The Breathtaking Elevation of Machu Picchu and Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness

Visiting Machu Picchu can be a breathtaking adventure, but its high elevation might pose challenges. Perched 7,972 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this ancient Incan citadel is an intriguing blend of history and mystery.

This article offers essential tips to prepare you for the Elevation of Machu Picchu, helping you enjoy your trip without succumbing to Altitude Sickness. Get ready; we’re about to elevate your knowledge on acclimatizing at Machu Picchu’s lofty heights!

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Key Takeaways

  • Machu Picchu is located at an elevation of 7,972 feet above sea level (2,430 m) in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
  • The high elevation can cause altitude sickness, with symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
  • To acclimate to the elevation and prevent altitude sickness, gradually adjust to the height by spending time in Cusco before visiting Machu Picchu, stay well-hydrated, eat a balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates and electrolytes, consider medication if needed after consulting a doctor.

The Location of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu sits in the lofty Andes Mountains of Peru. It is a part of the South Eastern Andes of Peru. This Inca citadel was hidden from westerners until 1911 even after Spaniards conquered Cusco in the 16th century.

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When you plan to visit, you often travel from Cusco city. The views on this journey are a sight to behold! You will see stunning peaks and get a peek into the ancient world of the Incan people.

The Elevation of Machu Picchu

elevation of machu picchu

Machu Picchu is very high up. It sits 7,972 feet above sea level. This is almost one and a half miles! Can you picture it? That’s really quite high.

People don’t need extra oxygen at this height. But you might still feel sick from the altitude. Some people get headaches or feel tired.

Another place to visit there is Machu Picchu Mountain. This peak stands even taller than the city itself! Its top reaches 10,111 feet above sea level.

Why is the Elevation of Machu Picchu Significant?

Why is the Elevation of Machu Picchu Significant

The high height of Machu Picchu is crucial to it’s importance as a sacred site to the Incas. It plays a role in its history, weather, and how one feels while there. The ancient Inca people built this city up high to keep it safe.

It stayed hidden for many years because of the tall mountains around it. The weather at this height can change fast. It can be sunny one moment and rainy the next.

Being so high also affects those who visit it. At this height, the air is thin with less oxygen to breathe in than lower sites. This can make you feel tired or cause altitude sickness for some people.

But don’t let that scare you off! With the right prep steps before your trip, anyone can enjoy this stunning place safely!

The Impact of High Elevation on the Body

High elevation can affect your body in many ways. The air gets thinner as you go up. This means that there is less oxygen to breathe. Your body has to work harder for the oxygen it needs.

This might make you feel very tired and short of breath.

Altitude sickness is a common problem at high places like Machu Picchu. You may get headachesfeel sick or dizzy, and not want to eat much food. These are all signs that your body is having trouble with the thin air at high elevations.

If you start feeling these things, tell someone right away so they can help you.

How to Prepare for the High Elevation of Machu Picchu?

Prepare for the high elevation of Machu Picchu by gradually acclimatizing, staying hydrated, eating properly, and considering medication.

Gradual Acclimatization

To prepare your body for the high elevation of Machu Picchu, it’s important to acclimate gradually. Spending a few days in Cusco before hiking can help you adjust to the altitude. This allows your body time to produce more red blood cells and increase oxygen flow, which can reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Take it easy during these initial days and avoid strenuous activities. By giving yourself time to adapt, you’ll be better equipped to explore the stunning ancient ruins without feeling overwhelmed by the elevation.

When planning your trip to Peru try to give yourself at least 2 full days in Cusco before setting out on any strenous tours or hikes such as the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek. When visiting Rainbow Mountain make sure you leave this for the end of your stay in Cusco as this is the highest tour there is in the area, reaching a whopping 17,100 ft (5,200 m)!


Staying hydrated is crucial when dealing with high elevation, like Machu Picchu. Drinking plenty of water helps your body adjust to the altitude and reduces the risk of altitude sickness.

Remember to drink fluids regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can cause dehydration. Stay hydrated by drinking water or herbal tea, and consider consuming electrolyte drinks to replenish minerals lost through sweating at high elevations.

Proper hydration is one of the key factors in preparing for Machu Picchu’s high elevation. It helps your body adapt better, minimizes altitude sickness symptoms such as headaches or fatigue, and improves overall physical performance during trekking or hiking activities.

Proper Nutrition

To prepare for the high elevation of Machu Picchu, proper nutrition is essential. Eating healthy foods can help your body cope with the challenges of altitude. Make sure to include plenty of vitamin C, iron, and potassium in your diet to support red blood cell production and cardiovascular fitness.

It’s also important to consume carbohydrate-rich foods for energy, along with healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Lean proteins will help repair tissues and build muscle strength.

Stay hydrated by drinking water or electrolyte drinks throughout the day. By nourishing your body with the right nutrients, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy your visit to this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the Andes Mountains of Peru.


If you’re worried about altitude sickness when visiting Machu Picchu, you might consider taking medication. There are different medications available that can help alleviate symptoms before your trip.

However, it’s important to note that the article doesn’t provide specific recommendations or information on these medications. Instead, it suggests natural remedies like drinking muña tea or coca tea.

