Inca Trail: Altitude Sickness Busting Tips

[:en] The Inca Trail, known in Quechua as Qhapag Ñam, is a truly magical journey that takes trekkers across beautiful landscapes, pristine rivers, breathtaking valleys and the lush, green edges of the Peruvian jungle. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure capped off with an arrival to Machu Picchu unlike any other.

However, crossing the high Andes and reaching altitudes as high as 4,000 meters above sea level can unfortunately cause some trekkers to experience the unpleasant effects of altitude sickness (known as soroche in Peru). The thin air and lack of oxygen at these extreme heights can bring on dizziness, shortness of breath, vomiting, headaches and physical exhaustion. Understandably, this can lead to a very uncomfortable journey!

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of suffering from altitude sickness during your Inca Trail trek. Here’s how to avoid the dreaded soroche:

Visit Your Doctor

Well in advance of your Inca Trail trek, make an appointment with your doctor for a check up and assessment of your physical condition. Share your trip plans, including everything from where you’re going to what you’ll be doing. From there, your doctor can assess which medications to prescribe you, including medications to help with altitude sickness. This visit to your doctor is especially important if you suffer from allergies, have difficulty breathing, or are at risk of heart disease.


Eat Lightly Meals

As soon as you arrive in Cusco, or any high-altitude locale for that matter, scale back on the amount of food you consume and avoid foods that are difficult to digest, like heavy animal proteins. During the trek, continue to stick with light and easy-to-digest foods like bread, bananas, rice, and even dry cookies.


Carry Coca Leaves

Do like the Incans did and avoid altitude sickness by consuming coca leaves before and during your trek. This ancient medicinal herbal leaf contains properties that do wonders in easing the symptoms of altitude sickness. For example, coca contains globulin, a natural alkaloid that assists the body in controlling your blood’s oxygen levels. Drink it as a tea at camp or chew on the coca leaves as you trek. Either way your body will thank you!


Drink Up & Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of water is an essential step to avoiding soroche. As you probably know, it’s easy to get dehydrated when travelling, but it’s especially so on the Inca Trail when dry air and sweat-inducing physical exertion are also in play. Oxygen is part of water’s composition after all! So, do yourself a favor and drink plenty of H20 throughout the journey.


Take It Easy & Have Fun

Though you’ll likely be on an adrenaline high, avoid any unnecessary activity like running or climbing. The physical exertion could quickly leave you breathless on the Inca Trail. We advise our trekkers to take it easy. Limit the extra exertion to smiles and high-fives, always take a rest when the opportunity presents itself.

If you wish to embark upon the beautiful journey of the Inca Trail, Explorandes has the perfect tour for you.  Contact us today to speak with one of our friendly Travel Specialists!


El Camino Inca, llamado en quechua Qhapag Ñam, es el mágico sendero que conduce a Machu Picchu y que atraviesa hermosos paisajes, ríos y valles hasta ceja de selva. Sin embargo, la ruta requiere subir hasta más de 4000 metros de altura, lo que puede causar en muchas personas el mal de altura o soroche. Las personas que lo sufren pueden sentir mareos, vómitos, dolor de cabeza o agotamiento físico por la falta de oxígeno. Por supuesto, esto puede llegar a incomodar mucho el viaje. Por suerte, existen algunas formas de reducir las posibilidades de sufrir el mal de altura. A continuación, brindamos algunos consejos para combatirlo.


1. Visita a un médico

Se recomienda visitar un médico días antes de hacer el recorrido. Este evaluará tu condición física y recetará algunos medicamentos para combatir el mal de altura sin poner en riesgo tu salud. Esto es importante si sufres de alergias o de enfermedades respiratorias y cardiacas.

2. Alimentación adecuada

El mismo día del viaje y durante este evita comer alimentos pesados y en abundancia. En su lugar, consume alimentos ligeros y fáciles de digerir, como galletas y pan.

3. Hoja de coca

Un método ancestral. Poco antes de partir, puedes tomar un mate de coca e incluso puedes masticar la hoja de coca. Esta hoja tiene propiedades para aliviar el soroche, puesto que contiene globulina, un alcaloide natural que regula la carencia de oxígeno en el ambiente.


4. Hidratación

Beber abundante agua es fundamental: recuerda que el oxígeno es parte de su composición. Lleva mucho líquido durante el trayecto, ya que la altura deshidrata. Se recomienda beber entre cuatro a cinco litros al día.

5. Esfuerzo adecuado

Evita hacer esfuerzo físico innecesario, como correr o escalar, ya que la falta de oxígeno hará que te agites más rápido. Descansa cada vez que lo necesites. En general, tómate el viaje con calma.

Puedes recorrer el Camino Inca o Inka Trail a Machu Picchu con Explorandes. Si tienes alguna consulta, comunícate con nosotros.


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