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The Inca Trail is a legendary trek that winds through the Andes Mountains in Peru and ends at the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. It’s a challenging journey that takes hikers through rugged terrain, steep inclines, and high altitudes, reaching a maximum altitude of 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level. In this blog, we’ll explore the altitude on the Inca Trail and how to prepare for it.

Altitude and Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a common problem for hikers on the Inca Trail. It occurs when hikers ascend too quickly to high altitudes, and the body does not have enough time to acclimate to the thinner air and lower oxygen levels. The symptoms of AMS include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath.


Preparing for Altitude

To prepare for the altitude on the Inca Trail, it’s essential to start a few weeks before the trek. Here are some tips for preparing for altitude:

  1. Get in Shape: Being physically fit can help reduce the risk of AMS. It’s essential to start an exercise program at least four weeks before the trek, including cardio, strength training, and hiking.
  2. Hydration: It’s crucial to stay hydrated while hiking at high altitudes. Drink at least three to four liters of water per day and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
  3. Acclimatize: Spend at least two days in Cusco, which is at an altitude of 3,400 meters (11,150 feet), before starting the Inca Trail. This will allow your body to adjust to the altitude slowly.
  4. Medications: Consult with your doctor before the trek to see if you need to take any medications for altitude sickness.

During the Trek

During the trek, it’s essential to pace yourself and take breaks when needed. Hike at a slow and steady pace, and don’t try to keep up with other hikers who may be acclimated to the altitude. Drink plenty of water and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your energy levels up.

If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, it’s essential to communicate with your guide and take appropriate action. The guide may recommend descending to a lower altitude or resting for a day before continuing the trek.


The Inca Trail is a challenging trek that takes hikers to high altitudes, and altitude sickness is a common problem. To prepare for the altitude, it’s essential to start a few weeks before the trek, get in shape, stay hydrated, and acclimate slowly. During the trek, it’s essential to pace yourself and communicate with your guide if you experience any symptoms of altitude sickness. With proper preparation and care, you can enjoy the stunning views and ancient ruins on the Inca Trail while staying safe and healthy.