Salkantay Trek tips: altitude sickness
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Salkantay Trek tips: altitude sickness

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Salkantay Trek tips: altitude sickness

The city of Cusco is located at 3,400 meters above sea level. It is possible to feel some discomfort and dizziness due to altitude, known in Peru as soroche. It is recommended to take a pill for seasickness 30 minutes before arriving in the city. Now Do you imagine the feeling of been at 4580 m.a.s.l at the imposing Salkantay Pass? The altitude sickness is basically a consequence of lack of oxygen. It usually occurs in non-acclimatized people who ascend above 2,000 masl. in less than 1 or 2 days. The tourist who arrives at Cusco by plane is the most likely to suffer "soroche". Symptoms usually occur within the first 48 hours of ascent (but also much later) and include headache, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, choking sensation, sleep disturbances, vertigo, palpitations and problems of concentration. It usually appears after 6 or 10 hours of exposure to hypoxia and is more frequent in children under fifty years of age and in subjects who habitually reside at less than 900 meters of altitude. Learn with us the most important tips to avoid the altitude sickness and have the best experience at Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Also you can see an infographics as an extra information at the final in the post with some tips and symptoms that you must take in count before your trek.


Salkantay Hike: Altitude sickness


The so-called colloquially mountain sickness or altitude sickness is the lack of adaptation of the organism to the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) of altitude. It is a common mistake to think that the amount or concentration of atmospheric oxygen decreases with altitude. Actually the oxygen concentration is always the same (approximately 21%) regardless of the altitude. What happens is that, as we ascend, there is a progressive decrease in atmospheric pressure and also the partial pressure of oxygen in the air that we inspire.


For some time now, the mountain teams have experienced a great improvement and mountaineers are getting better prepared. There are more routes to climb the more complicated mountains, although in the high mountain there is still a high rate of losses in the ascents. According to studies, the main cause of sickness in high mountain are not injuries or exhaustion, but pathologies derived from altitude, especially cerebral and pulmonary edema, That is why you have to be prepared and adapt your body some days before Salkantay Hike in Cusco. 


How to prevent altitude sickness during Salkantay Hike:

Cusco is located south east of Peru at 3400 m.a.s.l. one of the highest cities for a person who almost lives from 0 to 2000 m.a.s.l. Now imagine the 4580 m.a.s.l at Salkantay!. 

One of the discomforts that a person experiences at that height is:

  • headache (for the first 24 hours to more)
  • Stomach pain (first 24 hours)
  • nausea and vomiting (extreme cases, almost never happens).
When altitude sickness is mild, it is characterized by headache (headache), associated with systemic manifestations such as malaise, fatigue, weakness (asthenia), dizziness and vertigo, sleep disorders (insomnia), gastrointestinal discomfort and sensation. of lack of air.
Be aware of any symptoms that are indicative of suffering from altitude sickness and immediately stop the ascent and drink plenty of water. As a result of these manifestations, we will witness an evident compensatory symptomatic procession, with tachycardia or increased heart rate, tachypnea or increased respiratory rate, dry cough that can later become hemoptico (bloody), redistribution of blood to central areas of the organism and in very advanced cases retinal, pulmonary, digestive hemorrhages, etc ...This syndrome usually occurs in the range of altitude ranging from 2,500 meters to 8,000, usually after 24 to 96 hours of having ascended to these altitudes And it undoubtedly has a character of individual sensitivity, a predisposition, in addition to influencing in a special way the previous training.
Prevention is the way to fight against altitude sickness. This includes making slow ascents, drinking abundant liquids, especially water, since breathing very dry environments such as those at high altitude causes a significant loss of them. Additional intake of salt, as well as alcohol and toxins should be avoided since they can worsen the picture by decreasing ventilation.

What to do to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness?

  • Practice sports before arriving in Cusco
  • Drink plenty of fluids when you get to Cusco, like, water, Coca tea (all the hotels offer it and in restaurants).
  • Chewing the Coca leaf due to its various properties can alleviate the discomforts of altitude sickness.
  • You can take some days to acclimatize at Cusco.

What can I do days before Salkantay Hike?

1.-A recommendation before arriving in Cusco is not to do it in front if it is your first time that comes at that height, it all depends on the vacation time available here I will give you an example:
2.- If you do not have too much time to do an acclimatization, you will have to drink plenty of fluids and do a light walk around the city of Cusco, or visit the archaeological center of SACSAYHUAMAN, as you can also make:
 If you need more information of thing to do in Cusco, please check this interesting blog: What to do in Cusco?

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