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Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Altitude

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Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Altitude

Machu Picchu stands as one of the most renowned and sought-after destinations on South America tours. Nestled in the breathtaking Peruvian Andes, this Inca city has captivated global travelers for decades. However, the history of Machu Picchu is far more ancient and captivating than many visitors might assume.


The Andes in Peru are a sight to behold, with their majestic peaks taking one's breath away. As the longest and highest mountain range in South America, the Andes, or Cordillera de los Andes, provide a stunning backdrop.


A journey to Machu Picchu, the iconic Inca city, is a highlight of any Peru trip. Reach the summit of the mountain where Machu Picchu resides amidst the Andes, consider traversing the Peruvian jungle and ascending the ancient stone stairs that wind high along the mountains.


Today, Machu Picchu stands as one of the world's most visited archaeological sites and holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Each day, up to 4,500 people ascend through the ancient walls, adding to the rich tapestry of its history


Machu Picchu Altitude

Machu Picchu is perched at an altitude of 2,430 meters above sea level, with the iconic Huayna Picchu towering in front, reaching a peak of 2,720 meters above sea level. Despite your physical fitness, symptoms of altitude sickness, known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), may manifest at this elevation. Typically occurring when surpassing 2,500 meters above sea level, especially for those arriving from lower altitudes, AMS is a risk to consider. The summits of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are the areas where visitors are most susceptible to this condition. It's crucial to note, however, that statistically, very few visitors to the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu actually experience altitude sickness.

Machu Picchu altitude


Machu Picchu Elevation in feet

The elevation of Machu Picchu is approximately 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level.

Machu Picchu Elevation


Huayna Picchu Altitude

The altitude of Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu, is approximately 2,720 meters (8,924 feet) above sea level. Here's a brief description:


The ascent to the summit of Huayna Picchu is a challenging but rewarding climb, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Andean landscape.


The hike is often steep and involves narrow pathways, so it's important to be physically fit and comfortable with heights. The climb is a popular activity for those seeking a more adventurous experience during their visit to Machu Picchu.


Mount Machu Picchu Altitude

The altitude of Mount Machu Picchu, also known as Machu Picchu Mountain, is approximately 3,082 meters (10,111 feet) above sea level. This mountain is located near the Machu Picchu citadel in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Climbing Mount Machu Picchu offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the iconic Inca ruins and the lush, mountainous terrain. It's a popular trek for those seeking a higher vantage point to appreciate the beauty of the Machu Picchu archaeological site and its natural surroundings


Altitude Sickness Machu Picchu

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur when individuals ascend to higher altitudes too quickly, and the body doesn't have enough time to adjust to the reduced oxygen levels in the air. The elevation of Machu Picchu, situated in the Andes Mountains in Peru, is approximately 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. While this is not extremely high, some individuals may still experience symptoms of altitude sickness.


Symptoms of altitude sickness can include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. It's important to note that altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level, age, or health. Factors such as the speed of ascent, duration of exposure to high altitudes, and individual susceptibility all play a role.


Inca Trail Altitude

Standing at 2,400 meters, Machu Picchu is one of the lowest Inca Trail altitude points. The highest point on the Inca Trail is Abra Warmihuañusca or 'Dead Woman's Pass which is located at 4,200 meters.


Most of the Machu Picchu hiking tours begin in Cusco, which, at 3,400 meters, is already considerably higher than Machu Picchu. By staying there before your walk, you will give your body time to acclimate to the altitude of the Inca Trail. 


The Inca Trail altitude varies greatly throughout the walk and your body will notice the differences, especially at the highest points. 


The 4-Day Inca Trail begins at a place called Km 82 at 2,600 meters and descends slowly downwards during the morning before ascending in the afternoon to Yuncachimpa at 3,152 meters. Although this is an altitude high enough to cause altitude sickness, if you have spent several days in Cusco beforehand, you will be fine at this time.


The second day is the most difficult on the Inca Trail, as it is spent ascending over the Dead Woman Pass at 4,200 meters. It is almost certain that your body feels the effects of altitude here since the air provides less oxygen than your body is used to. You do not spend much time at this altitude and for the rest of the day, you pass by descending to 3,600 meters where you will camp in Chaquiccocha. 


