In a country where almost one third of the territory is located over 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) above sea level, it should not come as a surprise that the altitude is something you may want to keep in mind. Almost 70% of the visitors to Peru will only feel some minor discomforts when arriving to high altitude for the first time and these discomforts can be headaches, shortness of breath, less appetite and perhaps some small stomach issues. In order to avoid having serious issues with the altitude we recommend the following guidelines;
· Take it easy for the first 24 hours at altitude -- don’t overexert yourself and don’t go any higher. This is particularly important if you’re arriving by plane.
· Avoid alcohol, tobacco and sleeping pills. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
· Eat high-carbohydrate foods (such as pasta, potatoes and bread).
· Drink coca tea or chew coca leaves upon arrival at altitude and during your stay.
· Medication is also an option. Acetazolamide (diamox) is the most common type of “soroche pill.” Further options exist, but they are no substitute for proper acclimatization. Always consult your doctor before taking altitude sickness medication.
With regards to vaccinations for Peru: this is of course a personal decision and therefore not easy to advise on. For Peru there are no obligatory vaccinations but the most common recommend ones are:
• Yellow Fever (only for trips to the Amazon Basin)
• Hepatitis A
For most jungle destinations in South America the Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended this is also the case for the Peruvian Jungle. Nevertheless; as it is important that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date travel health information taking into consideration any allergies, you should go for a personal consultation with a medical specialized person. As we are no medical professionals, this information is no substitute for obtaining accurate medical information. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic.
For more about health requirements: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationPeru.aspx
As with most diseases and illnesses, prevention is the most important. Therefore when arriving on altitude, try keeping the altitude in mind from the moment you arrive, making sure you do not overexert yourself the first day(s), drink plenty of water and eat light food. With these tips, most travelers will only have minor discomforts when arriving to altitude.
In the jungle (and also in a small amount in Machu Picchu) it is important to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Use good repellent (preferably with DEET) throughout the day and wear long sleeve shirts and trousers in the early morning or late afternoon.
Traveler’s stomach illnesses can also be an issue in some cases. Peru has an amazing kitchen but as cooking processes and ingredients vary from what you are used at home you may want to refrain from street food and restaurants that give the impression of not being the most hygienic. Most tourist restaurants are more than find and for some tips see the restaurant list on this page. It is also best to avoid tap water and to use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
Being a country with many days of sun throughout the year as well as altitudes make that protection from the sun is very important. In the highlands due to the clouds and winds one may not feel the sun as strong but the radiation in these parts of Peru is often more than double than on sea-level. Therefore it is important to use plenty of sunscreen with a good factor throughout your trip. This is also true for dry season trips to the jungle as well as the summer time on the coast.