, guided tours, entrance fees and transportation.

You may also like: 9 nearby excursions in La Paz

Final Tips for a Hassle-Free Experience

  • Consult Your Doctor: Before traveling to high altitudes, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
  • Pack Wisely: Bring layers of clothing, as temperatures can vary significantly. Include sun protection like hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Stay Informed: Keep updated on weather conditions and travel advisories for your destinations.

With the right preparation and mindset, you can fully enjoy the breathtaking beauty and rich culture of Peru’s high-altitude destinations. Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, wandering the historical streets of Cusco, or sailing on the tranquil waters of Lake Titicaca, these experiences will leave you with lasting memories.

Are you planning your next trip to Peru?

Colourful Peru invites you to experience our region. We are committed to offer you the best options so you can live a Colourful journey. If you want to know more about our suggested journeys, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.



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