It's very possible that you'll feel ill as soon as you arrive in Cusco. Whatever you may have read or heard about altitude sickness is true -- for some people. At over 11,000 feet high, Cusco will try to break you. As soon as you step off of the plane in Cusco, you can definitely feel that the air is much, much thinner. The next few days can be pretty miserable, filled with piercing headaches, queasiness, loss of appetite, and general tiredness.
If you're looking for ways to avoid or minimize these effects, be sure to do some (or all) of the following:
1. Chlorophyll liquid drops
Before we went to Peru, we had a feeling that at least one of us would be chosen to feel this terrible altitude sickness, so of course, we did what you're doing and read every tip about how to avoid this. However, one of the remedies that was missing on nearly every list was, Chlorophyll drops. So this is how, and why, these drops work.
Essentially, as many of us know, Chlorophyll comes from plants and this is what plants use to absorb sunlight and convert that sunlight to energy. In humans, this same Chlorophyll derived from plants allows our cells to take in more....drum roll please....oxygen! Yay for science! Place a few drops of Chlorophyll into your water bottle or your tea and drink it throughout the day. Your body will be able to take in more oxygen in the thin air of Cusco.
How to use it:
For an entire liter of water, put a dropper full of Chlorophyll in and replenished throughout the day. It doesn't have much of a taste to it, a bit grassy if you're putting a lot into your drinks, but certainly not a terrible taste. In fact, these drops can easily be found with spearmint flavor added, so your water will just be a bit minty, and that's not bad at all!
Take your Chlorophyll drops with you and be sure to buy them at home before you leave. A small 2 oz bottle will last about two weeks.
2. Coca everything
Surely you've heard this one. Coca leaves are everywhere in Peru, and have been a sacred plant in Peru since about the beginning of time. Locals typically grab a handful and chew on them, or simply pour hot water over them and make a tea.
Of course, since Cusco is such a tourist city, they have damn near coca everything and you can find it in every market and vendor stand. An easy way to use coca leaves was in tea -- it tastes pretty good and seems to help a bit with the altitude sickness.
3. Basic nutrition
Yaya, we know...stupid suggestion. But, let us tell ya something. If you have altitude sickness, you'll probably be repulsed by the thought of eating or drinking anything. It was any food -- big, beautiful plates of eggs, or toast and sausage.
Or, dinner plates of rice, delicious smelling meat and wonderfully bright sauces. While they may smell heavenly and look even more delicious, you may only be able to choke down were a few bites before feeling nauseated. So listen here. If you're feeling sick, and the last thing you feel like doing is eating (and somehow, it will be) you have to. Have as many bites and sips of water or tea that you can stomach. Apparently, the human body requires nutrition, even when it doesn't sound appealing -- who knew?!
4. Stay away from alcohol (just for a bit)
This is a tough one, we know. You just met people from all over the world and everyone's going to the bar and you're all going to whoop it up.
Well, if you can manage, take it easy the first few nights and do yourself a favor and don't have too many. You may have two beers and the next day will feel like that morning after New Years Eve. We know you know what we're talkin' about.
5. Take it easy
The very last thing you'll want to do those first few days in Cusco is walk around town. It's tempting when you're in a new city and there's so many great things to see, but once again -- do yourself a favor. If the head splitting headache and literally gasping for air walking on a perfectly flat sidewalk should help you take it easy, but what we're saying here is, plan on taking it easy. Don't expect to hop off the plane, throw your bags in your hotel and immediately paint the town red.
We know how hard it is to get everything organized in life. Between working full-time, running errands, spending time with family + friends, and having a little bit of time for yourself -- the thought of alllllll the things that go into going on a trip can be majorly overwhelming.
That's why we put together an 11 page travel planning timeline to help you stay on track. Everything from when you should start saving for your trip, to when to purchase your international flights and get your home and bills taken care of while you're gone exploring the world! We don't mess around, because we know organization is life.