Managing altitude whilst travelling in South America

Reducing the effects of altitude

South America Travel Centre

A large part of the South American continent has an altitude in excess of 2,500 metres (8,000 feet). Whilst not ‘high’ when considering places like Nepal it’s high enough that you can start to feel the effects; shortness of breath when climbing steps or other forms of stronger physical exercise, and often the most troubling less restful sleep. There are several things that can be done to help reduce the effects.

Cusco in Peru – Altitude 3,399 m
What you can do

1. Keep well hydrated, drink more water than you would normally and reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you have (both dehydrate you a little and can make any symptoms worse).

2. Eat smaller meals, particularly at dinner time.

3.  Don’t rush your itinerary; with appropriate time and intelligent planning most of the effects can be managed.

What we do

With over 25 years of experience in travelling and trekking in South America (as well as places like Nepal) we know that the effects of altitude vary significantly; even clients who’ve had no issues on a previous trip suddenly find they are affected, as a result we:

  1.  Plan all itineraries to give you time to acclimatise.
  2. We gradually have you staying at higher elevations to give your body the necessary time to change and become used to the lower pressure and the slight decline in oxygen levels. For most people that’s enough to allow your body to change, to acclimatise, and you’ll be fine.
  3. Consider staying at hotels that offer oxygenated rooms that afford a full and restful night’s sleep
Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco offers rooms with ‘added’ oxygen
What some properties and operators do

Several hotels in Peru (Cusco & Puno) and operators in Chile & Bolivia have oxygen on hand to help if you start to feel the effects more strongly. Some hotels have the option to increase oxygen supply to your room at night which often helps with a good night’s rest.
Please also discuss the possible effects of altitude with your doctor.

A combination of all of the above (what you can do when you are in country, what we do when planning/organising your trip and what hotels and our operators can do we’re as confident as we can be that you’ll manage any effects and be left to enjoy a wonderful time exploring.

A well planned holiday = an enjoyable holiday

Contact South America Travel Centre 1300 784 794 or email:

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