Peru with Maureen Keegan
14-21 October 2023

Get ready for a week-long physically-challenging trip to Peru! We’ll spend three days hiking through an off-the-beaten path trek in the Andes mountains, visiting local villages and homes along the way, two nights of which we will be camping out in tents. These are real tents, not glamping tents à la Morocco, but they will be full-service, ie porters will carry our gear and set up our tents before we reach the campsite and take them down for us after we leave. Our meals will be prepared for us by staff in a kitchen tent and we will eat in a dining tent with tables and chairs. There will also be a bathroom tent - but again, we will be sleeping in regular old North Face two-person tents. We will be given thermarests and pillows but will have to bring our own sleeping bags and hiking poles (but I can also offer the option of renting these for whomever might prefer not to bring their own). The rest of our accommodations will be in upgraded hotels. 

This retreat is ideal for anyone who wants to experience Peru’s rich culture, see and learn a bit about the history of Cusco, see lots and lots of alpacas and other animals and, drumroll please, visit Machu Picchu! This retreat is not for people who like to sleep in...there will be a lot of early mornings!

*Please note that Cusco is located at an altitude of 2,430 metres above sea level - and Machu Picchu is located at an elevation of 3,399 metres. 

When we are at higher altitudes, the air pressure drops and there is less oxygen available. Acute mountain altitude sickness typically occurs at heights of 2,500 metres and above, which puts people - no matter how fit they are - at risk. The higher you go above sea level, the less oxygen there is to breathe. When you reach elevations above 2,000 metres (6,500 feet), your body doesn't always adjust quickly enough to the decrease in oxygen. This can lead to altitude sickness, which is actually a group of potentially life-threatening ailments. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the most common type. Other forms of altitude sickness attack the lungs and brain.

Anyone can develop altitude sickness. Not everyone gets it; the effects of altitude vary from one person to the next. Some adjust to the decrease in oxygen more easily than others. But the higher and faster a person climbs, the more likely altitude sickness will develop. About 20% of people who ascend above 2,500 metres (8,000 feet) in a day and about 40% of people who ascend above 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in a day will experience symptoms. Children are the most susceptible. Surprisingly, the risk is twice as high for people under the age of 60 years.

To reduce our risk of getting altitude sickness, the best thing we can do is be gentle on ourselves the first couple of days and so we will take it very easy and will not offer any training sessions on the first days. AMS symptoms usually disappear after 2 days of rest at the same altitude. A medication called acetazolamide (Diamox) can be taken to help someone adjust. This medication can prevent or lessen symptoms and you are encouraged to take it starting from two days before arrival in Cusco. Please see your physician about getting a prescription for Diamox. Once symptoms subside, someone with AMS should be able to ascend to higher altitudes. If symptoms don't go away, descending 300 metres (1,000 feet) usually helps - if it is the case that you will need to descend during our trek, a guide will be there to assist you but be aware that any additional costs incurred will be at your expense.

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