From Chaquiccocha it is generally easy to go as you descend to the Sun Gate and then to Machu Picchu, where the Inca Trail comes to an end.


Inca Trail Altitude 


Cusco - KM-82 - Wayllabamba 

Difficulty level: Easy 

Maximum altitude: 3000m

Minimum altitude: 2600m

Distance traveled: 9 km 

Approximate walking time: 5-6 hours


Wayllabamba - Paso Warmiwañusca - Paccaymayu 

Level of difficulty: Difficult 

Maximum altitude: 4600m 

Minimum altitude: 3000m 

Distance traveled: 12KM

Approximate walking time: 6-7 hours 


Paccaymayu - Runkuraqhay Pass - Phuyupatamarka - Wiñayhuayna 

Difficulty level: moderate 

Maximum altitude: 4000m 

Minimum altitude: 2650m 

Distance traveled: 16 km 

Approximate walking time: 8 hours 


Wiñayhuayna - Inti Punku (Sun Gate) - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo - Cusco 

Difficulty level: Easy 

Maximum altitude: 2650m

Minimum altitude: 2100m 

Distance traveled: 6 km 

Approximate walking time: 2 hours


Inca Trail altitude



Short Inca Trail Altitude 

If you do not have enough time to do the 4-day Inca Trail, or you could not make your Inca trail Book 2023 on time, the Short Inca Trail is a good option, it is a stretch of the Inca Trail. The 2 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu starts at Km 104 of the Cusco - Aguas Calientes railway line.  


Km 104 - Wiñayhuayna - Inti Punku (Sun Gate) - Machu Picchu 

Level of difficulty: The first hours of walking is a constant climb, then the trail becomes easier, although with sections of some difficulty. 

Maximum Altitude: 2,650 m / 8,694 ft

Minimum altitude: 2,400 m / 7,874 ft 

Distance traveled: 13 km / 8,08 miles 

Approximate walking time: 6 - 7 hours 


Andes Mountains Machu Picchu

The Andes Mountains in Peru are the longest mountain range in South America, stretching approximately 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) along the western edge of the continent. Machu Picchu itself is nestled within the eastern slopes of the Andes, providing a stunning backdrop to this ancient Inca citadel.


The Andes Mountains are known for their diverse ecosystems, ranging from high-altitude alpine environments to tropical rainforests. The Andes Machu Picchu is located at an altitude of about 2,430 meters (7,972 feet), represents a remarkable blend of natural beauty and archaeological marvels.


Acute Mountain Disease 

Also called, as acute altitude sickness, means that the onset is sudden, begins as something light, moderate and gradually, the symptoms are taxed, the same ones that if they are not treated, they get bigger and can become an acute illness.


In general, to be affected by altitude sickness, it must be above 2,500 meters. Therefore, while Machu Picchu is below this point, Dead Woman's Pass is high enough to cause symptoms of altitude sickness. 


The demand of the muscles depends on the level of activity, but the brain needs a large amount of oxygen (15% of the total). If the brain lacks oxygen for the speed with which it was promoted and made a great effort, it will have the following symptoms:  

  • Difficulty to sleep 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Inappetence 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Fast pulse 
  • Difficulty breathing 


To anticipate the MAM, it is recommended: 

  • Ascend the mountain gradually, resting and follow the guide's instructions; sleep at a lower height and above all, learn to recognize the first symptoms of mountain sickness. 
  • See, with your doctor there are drugs that can help you get used to higher altitudes. 
  • When climbing, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, consume carbohydrate-rich foods. 


How to prevent and manage the MAM in the trip to the Inca Trail? 

  • Prepare your body and physical state in advance. If possible, stop smoking. 
  • Consider spending at least 2 days in a city at high altitude, before starting the Inca Trail. 
  • Drink enough liquid (3 to 4 liters per day), especially water 
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills. 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. 
  • Eat small portions of food frequently, even if you do not have an appetite, avoid excess salt. 
  • If you have symptoms of altitude sickness, you should rest and not ascend, unless you have fully recovered.

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