All about altitude sickness or soroche and recommendations

Everyone who goes to Peru sooner or later will hear about altitude sickness. You can easily find encyclopedic information about this condition. But how does it look in practice? Is this dangerous? Do you really have to be afraid?

Let me start with the fact that altitude sickness, called soroche in the Andean countries, is not a specific ailment. Conditions at high altitudes mean that tourists may experience symptoms such as weakness, headache or lack of appetite.

Some symptoms may appear at an altitude of 2,500 m.a.s.l. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if, for example, a slight headache is difficult due to altitude, or perhaps because of travel difficulties or time difference. Each organism reacts differently, but depends heavily on gradual acclimatization. Therefore, the typical program of a trip to Peru includes time to acclimatize and before the group goes to the highlands of the Altiplano, they first spend several days at lower altitudes.

Some of our suggestions are:

  • Stay in Arequipa or Cusco, at an altitude of 2,300 m and 3399 m respectively. Two nights are useful for the body to adapt and be ready to travel more.

Tour Cusco Valle Sagrado

  • It is also important if we supplement liquids, because at high altitudes the air is dry and can easily become dehydrated.
  • Don’t work too much, because it slows acclimatization.

Interestingly, it is not true that older people should fear soroche more than young people. It can reach anyone, regardless of their age or physical condition. However, I must point out that it has never happened to us that a tour participant cannot continue his trip due to altitude sickness.

If symptoms appear, they can be treated. There are several ways to do this:

  • Peruvians have been chewing coca leaves for centuries to soften the effects of soroche. The best thing the foreigners can do is to imitate the natives. During the tour there is always time to buy a bag of fresh coca leaves to chew. In addition, the guide will show you how to chew these leaves.
  • You can also have a dried leaf tea called coca tea. In most of the reception hotels we find hot water springs. It is worth using, just like coca leaves.

  • If you prefer tablets, the so-called soroche pill You can buy them at the beginning of the trip and have them ready, just in case. Panadol works well as an analgesic.
  • As a last resort, if someone really feels bad, there is always an oxygen cylinder on the bus and in hotels. Although oxygen does not solve the problem of altitude sickness, it still helps a lot.

I would also like to mention other ailments that may appear during the trip. Because in South America, the stomach needs to get used to a different bacterial flora, symptoms of food poisoning may appear. Often, tourists see the source of all ailments in altitude sickness, because in fact the symptoms overlap and it is difficult to distinguish them.

In short, it is not as bad as it is painted. We should not fear traveling to Peru, just take the right precautions to acclimatise to this beautiful country.

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