Machu Picchu Elevation – Altitude Sickness


In this post we will discuss the problem of altitude sickness, which often goes with tourists who come to Cusco, not only foreigners who come to Peru , but also tourists who come from sea-level cities like Lima. This problem has caused deaths altitude, so it’s something you have to seriously consider, arriving in Cusco you have to try to follow the tips described below.

Before you start, do not be afraid to come to Cusco , this problem is something that can be solved easily, and you can bet you will not regret having known the wonders of Peru and Cusco, especially one of the wonders the world that is Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is located in Peru at an altitude of 7,972 feet (2,430 m) above sea level, And Huayna Picchu which is the highest peak seen in almost all the photos of Machu Picchu is at a height of 8,920 feet (2,720 m) above sea level. This elevation may cause altitude sickness to anyone who travel to this site.

But this is not all, Machu Picchu is in the jungle of Peru, so there are different ways to reach this site, Wonder of the World. but all start from Cusco, and this is about 11,200 feet (3,400 m).

Machu Picchu Elevation

By now the tourists who come to Machu Picchu may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, and altitude sickness can affect the traveler no matter their good physical condition.

More information about altitude Sickness:

According to Wikipedia the Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, acute exposure to Caused by low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude. , Although minor symptoms: such as breathlessness May Occur at altitudes of 1,500 meters (5,000 ft) above AMS Commonly OCCURS 2.400 meters (8,000 ft). It presents as a collection of nonspecific symptoms, acquired at high altitude or in low air pressure, resembling a case of “flu, carbon monoxide poisoning, or a hangover”. It is hard to determine Who Will be Affected by altitude sickness, as there are no specific factors That correlate with a susceptibility to altitude sickness. However, Most people can ascend to 2,400 meters (8,000 ft) without difficulty.


As you read the information above, to go to Machu Picchu must pass through, the city of Lima and Cusco city, both in Peru, All to people who travel Peru go to Cusco which is about 11,200 ft (3,400 m). and this has a higher percentage of suffering risks of altitude sickness, but these evils are mostly only mild.

Machu Picchu Altitude sickness

Let’s start knowing famous routes to go to Machu Picchu.

  1. Machu Picchu by Train: With this route only you took a train from a place called Ollantaytambo which is about 2 hours from Cusco, and arrive to Aguas Calientes to reach Machu Picchu.
  2. Inca Trail: This is the most famous route to go to Machu Picchu and therefore reserves from 2 to 4 months in advance, tickets are limited. because it is more famous? Because it reccorre of the roads of the Incas, and this route lasts from 2 days to 4 days, and of course this route came to a point where the height will be greater than 4000 m.
  3. Salkantay Trek: This route is when the tickets for the Inca Trail ends, and this route is the most difficult routes to go to Machu Picchu, Salkantay was a mountain sacred to the Incas is about 20,574 ft (6,271 m), at this point the air needed even for Cusqueños.
  4. Inca Jungle, Lares Trek: These two routes are not difficult and no higher than that of Cusco, except for Lares Trek that can overcome at some points.

You wonder How you can avoid this altitude sickness?

It is important to understand and know altitudes for each route to go to Machu Picchu, to know which tour to take.

In this blog we will show you how you can avoid this evil that affects a lot of travelers.

This advice is a collection of various items of both the internet and people living in Cusco, and local people know more than anyone how we can avoid this evil, these simple tips will serve you for an unforgettable trip to Machu Picchu.


Acclimatization is the process by which the body gets used to lower oxygen levels, and only achieved by spending time at various levels of altitude before moving higher.

Most people can climb from sea level to 2,400 m without experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness, but beyond this point the changes in oxygen levels and the pressure begins to have an impact on the physiology of people .

What makes excursions to Machu Picchu are difficult and potentially dangerous, is the rate at which it reaches the height. Most, if not all visitors to Machu Picchu, Cusco reach the fly that is in 3400 meters – on the edge of the area high and very high altitude.

If we give enough for the body to acclimatize it is essential to not suffer altitude sickness time.

How long is enough to acclimate?

The best solution we can recommend, is to stay in Cusco for at least two days to remove mild symptoms of altitude sickness and acclimate (most travel agents include an acclimation period of two days in Cusco as part of their package travel). All trails to Machu Picchu involve reviewing the overpasses (4,500 m), so that early acclimatization, although at a relatively high altitude, it is worth.

Alternatively, if you are visiting Machu Picchu (2,430 m) by train (Route 1 mentioned above), it is possible to fly in Cusco (3,400 m) and then descend immediately in the Sacred Valley (1-2 hours away by bus / car ) to the cities of Urabamaba (2,800 m) or Ollantaytambo (2,792m), where it is easier to start the process of acclimatization. Resting here for a day or two before proceeding to Machu Picchu by train leaving from Ollantaytambo, you can help reduce the likelihood of suffering from altitude sickness. That said still needed to return to Cusco after Machu Picchu, which could lead to the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness.

But most people do’nt have enough time to do these advices

Our Tips:

  1. If you wish to travel to Machu Picchu and do not want to have altitude sickness should walk before travel long distances, this will help your body is prepared when it lacks oxygen, and so can know how you feel when you are in Cusco.
  2. When you get to Cusco stay a whole day there doing nothing, you can walk to the store but do not make no effort, it is better to stay in the hotel doing nothing and try to descazar, and see that the next day will be good and ready to make any tour.

Laws altitude sickness.

If you do not feel well at altitude, assume it is altitude sickness.

If you have symptoms of altitude sickness do not overdo it. and may try to acclimate resting a bit, if this does not effect is better down immediately

Basic principles

Acclimatize for at least 2 days in Cusco.

Go slowly, enjoy the scenery and not over-exert yourself.

Avoid smoking, alcohol and stimulants.

Diamox is a drug that has proven effective in mitigating the effects of altitude sickness. It is a prophylactic (preventive medicine), not a cure. In other words, the faster acclimatization and helps prevent the onset of altitude sickness.

You should consult your doctor before using. Pregnant women or people with kidney and liver problems should not take this medicine.

Diamox is usually sold in 250 g of tablets.
Hikers often take 125g in the morning and the rest of 125g night, starting one day before arrival to Cusco arrival in Cusco on the first day of leave.

Diamox believe it deserves the punishment as a preventive measure, but it is recommended to consult your doctor before doing so.

Coca tea or coca leaf is a natural preventive.


Coca is a plant that grows naturally in Peru and ranks high in the Andean culture for its medicinal qualities and superstitious place. A pharmacologically active in the coca plant, ingredient called accounts coca alkaloids for about 0.8% of the fresh leaf and refined form makes cocaine. Drinking coca tea or chewing the leaves however produce the same effects as cocaine.


When chewed, coca leaves can act as a mild stimulant and has been shown to suppress hunger, fatigue, thirst and pain. Traditionally, various Andean cultures use the coca leaf for a number of medicinal, nutritional and religious purposes.

A traditional use is in the prevention of altitude sickness. Local either chew the leaves or drinking coca tea, and encourage tourists to do the same as a preventive measure.

However there is no conclusive evidence that coca leaves help prevent the onset of altitude sickness, or even help treat the symptoms.

Now you’re ready to go to Machu Picchu which tour you want to choose?
Do not be afraid altudud the problem of making the points mentioned above but avoid these problems and will have a beautiful journey in Cusco and Peru..

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