13 July 2018
Some travelers to high altitudes, although not all, may experience some symptoms of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness, or soroche as it’s known in Cusco, can range from feeling some discomfort, to occasionally a serious condition requiring medical help.
Some of soroche’s worst symptoms include: dizziness, difficulty breathing, nausea, headaches, vomiting and tachycardia; if severe, soroche can ruin any traveler’s first trip to Cusco.
But fear not! We’re here to offer you sound advice, straight from our expert Andean Lodges’ trekkers and mountaineering experts, on how to best prevent altitude sickness, and how to deal with it effectively if you start feeling symptoms.
Whenever the body experiences altitudes higher than 2,500 meters (or 8,200 feet), the effects of diminished air pressure can start to affect some travelers.
This happens because, although oxygen percentage is about the same as at lower altitudes, air is less dense, resulting in less amounts of oxygen entering your body with each breath.
To compensate for the lack of oxygen, one starts to breathe faster and the heart pumps blood more rapidly, thus resulting in the symptoms described previously.
The city of Cusco is at 3,399 meters above sea level (11,152 feet), and our trekking route at Ausangate crosses mountain passes at above 5,000 meters (16,404 ft.). This is quite a bit above the altitude at which soroche’s symptoms could start to be noticeable.
Due to the high altitude, we highly recommend that you acclimatize at the beginning of your trip, so that you can enjoy the ancient Inca city and all it has to offer, and especially to acclimatize well before your mountain trek.
There are pharmaceutical medicines that can “help” treat altitude sickness. The truth is that most of those haven’t been proven to work all that well, and how each person might react to such medicines has not been well studied.
What we can vouch for are natural methods that have helped Peruvians and mountain travelers for centuries, and that will help every newcomer who tries them:
These tips are what we can attest works best for preventing and treating altitude sickness. If you keep these suggestions in mind and put them into practice once you get to the city of Cusco, there’s a good chance that you’ll avoid soroche all together, and you’ll have a much better trip.
Remember, each person’s body reacts differently at higher altitude, so it’s best to plan ahead, acclimatize once you get here and take it easy for the first couple of days.