Lately I’ve been hearing about a lot of people planning trips to Peru. Even when booking a packaged tour, I’m frequently surprised by their itineraries.
They first stay in Cusco, and then move on to see Machu Picchu. Some people even go to Lake Titicaca — the highest navigable lake in the world — straight from sea-level Lima.
Seeing Peru in this order is a recipe for feeling the effects of altitude sickness. While likely not serious at Cusco’s altitude, these symptoms are uncomfortable (and sometimes painful) and will make almost every visitor too tired to enjoy Cusco well.
I’ve written an article for Passport Health about how to plan your trip to Peru and Machu Picchu so you can avoid altitude sickness. It also has tips about things you should do and avoid when at altitude to minimize its effects (careful with the coca tea!): How to avoid altitude sickness in Peru
And for those of you thinking you need a packaged tour to see Peru, think again. It is very easy to travel there independently, much less expensive than booking a tour, and you’ll enjoy Machu Picchu more without having to stay with a crowded group.
It was hard to find all the info for how to travel independently for my November 2014 visit, so I wrote up a detailed how-to: Independent travel: How to travel to Machu Picchu without a tour. Even if you prefer a guided tour, my article will help ensure you bring the right stuff with you to enjoy your day at Machu Picchu (don’t forget your passport or your bug spray!). Why? Read this: Four crucial things no one tells you about visiting Machu Picchu, my article for Flung Magazine.
Lots more Peru advice on the Peru page. Happy travels!