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Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

California
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Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

We will be flying into Cusco early in the morning, and have heard that it's best to head straight to sacred valley to acclimate there prior to Machu Pichu as we don't have a few days to acclimate in Cusco. My question is, would we be taking a chance of not feeling well by stopping at some of the ruins on the way? We are spending 2 nights in Olly and are thinking we should just head there to relax and take in the town if we feel up to it. We have the next day to tour around the sacred valley. Also the Pisac market is not open on that day (Monday) we will be coming from Cusco. Is it easy enough to tour the main sites from Olly?

california
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1. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

www.andeantravelweb.com is a good site for general info.

How many days total do you have from when you arrive to when you depart Cusco?

You might do better to go to Ollantaytambo, rest a bit, and then visit the old town, and the Ollantaytambo ruins there. You can walk or take a moto taxi. If you want a guide there are a few at the entrance.

Your second day you can take your SV tour to the other sights such as Pisac, Moray, Salineras, and if you missed it, Ollantaytambo..

Then go to MP

Then go back to Cusco and stay a night before you depart.

I don't think it is convenient to visit Cusco from Ollantaytambo. Pisac is also reallly more covenient from Cusco

Your other option is to stay around Urubamba which is more central but requires a taxi to get everywhere.

Edited: 25 February 2012, 22:17
California
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2. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

Thanks for the info mlgb. Here's our thoughts. We are flying into Cusco early Mon morning (6:45am ). We would like to take a taxi directly from the airport to Ollantaytambo and rest there (lower elevation), and then like you mentioned enjoy the ruins/old town later in the day. The next day, Tuesday, we will tour around sacred valley including Pisac Market. Wed morning we will head to Machu Pichu for 2 days, taking the train back to Cusco Thurs late afternoon. Then we have 2 nights and one full day to enjoy Cusco before heading back to Lima and then Calif on Sat. Does that sound doable? We considered stopping somewhere on the way from Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo, but weren't sure we wanted to exert ourselves too much.

3. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

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california
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4. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

Your plan sounds okay. A few ways to switch it up are to look at returning to Ollantaytambo by late train and spending a night there. You can taxi back to Cusco after breakfast, if you haven't made it to Chinchero, Moray and Salineras you can stop there on the way and still have a half day or better in Cusco in the afternoon. Or perhaps see some of the outlying ruins such as Sacsayhuaman on the way..

Another thing to look at is whether to visit Pisac round trip from Cusco.

Any particular reason for spending two days at MP? Unless you are hiking to Huayna Picchu, Sun Gate etc it really isn't necessary. You can take the first train from Olly and late train back to Olly and have plenty of time at MP.

Edited: 26 February 2012, 17:02
5. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

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Removed on: 26 March 2012, 13:49
Edited: 26 March 2012, 13:49
australia
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6. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

Now I'm confused!

Isn't Machu Picchu higher than Cusco?

I thought that was why we had to stay in Cusco for a few days to acclimatize?

Toronto
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7. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

If you're doing the Inca Trail trek, you're required to come back to Cusco to acclimatize for a few days because the highest point you reach on the trek is almost 14,000 feet. Staying in Cusco (and being fine) is a good indicator for whether you'll have any problems there.

California
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8. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

Tom-Thanks for the clear information about altitude sickness that clears up a lot. Mlgb-We are planning 2 days in Machu Pichu to do hiking to Huayna Picchu, & Sun Gate and because I'm a teacher who teaches about Incas with my 6th graders. With this in mind, I think we will just do a hefty day of touring in the Sacred Valley on the Tuesday including the market. I'd love to take the train back to Sacred Valley again and taxi back to Cusco stopping along the way. But, we only have one day in Cusco, and we don't want to shorten it anymore. Any of the ruins better for me to see as a teacher than others?

Yorktown, Virginia
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9. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

ozziewanderer,

Machu Picchu (8000ft.) is quite a bit lower than Cusco (11,000ft.).

Those trekking the Inca Trail will go over a couple of high passes (14,000ft. and 13,000ft.) and sleep at high altitude on Day 2, so it's really important that they have spent ample time acclimatizing to altitude.

The Sacred Valley makes for a more gentle acclimatization, so many stay there before Machu Picchu, only staying in Cusco afterwards. But several days in Cusco are in order for those doing the Inca Trail.

Umeå
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10. Re: Cusco to Ollantaytambo - altitude sickness

Sleeping altitude is the crucial factor for altitude sickness : for the day at Macchu Pichu this means just over 2000 meters , four hundred meters below the peak of MP. Virtually impossible to get any degree of AMS at this altitude , at least without extreme exertion.

Altitude sickness starts with oxygen deprivation , not pressure change . With supplemental oxygen you can go to extreme altitudes without sickness - like the astronomers at Chajnantor Observatory in the Andes , that drive up in a single day to 5050 meters , starting from 2400 meters , and then breathe supplemental oxygen for their whole stay up there.

Same principle used on the train to Lhasa , same max altitude and two million passengers pre year.