While medication is an option, other methods such as gradual acclimatization and staying hydrated are also recommended to prepare for the high elevation of Machu Picchu.

If you need to visit a Pharmacy while in Peru we recommend Inkafarma, they are the most popular and trustworthy pharmacy chain in Peru and in Cusco some of their staff will even speak English. Inkafarma will carry most medications and even have oxygen for sale.

Common Symptoms of Altitude Sickness at Machu Picchu

The Impact of High Elevation on the Body

Altitude sickness, also known as “soroche,” is a common concern for travelers visiting Machu Picchu. Here are some common symptoms to be aware of:

  1. Headaches
  2. Nausea
  3. Dizziness
  4. Fatigue
  5. Shortness of breath

Preventing Altitude Sickness at Machu Picchu

To prevent altitude sickness at Machu Picchu, follow these tips:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Take it easy and avoid overexertion, especially during the first few days at high elevation.
  • Gradually acclimate to the altitude by spending a couple of days in Cusco or other high-altitude areas before visiting Machu Picchu.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, as they can worsen symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Eat a balanced diet with foods rich in carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins, and electrolytes to support your body at high elevation.
  • Consider taking medication such as acetazolamide or ibuprofen as recommended by your doctor to help prevent altitude sickness.

What to Do if You Experience Altitude Sickness at Machu Picchu?

If you experience altitude sickness at Machu Picchu, here are some steps to take:

  • Rest: Take breaks and allow your body to adjust to the high altitude.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and combat symptoms.
  • Descend: If your symptoms don’t improve, it’s best to descend to lower elevations.
  • Seek medical help: If your symptoms worsen or persist, seek medical assistance.
  • Consider medication: Consult with a healthcare professional about using medications like acetazolamide or ibuprofen to alleviate symptoms.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine: These can worsen dehydration and exacerbate altitude sickness.
  • Eat light meals: Stick to easily digestible foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups.
  • Use coca tea: This traditional remedy can help alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to how you’re feeling and don’t push yourself too hard.

Interesting Facts About Machu Picchu

  • Machu Picchu is located at an elevation of 7,972 feet (2,430m) above sea level.
  • The mountain next to the ruins, called Machu Picchu Mountain, has an elevation of 10,111 feet (3,082 meters).
  • Oxygen is not usually needed at this elevation, but altitude sickness can still occur.
  • Visitors often travel from the city of Cusco, which has an elevation of 11,152 feet (3,399 meters).
  • Machu Picchu was not discovered by westerners until 1911, even though the Spanish conquered Cusco in the 16th century.
  • The ruins of Machu Picchu are located in the South Eastern Cordillera of the Andes Mountains in Peru.
  • The Incan empire built Machu Picchu as a place of worship and a citadel to protect against invaders.
  • The temperature at higher elevations can be cooler and more unpredictable than at sea level.
  • Machu Picchu is surrounded by stunning Andean views and lush landscapes.
  • Despite its high elevation, Machu Picchu attracts millions of visitors each year.

Machu Picchu Elevation: Frequently Asked Questions

Travelers often have many questions about the elevation of Machu Picchu. To help you better prepare for your visit, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

What is the elevation of Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu sits at an elevation of 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level.

Do I need to worry about altitude sickness at Machu Picchu?

Yes, even though oxygen is typically not needed at this elevation, altitude sickness can still be experienced due to the thin air.

What is the elevation of the city of Cusco?

The city of Cusco, often used as a base for Machu Picchu visits, stands at an elevation of 3,399 meters (11,152 feet).

What is the elevation of Machu Picchu Mountain?

Machu Picchu Mountain, located next to the ruins, has an elevation of 3,082 meters (10,111 feet).

When was Machu Picchu discovered?

Although Cusco was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, Machu Picchu was not discovered by westerners until 1911.

Why was Machu Picchu built?

The purpose of Machu Picchu remains a mystery, but it is believed to have been a place of worship for the Incan people and a resort to the Inca Emperor.

How does high altitude impact visitors to Machu Picchu?

The high elevation of Machu Picchu could cause acute mountain sickness due to less oxygen at high altitude. Visitors may take Dexamethasone or Anti-nausea medication.

Can I hike to reach Machu Picchu?

Surely! You can take an exciting train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes or walk along the famous Inca Trail while appreciating ancient ruins and beautiful Andean views.

What should I bring for my visit during rainy seasons in Inca sites?

Waterproof hiking boots and rain ponchos are recommended, cheap plastic ponchos are sold in Aguas Calientes. Check out our guide on what to wear at Machu Picchu.

What kind of food do I try when visiting Peru for exploring pre-Inca and colonial period sites such as Machú Pichú?

Try various Peruvian dishes which showcase rich Peruvian culture and gastronomy including Chicha from chicherias around Sacred Valley after a long day ascending peaks. Don’t miss out on these 10 Must Try Foods in Peru.


In conclusion, Machu Picchu’s elevation of 7,972 feet above sea level is truly breathtaking. This magnificent Inca citadel nestled in the Andes Mountains offers stunning views and a rich history to explore.

However, it’s important to be prepared for the high elevation and potential altitude sickness symptoms. With proper preparation and care, visitors can fully enjoy this remarkable wonder of the world.

So get ready to discover the wonders waiting at Machu Picchu!

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