Travel Blog

How to Climb Machu Picchu Without Getting Altitude Sickness

Aug 16, 2022

Because of its altitude, Machu Picchu is not always an easy trek to complete. The area was built at an elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level, which means that you’ll need to make sure you’re acclimated to the altitude before you begin hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and other surrounding destinations. If you’re planning on traveling to Machu Picchu, here are some tips on how to go about it so that you can get there with your health intact! 

High Altitude Tips for Cusco

Because of the high altitude, you will have to take a few precautions before heading out. You’ll want to drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the excursion and during the hike. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. It may be tempting to have a glass of wine or a morning cup of coffee, but both beverages can lead to dehydration. Think twice before hanging out late the night before. Being well rested will give you the much needed boost of energy. Eat light meals and avoid overeating. Keep your head up as you walk around, but don't overexert yourself or climb too many stairs at once (rest frequently). 

The Best Places Near Machu Picchu

Cusco is the best place to start your journey. Not only is it the gateway to Machu Picchu, but it's also full of Incan history and culture. Plus, at 3,400 meters above sea level, it's a good acclimatization point. Arequipa is another great option. It's about 2,000 meters lower than Cusco, so you'll have an easier time adjusting. With its rich colonial past, this city has plenty of restaurants, bars, hotels and museums for those looking for more adventure. For travelers with less time in Peru or those who are sensitive to altitude sickness, choose one of these three cities as a stopping point before or after Machu Picchu: Huaraz (about 4 hours from Cusco), Puno (about 9 hours from Cusco) or Lima (about 10 hours from Cusco).

Inca Trail - Things To Know

If you're planning on doing the Inca Trail, there are a few things you should know before setting off. Firstly, the trail is at a high altitude, so it's important to be prepared for that. Secondly, the trail can be quite challenging, so make sure you're physically fit enough to take it on. Thirdly, the weather can be unpredictable, so pack accordingly. Fourthly, there are plenty of amazing sights to see along the way, so make sure you take your time to enjoy them.  Finally, this is not an easy hike and you should not attempt it if you have any type of medical condition or are under 16 years old.

Going from Machu Picchu Back Down

It is important to remember that when you are descending from Machu Picchu, you are still at a high altitude. Give yourself time to adjust by spending a day or two in Cusco before heading back down the mountain. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol while you are acclimatizing. Take it easy on your first day back down and listen to your body. If you feel ill, stop and rest immediately.

Don't worry - not all people get altitude sickness and even if they do, it usually only lasts one day or less! Seeing this area of Peru is an unforgettable experience. Charge your phones and have plenty of memory on your camera because you’ll want to take plenty of pictures and videos.