You will survive the altitude in the Andes

If you are thinking about traveling to Ecuador and visiting the Andes, you may have thought about altitude sickness and how it may affect you. It’s definitely an important topic to consider because Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where most international visitors first land it’s located at 2850 meters above sea level. Sounds high? Well this elevation may be way higher than the place where you live but no worries because it’s actually the perfect elevation at which visitors can adjust to the altitude before going higher in the country.

Keep reading to find out how to deal with the altitude and still have an enjoyable trip, which I promise you will 😉

What is altitude sickness

It’s a condition caused by getting exposed to high altitude without previously acclimatizing to the increase in elevation. It can occur in mountain areas above 2,500 meters where oxygen levels are lower than at sea level.

Most common signs and symptoms

If you experience altitude sickness you may feel:

Headache

Tiredness

Dizziness

Shortness of breath

Loss of appetite

Nausea or vomiting  

These are considered mild symptoms and you may feel them at elevations ranging from 2500 meters up to 3500 meters approximately. In fact, these are the typical symptoms that most travelers feel when they visit Quito. However, those who experience altitude sickness usually adjust to the altitude after 2 or 3 days.

The importance of climbing gradually

Altitude sickness is caused by getting to a high elevation too fast, so hence the importance of a gradual climb in order to get acclimatized. Your body usually needs a few days to get used to a change in altitude.

So, if you plan to visit the mountains and volcanoes in the Andes it would be important to stay in Quito for a couple of days prior to going further up. Then, your body will have time to adjust to the altitude and you will have the energy to go hiking in places like the Cotopaxi National Park!  

What to do if you have altitude sickness

Following some simple tips will help a lot overcome altitude sickness or even preventing it once you are in a high elevation place but have no symptoms. The recommendations are:

Drink plenty of water

Rest as much as possible

Do not go any higher for the next 48 hours

Eat small portions rather than a big meal

Do not exercise

Avoid drinking alcohol and don’t smoke

Always remember: Tell your tour leader or traveler companion about how you feel, altitude sickness shouldn’t be ignored. Rarely, symptoms may persist and in that case it’s very important to descend in altitude.

Now, I’d love to read your comments. Or if you have questions about this prior to your trip I would be very happy to answer them.

With my tour group at 3246 meters above sea level. Cuicocha lake – Ecuador

Sources

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/altitude-sickness/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/179819https://www.iamat.org/country/ecuador/risk/altitude-illness

Published by awesomecuador

I'm Liza Daniela Palacios. National tour guide of Ecuador and founder of Awesomecuador. My passion is to deliver nature-focused tours and to create opportunities for environmental awareness.

4 thoughts on “You will survive the altitude in the Andes

  1. Thank you for sharing! I travelled to the Andes in January 2015 and had the experience of a lifetime. I was surprised how many people shunned the idea due to altitude sickness. A little research and gradual exposure goes a long way – and your tips are clear and very attainable. Drinking lots of water will help your body in so many ways and cannot be stressed enough!

    Liked by 1 person

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