What altitude sickness feels like

Well friends. Today has not been the best. I promised myself when we started this trip that I wouldn’t just blog the highlights, that this would be a ‘warts and all’ account of our travels. But then nothing bad happened! Trust me, I’m not complaining in the slightest. But really, how lucky are we to have gone almost 5 months without a bad day? Because we drove everywhere there were no missed planes or trains, miraculously no flat tyres or break downs, no lost passports (touch wood!) or stolen phones, aside from the odd cold or hangover there has been no sickness or broken bones and we’ve had one tiny argument this entire time. Sure there have been average days, but I digress.

I think because I’m not one to get motion sickness or anything like that, I bizarrely thought altitude wouldn’t affect me. Also we were at 11,000ft in Rocky Mountain National Park (for an entire hour!) so I stupidly thought I was immune. Well.

My sweet oxygen can

We flew into Cusco from Lima on Monday morning. This all started yesterday with a headache and slight breathlessness that was fine. We walked around Cusco and I took heaps of photos on my phone which were uploaded to Instagram, perhaps with the tiniest hint of ‘we are having the best time’ smugness. Apologies. I drank some local coca tea which is meant to help with altitude. My headache got a bit worse and I went to bed pretty early seeing as we had been up at 4:45am to catch our flight.

I woke at 3am with my head pounding. It was worse when I woke again at 7am. I took painkillers that did nothing. Then I took an altitude sickness tablet (Diamox) but vomited it up almost straight away. So I lay in bed with an oddly puffy face, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and the worst headache of my life until I could take another Diamox and keep it down.

At 10am Andrew returned with a kind of hilarious can of oxygen and pills for the nausea and headache. I was sick again.

I slept for a bit and then requested some sweets (because they taste just as good going down as they do coming up, graphic!). Then I just spent the rest of the day in bed feeling yuck. Boring. We watched a movie, I fell asleep. I have no idea if the oxygen can worked or if it was just a placebo but it sure was fun to use.

So what does altitude sickness feel like?

Kind of like the worst, most unjust hangover ever. Paired with shortness of breath and unshakable lethargy. But don’t get me wrong, I know my version of it was tame compared to the poor people who faint and have to get emergency air lifted out.

I feel kind of bad for wasting an entire day in bed but what can you do? Now just to cap off my extremely dramatic account of mild altitude sickness here are some photos from around Cusco yesterday:


Flying over the incredible Andes on our flight from Lima to Cusco


The colourful Mercado San Pedro (San Pedro market)

We had a great lunch at the market, quinoa and potato soup to start and then lomo saltado (a stir fried beef dish with potato, rice and salad, of course we did not eat the salad) for about $2.50. Amazing.


One of the churches in the main square, Plaza De Armas


These brightly dressed ladies hold lambs and take photos with tourists for money. Kind of a tourist trap but they make me smile.


The Plaza De Armas again


Peruvian pooches

I’m already feeling much better than this morning, so hopefully I’ll be back to normal and sightseeing again tomorrow. Only two more days until we start our four day trek up to Machu Picchu. Freaking out a little!

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13 Responses to What altitude sickness feels like

  1. Jess Carey says:

    You know, I was feeling really sorry for you until I saw all those gorgeous photos 😉 but seriously, that sounds awful, I hope it’s not too horrible when the trek starts!! xo

    • Bec says:

      Hahaha! I know right?! I’m sure I’ll be fine when the trek starts, but then we gain more elevation… Ahhhh. I really don’t know how my post-trek blog post is going to be… Could be kind of bitter! Xx

  2. Good to hear you are better and enjoy Machu Picchu – such an accomplishment! xx

    • Bec says:

      Omg I just found out our hiking schedule and that it will be MINUS 10 overnight (we are camping). Oh god! But you’re right, it will be an accomplishment if I make it!! Xx

  3. Wow! Maybe we need to rethink the schedule for our trip to South America in 2016 to make sure we S-L-O-W-L-Y move up in altitude. If we can avoid altitude sickness it would definitely be worth it!

    • Bec says:

      I think if you can afford the time and don’t mind long bus trips, ascending slowly is definitely a good idea. Apparently the trick is to go to a certain height during the day and then sleep lower than that altitude that night. But altitude sickness is not determined by age, fitness or gender so you could be completely fine! My boyfriend has been fine.

  4. Bec J. H. says:

    Thanks for sharing the bad along with the good. I appreciate honesty in blogging and it’s really helpful for me when thinking about what places I might want to visit to know what some of the downsides might be so I can be prepared!

    • Bec says:

      No worries! I absolutely agree. No point posting postcard worthy photos and not explaining the experience behind them! The annoying thing is that altitude affects everyone differently, so you really don’t know until you get here.

  5. Kriddy Girl says:

    I hope your feeling better lovely 💕

    • Bec says:

      Thank you ❤ I do feel better today but I still feel… Weird? Not sure how to explain it! I'm sure I'll be 100 per cent by tomorrow.

  6. Pingback: Exploring the San Pedro Market in Cusco | My Bloggable Day

  7. Pingback: Colourful Cusco & the Sacred Valley | My Bloggable Day

  8. Pingback: How to travel with your significant other without killing them | My Bloggable Day

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