Your body needs to acclimatize to cusco's elevation of 3326 m (10913 feet). Most visitors begin to feel the effects of soroche (altitude sickness) soon after arrival. The most immediate symptom is shortness of breath, so walk slowly. Being young fit will not spare you; soroche can affect anyone and some people are more prone to it than wothers.
Most visitors find that they can manage the symptoms - which include headache, loss of appetite, insomnia, dizziness, dehydration, general malaise and edema (puffiness) of the face after a few hours of rest. You should avoid exertion during the first day or two and stay well hydrated. Almost every hotels offers free coca tea (coca leafs tea), which may alleviate symptoms. Drink plenty of water if don't like the tea. To prevent symptoms altogether, some visitors get a doctors prescription of Diamox (acetazolamide), a sulfa drug that many cause allergic or other reactions.
A good way to limit the effects of soroche includes acclimatizing at lower altitude for example at Urubamba at 2879 m (9416 feet) or Ollantaytambo at 2800 m (9187 feet) in sacred valley, and begin your cusco area sojourn from there.
Acclimatization: the safest way to avoid any problem with altitude is to acclimatize properly. Try to start a trek the following day and aspect your body to be able to cope with the change in altitude. At the very least take a couple of days out to relax in Cusco and allow your body to adjust to the higher elevation within a couple of days you’ll find moving about much easier and after two weeks you’ll barely notice the altitude at this level at all.
Studies have shown that not everyone gets altitude sickness. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if a person is a going to get it. Being in good physical shape does not reduce the risk. Only once you arrive to a high altitude city, you will know if your body will be affected by the altitude.
It is possible to reduce the risk of getting altitude sickness by taking some over the counter medicine, chewing coca leaves, or arriving to a high altitude city three days prior to starting a high energy activity such as hiking the Inca Trail.
If you decide to take over the counter medicine, it should be taken a few days before starting the trek. However, it is important to know that this medicine does not guarantee that you won’t be affected by altitude sickness.
Native Peruvians use a natural source to reduce the effects of altitude sickness as well as fatigue. This natural source is the coca leaf and needs to be chewed constantly upon arrival. The most effective and conventional method to eliminate the risks of getting altitude sickness is the gradual acclimatization to the altitude. Arriving to Cusco or another high altitude city at least three days prior to your starting date for the Inca Trail will help to eliminate the risks of getting altitude sickness during the trek.
In addition to the methods mentioned above, you should drink plenty of liquids, avoid high energy activities the first two days, and you should not overeat or eat fatty meals.
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Days - 2.
Starting Altitude - --m / --ft.
Highest Altitude - --m / --ft.
Total, Walking Distance - -- km / -- miles.
Days - 2.
Starting Altitude - 2650m / 8480ft.
Highest Altitude - 4300m / 14,107ft.
Total, Walking Distance - 12 km / 7.45 miles.
Days - 3.
Starting Altitude - 3,800m / 12,467ft.
Highest Altitude - 4,300m / 14,107ft.
Total, Walking Distance - 18 km / 11 miles.
Days - 4.
Starting Altitude - 2,800m / 9,186ft.
Highest Altitude - 4,780m / 15,682ft.
Total, Walking Distance - 34 km / 21 miles.
Days - 2.
Starting Altitude - 2,100m / 6,900ft.
Highest Altitude - 2,730m / 8,792ft.
Total, Walking Distance - 10 km / 6.3 miles.
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