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Looking after yourself on your Machu Picchu trek

There are four things you need to make sure to avoid on your trek.  Altitude sickness, diarrhoea, malaria and dehydration. Detailed information about altitude sickness can be found here.

Avoiding diarrhoea

The most common health complaint for visitors to Peru is travellers' diarrhoea.  Anyone travelling to South America should bring a full course of antibiotics and an anti-diarrhoeal drug, and start them both promptly if they experience significant diarrhoea.

The good news is that the majority of Traveller’s Diarrhoea cases are quite mild, and don’t require either medication or antibiotics. Keeping yourself hydrated is often all it takes to get over it quickly. Medical attention is probably not needed unless diarrhoea is severe or bloody, you experience marked abdominal pain, or of it lasts more than three days running.

Better still, it is fairly easy to prevent if you follow certain precautions with your food and water fully and faithfully. Taking antibiotics prophylactically, though effective, is not advisable because of the risk of side effects. Of course, your own doctor will be able to provide advice specific to your medical circumstances. Prophylactic use may be appropriate for immunocompromised people, for example.

Avoiding malaria

There are two ways to avoid contracting malaria. The first is to take anti-malarial medicine. The second is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Peru has seen a sharp rise in malaria cases recently so you do need to be careful. Drugs to prevent malaria are generally advisable for anyone visiting places

The highland areas popular with tourists and trekkers (Machu Picchu itself, Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and the Inca Trail) are generally too high for mosquitoes to live but you should check out your detailed travel plan with your medical adviser.

Protecting yourself from mosquitoes is vital whenever in a malaria-prone area, even if you are taking anti-malaria medications.

Bring plenty of insect repellent, and make sure it is a maximum-strength brand containing DEET. While there are a few people who feel DEET is not completely safe, we have certainly never had any trouble with it, and malaria is nothing to take chances with.

Dealing with malaria If you do get it is complicated. If you are expecting to remain in country for some time or will otherwise be far from medical care, you should bring medications to treat malaria with you. The symptoms of malaria include headache and muscle aches, fever and chills. If you experience these symptoms at any time after visiting a malaria-prone area and do not expect to be able to get proper medical care within 24 hours, begin treating yourself for malaria immediately.

Staying hydrated

Throughout the year it is pretty hot on all of the Inca trails and it is really important that you stay well hydrated.  Drink plenty with all meals and drink at least 2 litres of water while you are hiking. The symptoms of dehydration can easily be mistaken for altitude sickness and in order that we can monitor you for this you need to be sure that the problem you have is not just due to drinking insufficient water. If you pee is darker than straw coloured you need to drink more.

Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our team.
Sarah BW

Sarah Orson

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499980

RB BW crop sml

Rachael Bode

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: + 44 1283 499982

SK BW crop sml

Sharon King

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499981

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