November 30, 2013
A lot of the questions I receive are about how to prepare for OAT adventures. While how and what to pack in luggage is the most popular inquiry, other trips may require a bit more information, especially how to prepare for the Peru portion of Machu Picchu & the Galapagos. Many travelers ask about the physical requirements, and this month I answer a question from first-time travelers Jeff Drake and his wife Lisa of Beaverton, Oregon.
Q: How hard is it to hike around such high altitudes?
A: Hi Jeff,
I love this trip because the itinerary is planned to get travelers acclimatized to higher altitudes by first spending a full day in Sacred Valley . Because you’re at a lower elevation than Cuzco (8,500 feet as opposed to 11,000), you’ll get acclimatized to the thinner air. You’ll also spend time in Ollantaytambo , too, before your train ride to the sacred ruins at Machu Picchu. By starting off gradually, most travelers on Machu Picchu & the Galapagos avoid the common symptoms of acute mountain sickness (which commonly include headaches and nausea).
Because each person’s body is different, you can ask your doctor for altitude medicine before departing if you’ve had issues with higher altitudes before (many travelers bring it just in case, but find themselves pleasantly surprised that they don't need to use it due to the gradual acclimatization). You can also “do as the locals do” and try either sipping coca tea or chewing coca leaves to relieve some symptoms.
If you have additional questions, our Adventure Specialists are used to fielding questions about the physical needs of our trips at 1-800-955-1925. As always, you may consult the “Is this Adventure Right for You?” section of our website, accessible by clicking here. Or, read the guidelines in our Machu Picchu & the Galapagos Traveler Handbook by clicking here.
Letters to Harriet
OAT is all about taking you down the road less traveled, and after decades of the country being closed to the public, our Colombia trip is garnering lots of interest from those seeking a new adventure (we are one of just a few travel companies offering an itinerary like this). I was pleased to receive this correspondence from 21-time traveler Lorraine Banfi of Jackson, N.J., who said there’s no time like the present to explore Colombia’s Colonial Jewels & the Coffee Triangle.
I just returned from this trip and it was wonderful. If you want to visit a country that hasn't been run over by tourists this is the place. The hotels were located within walking distances of the historic areas, and I never felt afraid. The hacienda in the Coffee Triangle was especially nice. … The people were welcoming and our guide Edgar was exceptional. Now is the time to go…
Thank you for sharing your experience, Lorraine—it’s obvious that as a 21-time traveler, you’re well-versed in adventurousness! Colombia is a particularly great place to explore now because it’s going through a wonderful cultural renaissance, but hasn’t been overrun by tourists. It’s a great place for OAT to offer those unique cultural experiences—including conversations about controversial topics—that travelers like you love so much. I’m so glad that you enjoyed your accommodations, too, because OAT take great care to vet each location and make sure it’s comfortable and close (or easily accessible) to everything you’d like to see in your free time. I agree with you—there’s nothing like visiting a place before other travelers catch on, so now’s a great time to reserve a trip to this unspoiled land.
Have you been on an adventure recently for which you’d like to share feedback? Please email me at email@example.com.