Improved routes allow tourists to experience the best of Peru, including Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, all while better acclimating the body to high elevations and reducing wasted travel time.
Here’s how to avoid altitude sickness:
Peru is a very popular South American destination thanks to the natural wonder of Machu Picchu, the culinary sophistication of Lima and other attractions like Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines and the Sacred Valley. There is certainly no shortage of amazing sights to see in the place known as the ‘land of the Inca’ but the big question is often the best way to go about it. Clients want an efficient itinerary that maximizes their sightseeing time, but many tourists harbor concerns over altitude sickness, also called soroche.
SouthAmerica.travel has taken these factors into consideration with new itineraries that account for the valuable time of travelers and the effects that extreme altitude may have on their bodies.
In order to better understand the situation with altitude sickness, it helps to know the elevations. At 11,152 feet above sea level, Cuzco is higher than both the Sacred Valley (9,160 feet, similar to many ski resorts in the American Rockies) and Machu Picchu (7,970 feet). An hour long flight to the west, the coastal city of Lima sits at sea level.
Home to the only major airport in the region, visitors would begin in Cuzco with a half-day walking tour of the city in an attempt to acclimatize. However, as SouthAmerica.travel CEO Jürgen Keller explains, it really doesn’t work. As he describes, “the body needs more than a half day to acclimate to high elevations. Many people walk around Cuzco thinking they will be fine, but 24 hours later they feel a little queasy, and that is no way to begin a trip when you are looking forward to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.”
By re-ordering this popular travel route, tourists can begin in Lima and slowly acclimate to elevation over the course of several days, visiting the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu before ending up in Cuzco. This way the body has more time to gradually adjust to changes in altitude. Coupled with the physical exertion of hiking around the ruins of Machu Picchu, tourists arrive in Cuzco much better prepared for the elevation.
In terms of travel time, the updated route is made possible by new hotels in the Sacred Valley such as the Aranwa, which was built on a 17th century colonial hacienda. Prior to these new establishments, the region was dependent on Cuzco for acceptable accommodations, making the Imperial City a natural starting point for tours of the region. However, many travelers found themselves wasting valuable time in Cuzco while they anxiously awaited the beginning of their sightseeing tours of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. The new hotels allow tourists to transfer directly from the airport to their room in the valley, saving anywhere from a half to a full day that was used for acclimation previously.
Visit the SouthAmerica.travel Peru tours page, design your own Peruvian adventure with our custom trip planner and browse through our client testimonials to learn about the experiences of those who have already traveled these same routes.