Completing the Inca Trail is not an easy task. During the route, health problems are possible. The inconvenience that most visitors suffer is the famous altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness. In addition, certain accidents may occur as a result of walking. Know what they are and how best to prevent them.
The Inca Trail is a route considered safe for all walkers. They all manage to complete the walk satisfactorily. However, due to the Andean geography that it crosses, it is possible to suffer some health problems such as: mountain sickness, dehydration, muscle contusions and sprains. In any of these cases, the tourist guides have knowledge and first aid equipment to assist the tourist. That is why the risks during this route are minimal.
Disease prevention on the trip to Peru
- Before making the trip to Peru to complete the Inca Trail, it is advisable to consult with your doctor if there is any inconvenience in doing this walk.
- This especially for adults over 60 and people with heart problems. Remember that the Inca Trail takes place in a mountainous geography up to 4,200 meters above sea level.
- Likewise, it is necessary to have all the pertinent information about the vaccination program in Peru. If you have already supplied some vaccines, we remind you to always carry your respective card.
- If you are traveling to the Peruvian jungle, it is recommended that you learn about malaria and how to prevent it. Malaria is a life-threatening disease, it is easy to prevent, but difficult to treat. Some people, especially on long trips, prefer to get vaccinated to prevent this disease.
- Finally, it is important to present a healthy diet before the trip to Peru. Also be in good physical condition. Although anyone can go and complete the Inca Trail, a good diet and a healthy physical condition help a lot to complete the route without setbacks.
What health problems are common on the Inca Trail?
These are some of the most common health problems on the route:
- Mountain sickness.
- Simple muscle injuries.
Mountain sickness during the Inca Trail
- Mountain sickness is the main health problem during the Inca Trail.
- It is estimated that 90% of people who visit Cusco suffer from the mild symptoms of altitude sickness, which are: headache, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and, above all, excessive agitation when making physical effort.
- Only people who come from a mountainous region can better cope with the symptoms of altitude sickness. In any case, the symptoms usually disappear gradually as the person adapts to the geography of Cusco.
- After 2 or 3 days of acclimatization in Cusco, tourists can better adapt to the geography of Cusco. This reduces the symptoms of altitude sickness.
- The highest point of the route is on the second day. It is the Warmiwañusca pass located at 4,200 meters above sea level. The last two days the altitude decreases and the symptoms of altitude sickness also.
- In any case, to reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness it is recommended to drink plenty of water (not alcoholic beverages) and avoid foods with abundant fat.
Some possible accidents during the walk
In general, the Inca Trail is a safe route. However, there is always the possibility of suffering some accidents on the road, such as:
- Dehydration – The fatigue produced by the 39 kilometers of roads can cause dehydration in tourists. The maximum temperature during the route can reach 23ºC. Therefore, it is advisable to drink plenty of water. This helps to improve the physical performance of the visitors.
- Bruises – The trails built by the Incas are made of stone and earth. Although these are in good condition, there are also sections damaged by the passage of time. Thus, some tourists often stumble causing bruises and bruises on the knees and calves. It is recommended to use rubber-tipped poles and special hiking shoes. This helps prevent possible falls.
- Simple muscle injuries – The physical exhaustion caused by walking can cause muscular injuries of various types. Most are simple injuries such as cramps, stretches, or contractions. It is recommended to do the walk according to the physical condition of each person. It’s not a good idea to push yourself physically.
- Sprains – Falls or slips while walking can also stretch or tear the bones, usually causing simple sprains. The tour guides have a first aid kit to help the visitor to finish the walk and seek medical attention in the nearest place.
Symptoms of altitude sickness
Some healthy recommendations for the walk
- Solar radiation is high throughout Cusco. Therefore the use of sunscreen is very necessary. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest at altitude. If you consider it necessary, it is also a good idea to wear sunglasses.
- Mosquitoes can be not only uncomfortable but dangerous on the road. In some cases these insects can transmit diseases. Therefore it is advisable to use mosquito repellent. It is also advisable to wear long-sleeved polo shirts and avoid shorts. This way you will have the body more protected against their bites.
- Protect your lips against the dryness of the Andean climate. In any pharmacy you can buy ‘cocoa butter’ that when smeared on the lips, helps prevent dryness.
- Chewing coca leaves helps tourists maintain energy during the Inca Trail. This leaf was considered sacred in Inca times. It has stimulating properties helping to fight hunger, thirst and fatigue. These sheets can be purchased in any market in the city of Cusco.
By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 30-09-2021
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