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Peru health information - Prepare for your trip!

Peru Health Information

Once you have built your own Peru holiday using our bite-sized Peru tours or chosen from our suggested Peru holidays, it's important to get clued up on the essential information regarding health in Peru before you go.

Our travel specialists at Peru Travel Plan have taken the greatest care to ensure that the content of these pages are accurate. However, we advise our customers to seek contact with their local GP for the latest information about Peru travel health at least 6 weeks prior to departure.

Peru Travel Plan has taken the greatest care to ensure that the contents of these pages are accurate. However, we do advise our customers to seek contact with their local GP regarding their health in Peru and Bolivia for the latest information at least 6 weeks prior to departure.

Take a look below at some of our tips and Peru health information;

Peru health information: Before you depart

If you are currently taking prescription medicines, be sure to pack the instruction leaflet with you, as this will make life easier if you happen to lose the medicine, especially when trying to explain the medication to a Peruvian pharmacist! Contact your local GP or tropical medical centre before you leave. Last minute tours to Peru shouldn't be a problem for a healthy person, but double check with your GP for up-to-date advice. Always carry your vaccinations booklet with you. Here are a couple of websites providing excellent information about travel health:

World Health Organisation:

Fit for Travel:
Peru health information - Staying healthy in Peru
Peru health information - Malaria

Peru health information: Malaria

Malaria does exist in Peru and Bolivia, and although it is not a major problem it is extremely important you seek up-to-date advice from your GP before you travel. There is virtually no risk of malaria in the larger cities or above 2000m altitude. The best bet is to try and reduce the risk of catching malaria by preventative health measures. Keeping your arms, legs and feet covered in the evenings, using anti-mosquito spray/cream on exposed areas of skin (the best ones contain DEET), and sleeping under a mosquito net where possible. If during or after your trip you find yourself with flu-like symptoms lasting longer than two days (even up to 2 months after your return to the UK), seek the advice of a doctor or health professional immediately, and advise them that you have been to Peru or Bolivia.

Peru health information: On location

Jet lag: Your body has to adjust to the new biorhythm for the first few days after your flight, during which time you can feel tired in the day and awake at night. It's generally recommended that you drink limited amounts of coffee or alcohol during the flight, and upon arrival don't demand too much of your body for the first couple of days. It's also handy to get into the new sleeping pattern as quickly as possible.

Diarrhoea: A change of routine, climate and food (especially spicy) during your Peru travels can throw your stomach out of sorts. Only consume water, and soft drinks from properly closed and sealed bottles or cans. Drinks made with boiled bottled water, such as tea or coffee are also fine. Ice is only trustworthy in the form of manufactured bagged ice, but this is widely available. Fruit juice is safe, but only if no water has been added. Food, especially meat and fish must be cooked properly, so that it is well cooked all the way through.

Peru health information - On location
Peru health information - Additional tips

Peru health information: Additional tips

Whichever of our tours to Peru you choose, it's important to always use a high factor sun tan lotion on exposed skin, even during the rainy season. If you cut or scratch yourself whilst in Peru, clean them with disinfectant and keep them covered with a plaster during the day. The sun is very strong around the equator and high in the mountains, even if its cloudy. Sunstroke can be prevented by wearing a hat and sunglasses. Always try and keep a bottle of water with you, especially if you're out in the wilderness and unlikely to come across drinking water. If you suspect sunstroke (feeling light-headed, headaches), drink water and find somewhere in the shade to rest.

Peru health information: Altitude sickness

Flying from the UK directly into a city at high altitude like Cuzco or La Paz, your body won’t have had time to adjust to the thin air. The only thing you’ll notice at first is a slight shortness of breath and increased heart rate, but chances are the following morning you’ll wake up with a splitting headache and a feeling of nausea. Altitude sickness, or ‘soroche’ is no fun way to start your holiday but it’s a force to be reckoned with when you’re travelling to Peru and Bolivia. To avoid feeling ill for the first few days of your trip we recommend flying to one of the lower-lying areas like Lima or Santa Cruz.

Most of our Peru holidays and tours to Peru begin in Lima and Arequipa at 2300m, or Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Samaipata at 1750m. That way you can slowly adjust to the altitude before travelling on to the higher regions. In our module and itinerary routes we’ve kept the altitude in mind.
Peru health information - Altitude sickness
Peru health information - High altitude

Peru health information: What is altitude sickness (soroche)?

Symptoms usually occur within the first 24 hours at altitude and can include shortness of breath, headache, nausea, lethargy and loss of appetite. The best way to deal with altitude sickness is to stay at the same altitude or even descend if the symptoms don't improve within a couple of days. Paracetamol can help for headaches and if necessary additional medication or oxygen can be given. You can help avoid altitude sickness by giving your body plenty of time to acclimatise and drinking plenty of fluids. Whether you are likely to get altitude sickness varies per person. Some suffer from symptoms while others have no problems at all. You could be feeling fine on one day but suffer from headache and nausea (typical symptoms of altitude sickness) the next.

Peru health information: Children and altitude

Because young children aren’t yet capable of determining or expressing their symptoms properly, it’s advisable not to take them to altitudes above 2500m. That includes babies in carriers! Children are not at a higher risk of getting altitude sickness but they are less capable of expressing their symptoms. If you’re pregnant and healthy it should be fine to stay at a high(er) altitude without any strenuous activity, especially if it’s not for a prolonged period.
The older you get, doesn’t mean you have an increased risk of getting altitude sickness. Though general health risks do increase with age which is why it’s advisable to seek medical advice prior to travelling if you’re over 60.
Peru health information - Children in high altitudes
Peru health information - Treating altitude sickness

Peru health information: Treating altitude sickness

If you're suffering from mild symptoms (e.g. headache that can be treated with painkillers) you should be fine with a day of rest and not travelling to a higher altitude. In Peru and Bolivia the leaves of the coca plant are used to make tea. The tea, which is available everywhere, is a popular remedy for headache and is widely used in traditional medicine so don't worry about 'taking illegal drugs' or 'getting addicted'. If you feel ill, then assume it's altitude sickness (even if you're not sure). Descend to a lower altitude and get plenty of rest. If you feel seriously ill, seek medical help immediately as severe altitude sickness can be life-threatening.

Peru health information: Preventing altitude sickness

Though the risk of getting altitude sickness varies per person, there are several general precautions you can take to avoid it during your Peru travel experience:

Good health is no prevention against altitude sickness. In fact, fitter people will tend to ascend faster, which is why they run a higher risk of getting ill. Strenuous exercise can even increase the risk of altitude sickness which is why it’s always better to take some rest after a long climb.

Higher altitude often causes a loss of appetite. Even if you’re not feeling hungry it’s important to eat well to keep your strength up. A high-carb diet (bread, pasta, rice etc) is better than a protein-rich or fatty diet, although the latter contains more calories. Fat is more difficult to digest which can lead to nausea when you’re climbing. Try to avoid eating solid foods a couple of hours before so your body can focus on getting the blood-flow to the muscles rather than using the energy on digesting your big meal. Fibre-rich food is heavy on the stomach as well, which can lead to nausea during strenuous activity.

Make sure you drink plenty of water as you lose more fluids at higher altitude. Dehydration can lead to other complications when you're climbing.
Peru health information - Preventing altitude sickness

Peru health information: When you are home

After your tour to Peru (and this can be months later), pay close attention to your health for a little while. If you contract flu like symptoms, have stomach problems, or experience something unusual symptoms, contact your GP and let them know that you've been to Peru.

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