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Machu Picchu acclimatization

Trip to Machu Picchu as acclimatization?

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Historical monument Machu Picchu - one of the 7 wonders of the world
Historical monument Machu Picchu - one of the 7 wonders of the world

Machu Picchu is a world-famous mysterious monument of the Inca era, located in the mountains of Peru, 80 km from the capital of the Cusco region and 520 km from Lima. Of course, visiting this wonderful object is of great interest; without any hesitation you can call Machu Picchu one of the key attractions of Peru and one of the 7 wonders of the world. However, in the context of the active tourism and mountaineering, often comes the question - how to combine sightseeing excursion to Machu Picchu with the other, more active parts of the tourist program?

Climbing Alpamayo in Peru - the most beautiful mountain in the world
Climbing Alpamayo in Peru - the most beautiful mountain in the world

The standard option - a trip to Cusco and an excursion to Machu Picchu are postponed to the final segment of the overall program, at a time when all the climbing, trekking and other mountain activities have already been completed. There is a certain reason for this - after all, for the majority of participants of my mountain programs in Peru, the main interest is in the active blocks of the program - climbing and trekking. The main part of the time is reserved for the ascents of the summits and general being in the mountains. The excursion of sightseeing part, especially such "resource-consuming" as Cusco and Machu Picchu, remains for the "dessert", or is undeservedly excluded from the overall plans.

Экскурсия в Мачу Пикчу - отличное дополнение к любым активным программам в Перу
Sightseeing excursion to Machu Picchu is a great addition to any active mountain programs in Peru

However, visiting Peru without the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu - such self-restraint can make your trip on its own lopsided. Still, for all its bright pop-tourist nature, an excursion to Machu Picchu significantly expands the horizons and makes it possible to experience vivid emotions even for the most experienced travelers. Denying yourself this experience is not always justified, even if you are not a fan of the most popular tourist destinations.

Восхождения в горах Перу - на вершине Альпамайо
Climbing in the mountains of Peru - on the summit of Mount Alpamayo

Based on my personal experience, I want to offer another, more rational (in my opinion) format for integrating an interesting excursion to Machu Picchu into the climbing or active mountain programs. The fact is that the Machu Picchu monument (and the entire Cusco region) are located significantly higher than the coastal zone of Peru, in the climatic zone called the Sierra - a high-altitude desert.

Endless expanses of the high Sierra in Peru
Endless expanses of the high Sierra in Peru

Absolute altitudes at this level range from 2800 m to 3800 m. In other words, staying in this region is associated with a certain high-altitude load on the body. From this point of view, a trip to Machu Picchu and an excursion program in the Cusco region can be considered as a pre-acclimatization program before the mountain ascents at the altitudes of 4-6000 m.

View of the beautiful Mount Alpamayo from the Alpamayo-Kitaraju pass
View of the beautiful Mount Alpamayo from the Alpamayo-Kitaraju pass

Such an approach makes it possible to more compactly and rationally distribute time and save space of the tourist program. It allows to integrate qualitatively the most interesting excursion block into the active mountain climbing program, to make it possible to go through the acclimatization process more smoothly and safely.

Cusco, Peru - the capital of the region of the same name, located at an altitude of 3300-3700 m
Cusco, Peru - the capital of the region of the same name, located at an altitude of 3300-3700 m

What do we need for this? First - to pay attention to the acclimatization schedule and follow the main general recommendations for preparing for the high altitude mountain programs:

  • Do not overload and do not force the schedule of the program, always leaving time for a good rest
  • Recover well after any stressful load
  • Avoid any overload of the body during the adaptation period
  • Avoid junk food, alcohol
  • Add light workouts to the list of the daily activities (intensive walking, short runs, general exercises in the gym)

Salt mines Urubamba (Maras) 40 kilometers from Cusco, at the altitude 3300 m
Salt mines Urubamba (Maras) 40 kilometers from Cusco, at the altitude 3300 m

It should not be forgotten that in addition to high-altitude and climatic stress loads on the body, many travelers to Peru face additional difficulties due to the transition to another time zone (UTC -4, the difference with Europe is 5 hours). As a rule, travelers need 3-5 days for the physiological processes in the body to adjust to a different time schedule.

Trekking and climbing in Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Trekking and climbing in Cordillera Blanca, Peru

That is also a good reason for choosing trip to Machu Picchu before the start of the active part of the mountain program. In this case, it is possible to recover, to pass the jet lag period and adapt smoothly to the new conditions in a comfortable environment and fascinating atmosphere of the most interesting excursions.

In summary, if you decide to include an excursion to Cusco and Machu Picchu in your active program in Peru (especially mountain climbing), you should consider a program schedule that begins, rather than ends with an excursion to Machu Picchu.

Don't delay your trip to Peru! They are waiting for you there!
Don't delay your trip to Peru! They are waiting for you there!

Author of text and photos Alex Trubachev
Your mountain Guide for Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile



Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.