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What about altitude and acclimazation?

Indianapolis...
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What about altitude and acclimazation?

I am 68 years old in good health and active but have some breathing problems, especially with altitude. Really need personal experiences to help me decide if I can physicall handle this trip.

Am considering bringing a portable battery operated oxygen generator along an the trip. Any opinions GREATly appreciated.

Miami
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1. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

Mcass40,

Four of us, ages 37-53, all having run recent 5k runs and a couple of us completed full marathons, certainly felt the altitude. We took Sorojchi (spelling?), a local over the counter drug found in every drugstore in Peru - they even advertise it at the Lima Airport. We took that, and it prevented the headaches and nausea. However, we all still felt the shortness of breath, nothing you can do about that. We did the KM 104 one day (8-1/2 mile) hike to MP. It was a good workout, but it was worth it - our best day in Peru, and they were all great days.

We took more breaks along the trail than normal, enjoyed the scenery, took more photos while recuperating. We met many "older" hikers on the trail that were zooming by us - many from California and Colorado, and northern Europe - everyone just pushes on.

A number of hotels offer oxygen to their guests, but we were in more "budget-minded" hotels.

Cuzco and Lake Titicaca are tougher on you, as they are at the 12,000-13,000 foot level. The Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, Pisac, as well as MP) are lower, around 7,800 to 9,000 feet I believe.

I believe all trekking companies carry oxygen for their customers.

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Sasolburg,South...
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2. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

Considering you have some breathing problems you may want to give yourself more time to acclimatize to the altitude. Instead of 2 full days in the sacred valley or Cusco make it 4,assess your condition on the 3 rd day in the sacred valley or Cusco.

Take Diamox or the generic version(Azomid) with you. Key is not to over exert yourself,take plenty of breaks in between walking.

There are not as many steps at Macchu Picchu, as for instance at the ruins in Pisac or Ollantaytambo.

You can also buy small bottles of oxygen at Cusco airport.

Heinrich

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3. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

For sure acclimatize in the SV, I would choose Urubamba (check this forum for recommended hotels).

The recommended hotel also has its own oxygen.

Just take it really easy the first days, and visit MP, getting there by train. Do not try the Inca Trek, which is quite difficult.

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4. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

Even after quite a few days at high altitude, and no altitude problems, i often felt out of breathe when climbing steps etc at sites, i am 29! everyone takes it at their own pace and lots of little breaks!

I stayed in cheap hotels and every hotel had oxygen . you would be proably better to buy oxygen if you wanted to have it 'just incase' in peru as i dont think you are allowed bring your own onboard aeroplanes? not in ireland anyway!

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5. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

One thing that is often overlooked or perhaps not realized by many is that Cusco is quite a bit higher in elevation than Machu Picchu. As I recall Cusco is at nearly 11,500 ft while Machu Picchu is at around 8500 ft. Verify these numbers if they are important to you but I believe they are pretty close to correct.

For us the impact was felt as soon as we walked off the plane in Cusco. While not difficult it was a noticeable large difference in your breathing even at rest. Climbing the stairs to our 2nd floor hotel room took our breath big time for the first couple days. At night I awoke several times a night gasping as my breathing rate slowed to a level that cut the O2 down to a low level. I tell you all of this to say the worst will be the first few days in Cusco unless you plan to hike the trail and of course the physical exertion you will go through there will be worse.

Some of the hotels in Cusco have O2 bottles for guest who have trouble. Contact them to see if yours does. You will also be offered cocoa tea in the hotel which is often used to help locals and visitors tolerate the elevation.

If you are taking the train to Aquas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu you will actually get a littel break from the altitude if you've been in Cusco for a few days.

Have you been to the summit of Pikes Peak or another high elevation in the USA or elsewhere? How did you do there? Seems like Pikes is over 14,000 ft.

If you are able to make the trip I hope you have a great trip.

Chris

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6. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

A question from my wife who is much worried about this---does everyone acclimatize after a few days? Or do some people suffer until they leave?

We will be in Cusco for several days at least.

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Sasolburg,South...
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7. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

Everybody acclimitizes after a few days.

Follow xochitl`s advice and take diamox 48 hours before you travel to altitude.Once you are at altitude it is important to stay hydrated,offen the symptoms are worsened because of dehydration.Diamox is a diuretic as well,so the more reason to dink plenty of fluids.

Heinrich

Indianapolis...
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8. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

All of you have been so helpful and have really put my mind at ease. Thank you very much

I have been to Pikes Peak and had some difficulty but nothing I couldn't handle so I think I will be able to handle this trip.

Happy travels to all!

Miami
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9. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

Yes, drink lots of water - it is not about thirst but dehydration, headaches, etc. I think this really helped the four of us. Many extoll the virtues of Diamox, but in Peru you can also buy sorojchi. There are forums dedicated to this debate of altitude issues and drug choice. Check these forums out to help you make a decision. We all took sorojchi with excellent results. Some of us drank the tea as well, and all drank lots of water.

The shortness of breath can't be helped, just realize you won't be moving at the same level as you do back home.

Cuzco will hit you hard. We stayed two days in Cuzco before three days in Ollantaytambo, then one night in AC/MP. Cuzco is a must see, but perhaps stay first in the Sacred Valley for a couple of days due to the lower altitude, do AC/MP, then perhaps stay in Cuzco for a couple of days of siteseeing. We also went to Lake Titicaca after MP, which is higher than Cuzco. There is much to see and do in Cuzco and the Valley, so a few days to prepare for MP is no problem.

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10. Re: What about altitude and acclimazation?

I agree with some other posters -- go directly to the Sacred Valley from the Cusco Airport. In Urubamba, you can stay at the Kuychi Rumi, www.urubamba.com , where they will take care of you if you do have any problems. Spend a few days there, then take the train to Machu Picchu. After that, you should be ready for Cusco.

Taking a few days to gradually acclimate to the altitude will help, instead of hitting it at once (like staying in Cusco first). Save Lake Titicaca for last. That's what we did, and my husband still had problems there.

We took Diamox also, drank coca tea, made sure we drank plenty of water, ate lightly, avoided alcohol first few days, took it easy at first. On our first full day in Urubamba, we attended a cooking class at El Huacatay, set up by the KR for us. Nothing too strenuous about that! Also, our doctor gave us an inhaler (Advair, I think) to use when hiking the Inca Trail, if breathing problems appeared (they did). Talk to your doctor about this & Diamox -- not everyone can use Diamox.

BTW, you didn't specify your breathing problems, but many asthmatics report that they had no worsening of their asthma when in Peru, including on the Inca Trail. But if you occasionally use an inhaler, make sure you have it handy. I had a couple of asthma attacks due to diesel fumes (not to altitude), and I only have very mild asthma.

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