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  • Writer's pictureReEnergize Cusco

How to combat the altitude in Cusco

Discover our tips to over the high altitude of Cusco

Situated at 3,300 metres above sea level high up in the Andes mountain range, Cusco is a spectacular city to visit. However those 3,300 metres (10826 feet) can make exploring the city quite a challenge.

You will notice that for the first few days after arrival your resting heart rate will increase and your oxygen saturation level will fall. The low air pressure reduces the amount of available oxygen in the atmosphere and as a result your body is forced to work harder to compensate as well as start to produce more red blood cells. Some people may be lucky and just feel a shortness of breath, others complain of brain fog, nausea, headaches and being unable to sleep and in the most severe cases some may require hospitalisation.

With the altitude being such an important factor in whether someone has a positive or negative experience in Cusco, we at ReEnergize Cusco made it our mission several years ago to help people overcome these issues. We imported two hyperbaric chambers and made the treatments accesible to all so they can get their holidays back on track. We offer sixty minute sessions, the minimum time recommended inside the chamber, this gives your body the chance to overcome the effects of altitude sickness. With the increased pressure, oxygen is absorbed by your body at a much faster rate (through the plasma, red blood cells + white blood cells) and it allows your body the chance to get oxygen to all the cells and organs that desperately need it, taking the body off survival mode. We have seen this help to drastically reduce the headaches, nausea and to allow the person to sleep through the night.

We also have several useful tips that you can do to actively lower the effects of altitude sickness.

1) Stay hydrated

Your body is working overtime to cope with the altitude and it needs water to keep up with all its important functions such as blood oxygen circulation. We recommend that you drink at least one and a half times the amount of water that you normally drink.

2) Take it easy

Arriving in a new city, we understand the excitement to go out and explore but instead of putting more strain on your body, we highly recommend that you take the first couple of days nice and easy. Take an easy stroll around the centre but don't be marching up to explore Saqsayhuaman. Give your the body the best chance of acclimatising by itself.

3) Don't go drinking Pisco Sours

A cold local beer whilst sat looking over the main square sounds like a great afternoon but alcohol dehydrates and we don't want to be working against the body. Give yourself a few days before you start trying Pisco Sours.

4) Coca and muña tea

Coca leaves are sacred to the Andean people and have been used to relieve the symptoms of mild altitude sickness, headaches, sore throats, and upset stomachs for hundreds of years. Coca leaves contain globulin, according to a study published five years ago by the magazine “Ecological Option”. This compound is a natural alkaloid that regulates the lack of oxygen in the environment.

If after a few days you are still struggling with the altitude, especially those unable to sleep then another option is to head to the Sacred Valley, which at lower altitude is likely to alleviate your symptoms. However we do recommend that before you change your plans and itinerary you pay us a visit. A session in one of our chambers may be just what your body needs. For more information on our hyperbaric chambers you can click on this link.

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