Subject: Peru Altitude Sickness
Rosemary, Sarah and I went to Peru a couple of years ago -- Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and the rainforest. We got altitude pills and took them when we got to Cusco. I think they helped. I don't remember the name, but I could check our records. They are the same pills mentioned in those Everest books.

Lima is no big deal (by the way, we didn't like anything about it, just another big city). Unfortunately, we had to fly into and out of Cusco. Try to get ther early in the morning, since the connections to Cusco end about noon (it either gets foggy or windy in the afternoon and is not as safe).

Cusco is high, so I recommend that you take it easy for a couple of days when you get there. Drink the mate de coca tea. It really helped. Don't walk too much the first couple of days. We found ourselves winded easily at first. There are many good places to stay in Cusco; we stayed at the Monasterio and loved everything about it.

If you take the train to Machu Picchu, you should find whatever degree of climbing you want. Many older people are there and they all seemed fine. When you get off the train, a bus takes you to the top of the mountain and from there MP can be relatively straightforward. We stayed at the hotel at the top, and this makes it easier. It also gives you an opportunity to be at MP when there aren't thousands of tourists there. The sunrise is particularly beautiful. You may not want to climb up Wayna Picchu (sp?), but you can see when you get there. We were there right after the fires and it was closed. We also hiked backward along the Inca Trail and it was nice. That way we could get as much or as little climbing as we wanted.

If you are going to MP along the Inca Trail, then we can't help you. We saw older people doing it and it isn't supposed to be particularly strenuous, but I think there are some sheer cliffs, so sensitivity to heights might be an issue.

You can also take a helpcopter to MP. They have a couple of old Russian Sikorskys. It would be spectacular flying in the ravines through the mountains. I worried about maintenance, but no one else seemed to. It is not cheap, but it is very convenient.

If your friends decide to explore the rainforest, let me know. We went somewhere great, with no one else but guides with us. I recommend this highly. We were lucky to find a woman who posts regularly on News about Peru. She is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I can try to help you find her. There is also someone from the Bay Area with a nickname something like Otter66 -- also very helpful. I have files and emails from places we stayed if that would be of help later in your planning.

Ed in San Miguel