This is the first of a three-part series on our adventures in Peru. It all began in May 2014 when my husband, Dale, and I traveled to Peru with our then 18 month old son, Christian. I was five months pregnant with our daughter at the time, which was a big deal considering every night of our 14 day vacation was spent above 9,100 feet elevation.
Our trip began in Cuzco, which is at 11,200 feet. Yah, you might as well start big, right? Then we stayed in the following cities with the noted elevations:
- Pisac, 9,751 feet
- Ollantaytambo, 9160 feet
- Puno, 12,556 feet
We stayed in Cuzco for five days to take a cooking class, fit in some site seeing, and of course get a couple of massages, but most importantly, to acclimate to the elevation. If we couldn’t adjust to the elevation in Cuzco, we would have to flee immediately to a lower elevation and refigure our plans for our stay in the country. We were relatively confident before we got to Peru, though, that we would all be okay with the altitude. This is a key thing to determine before arriving in Peru or you may have a miserable time since elevation sickness is not a great way to spend any vacation.
Lucky for us, we live in Southern California which is two to seven hours from a number of mountain ranges. By the time Christian arrived in Peru, he had already gone to Mammoth Lakes a few times, which is at 7,880 feet. Although this pales in comparison to the 11,200 feet we began at in Peru, Christian had no problem in Mammoth unlike some other people we know who have been unable to stay at that relatively low elevation. As for Dale and me, we did not have a history of altitude sickness even when we hiked to 16,400 feet in Ecuador. So finger crossed, we hoped we would acclimate quickly, which we did.
An added challenge for me as the pregnant woman that I was, came in the form of a very needy, mama’s boy. For some unknown reason, the instant we checked into our first hotel, Christian regressed in almost every imaginable way, including wanting to be held constantly by me. And of course he didn’t want to be held in the Ergo on my back – OH NO, that would be too comfortable for Mommy and the baby. Instead, he insisted on being in the Ergo on my front side, on top of my growing belly. Ugh. That was a tough one.
So if you plan on traveling to Peru, keep a few things in mind: 1) check the elevation of the cities you will be visiting; 2) visit other locations of a similar altitude before traveling there, or at least a high enough altitude to determine if you may get altitude sickness; 3) if you’re pregnant, take into consideration the thinner air and demands that your other children may place on you while there; and 4) don’t book out your entire trip as you may need to make a quick change of plans if you do not adjust well to the elevation (i.e., seek lower ground).
Thanks for taking some time out of your day to read my post. Keep checking back for these upcoming posts:
Monday, 9/19: A short story
Friday, 9/30: Tip #8 in my series, Kids are Portable
Tuesday, 10/11: Peru – A high elevation vacation, Part II