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Inca trail altitude sickness

  • Inca Trail Specialist
  • Updated: May 27, 2022

Inca trail hike altitude sickness

The Inca Trail is a challenging trek that takes you through rugged terrain and high altitudes. As you make your way to Machu Picchu, you’ll be exposed to altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS). AMS is a common condition that affects many hikers on the Inca Trail, and it’s important to be aware of its symptoms and how to prevent it. In this blog, we’ll explore altitude sickness and provide tips on how to manage it during your Inca Trail adventure.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is a condition that occurs when your body struggles to adapt to the lower air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes. The most common symptoms of AMS include headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. If left untreated, AMS can lead to more severe conditions, such as high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).


How to manage altitude sickness on the Inca Trail

Here are some tips to manage altitude sickness during your Inca Trail adventure:

  1. Acclimate to the altitude. Before embarking on the Inca Trail, spend at least two days in Cusco to acclimate to the high altitude. During this time, avoid strenuous activities and stay hydrated.
  2. Take it slow. During the first day of the Inca Trail, take it slow and allow your body to adjust to the altitude. Walk at a comfortable pace and take breaks as needed.
  3. Drink plenty of water. It’s essential to stay hydrated while hiking at high altitudes. Drink at least three to four liters of water per day to prevent dehydration.
  4. Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness, so it’s best to avoid them while on the trail.
  5. Consider medication. If you’re prone to altitude sickness, consider taking medication such as acetazolamide to prevent its onset.
  6. Listen to your body. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, it’s important to listen to your body and rest. Don’t push yourself too hard, and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen.


Altitude sickness is a common condition that affects many hikers on the Inca Trail. By acclimating to the altitude, taking it slow, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, considering medication, and listening to your body, you can manage the symptoms of AMS and enjoy a safe and memorable Inca Trail adventure.