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Been to Machu Picchu? get altitude sickness?

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Been to Machu Picchu? get altitude sickness?

Postby Paco » Sat Mar 31, 2007 5:03 pm

probably going in another month, and wondering if I can handle the altitude there. Never been higher than Bascom Hill in my life and not so sure. I am in good shape, but....lack of that much oxygen to my brain would be a problem.

Where do you get the pills if so, do you need a prescription???
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Postby robbie webber » Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:13 pm

Paco -

Call me! I used to live and do research in Peru and know all about Machu Picchu, travel there, and altitude sickness.

Short version: It's not Machu Picchu that will get you. It's not really that high. It's Cuzco, which is where you start from. If you fly in, you will feel like you've been drugged for the first 12 hours.

Some people never get used to it, some people have much less trouble. Fortunately, I'm in the later group. General fitness seems to have no effect on whether you do well at altitude. I've seen college athletes puking their guts out, and I've seen out of shape smokers have no trouble.

If you can go through Arequipa first, which is a beautiful city and half way into the mountains, that will help. If you must fly from sea level to Cuzco, give yourself at least one day in Cuzco to do nothing but feel unable to function. Also, sleep as much as you can before arrivng. Drink lots of liquids, but eat lightly, and stay away from booze.

When they offer you coca tea, take it! But the trick is to ask them to boil the leaves in the water, and not just stick the leaves (or a tea bag) in a cup with water poured from the pot. Water boils at such a low temperature that you basically won't get any flavor or use unless you boil the leaves.

There are lozenges you can purchase in Peru called Coramina Glucosa. It has a mild respitory stimulant, and has gotten several friends up off the floor.

Take it easy in Cuzco, but enjoy. It is truly one of the most amazing cities I've ever visited.
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Postby Paco » Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:23 pm

Well if I get 2 hours sleep it'll be a lot, can't sleep on planes plus I'm probably going to 'sleep' in the airport since I arrive about midnight and fly out at 6am--sounds fun.

I was going to stay in Cusco 2 days, then go to Aguas Calientes for 2 days, then back to Cusco for 1 then back to Lima and then somewhere else. but haven't booked anything yet. Sound good?

So no pills, just those lozenges for sale in Cuzco?? I've heard about the tea....will do. I've read more since I posted and see some out of shape people are fine at 12k and athletes are sick at 8k....you'll have to wait until you get there to find out.
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Postby robbie webber » Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:00 pm

Paco wrote:Well if I get 2 hours sleep it'll be a lot, can't sleep on planes plus I'm probably going to 'sleep' in the airport since I arrive about midnight and fly out at 6am--sounds fun.


Yeah I did that once - the last time I was in Cuzco. I felt like hell and swore I'd never do it again. And, um, I'm pretty good at altitude.

Seriously, if you have any chance to spend another day or two in Cuzco, just to chill out and get used to the altitude, I'd suggest it. You can easily spend weeks in the Cuzco area and still never get bored.

Or spend the night in Lima - get a hotel in the suburb of Miraflores to rest from your trip and not be sleep deprived on your way to Cuzco. I can't take the pollution in downtown Lima, so it's the one city where I stay in the 'burbs. But except for the bad air, Lima is an amazing place as well. The capital of the Spanish empire in South America.

Either way, have a fantastic time, and report back. Peru is an adventure, no matter where you go.
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Postby Paco » Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:38 pm

I don't sleep much anyway, if I get 5.5 it's good. More would be nice though.

What all is there to do besides MP? There's a few museums in Cuzco, but what else?? I haven't read up on it that much yet. Other trails are around there I know.

I'll leave on a wed..arrive in CUZ thurs morn. was leaving mon for Lima then to Buenos Aires on an overnight flight. Have a full day in Lima....
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Postby robbie webber » Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:50 am

The architecture is an amazing mix of pre-Columbian, colonial, and modern. The Inca engineering is phenomenal. Cuzco has frequent violent earthquakes, and the only buildings that have never been damaged are over 500 years old.

There are other Inca settlements, fortifications, and architecture within walking distance of downtown Cuzco, or you can take a bus or tour out to some of the farther ones.

In addition to museums, the churches/catherdrals are something to see. The artwork and mix of indigenous and Christian imagery is fascinating.

Cuzco is also a place where you just want to sit and drink in the sites. Or wander around the streets. You just won't believe the Inca walls topped off with colonial buildings.

Finally, if you are into bringing home gifts or collecting artisan products, Cuzco will make you drool. Lots of little shops in downtown with beautiful trinkets, but also true artwork.

Have fun. I predict you will want to go back.
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Postby Paco » Sun Apr 01, 2007 4:07 pm

ok, I added 1 day to CUZ, took one away form BA.

Arrival on a wed morn, leave on a monday morn. Wed & thur in Cuzco (which is HIGHER than MP, i thought it was the other way around.) fri & sat in Aguas C, sun back to CUZ & the market in Pisac. Tues in Lima.

How's that?? I want to be able to see it before and after the buses and trains leave. this will allow that.
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Postby robbie webber » Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:21 pm

You won't be sorry. TRY to take care of yourself with enough sleep before you get to Cuzco. Even if you have to take a sleeping pill to get some shut eye on the plane.

And don't forget - ask them to boil the coca leaves instead of just throwing them in the cup with the water.
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Postby Paco » Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:51 am

I wish I had more time down there, but my boss is a jerk. I'd like to do some of the jungle stuff, maybe next time.

Do you know a cheap hotel near the LIM airport?

Can you check your bags at midnight (I think it's Taca? or LanPeru) , for the 7am flight out of LIM? Sleeping at the McDonalds area with all that crap is iffy..

and one more...will me camera battery recharger (normal plug-110v?)work in Peru? Argentina??
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Postby robbie webber » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:38 am

Sorry, can't answer those questions. It's been over 10 years since I've been in Peru, and the hotel situation can change from one year to the next. I'm also sure the airport situation has changed. I never tried to recharge anything down there, or even took electrical appliances - I was traveling pretty bare bones or living with friends. Check the web.

Things may have improved since the dark days when I lived there, but one warning is that the pickpockets and thieves are the best you've ever seen. Do not ever lose physical contact with anything you want to keep. Never put something on the floor, chair, or table without putting your foot, arm, or other body part on top of it. That includes your time in the airport.

I swear, the pickpockets in Peru could strip a NY subway rider to his underwear, and he wouldn't notice until he hit the cold air.

I hope things are better now.
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Postby Mugsy23 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:55 am

http://www.andeantravelweb.com/peru/index.html

I used this website a lot when I was planning my trip to Peru. It might be helpful for finding an inexpensive hotel in Lima and other travel information.
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Postby mcmx » Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:35 am

Paco wrote:

Do you know a cheap hotel near the LIM airport?




I can't remember any hotels by the airport. I did research this before our trip last January.
I can highly recommend Hostal el Patio in Mireflores
http://www.hostalelpatio.net/. $30 to $40. They will fetch you at the airport for $13, and take you back for your flight to Cusco. Really nice place.
Aguas Calientes is very tourist oriented, kind of like the Dells of Peru. Many cheap and clean hostals there. We did the 2-day Inca Trail hike, which brings you over the Sun Gate to that classic view of MP. Easy 14 K the first day. You can book it in Cusco, and $175 fee includes guide, meals, train, cabs, and hostal. Hike is awesome.
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