How to prepare for a high-altitude trek

Trekking in the Himalayas or the Andes is on many travelers’ adventure lists. A high-altitude trek is a fantastic experience — and, for many of us, the chance of a lifetime to see some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks. From a hike in Patagonia to a long-distance trek in the Dolomites, preparation for the high altitude is vital.

Altitude sickness, caused by the lack of adequate oxygen at higher elevations, can ruin your experience and dash dreams of reaching your goal. That said, your body can react to lower oxygen levels and adapt through acclimatization — but it’s vital to be as prepared as possible before you go. Here are a few steps you can take in preparation to help lower your chances of feeling the full effects of this health condition.

When people think about altitude, the usual places that spring to mind are the Nepalese trekking routes and Kilimanjaro. These are epic treks, but altitude impacts hiking at lower altitudes, too. In fact, you just need to top 5,000 feet to be in the high-altitude zone. One of the first things to do is check the altitude of the area you are trekking through, so you are aware of the terrain and the challenges of hiking there.

A high altitude trek is not a method of losing weight or getting fit. You need to be as fit as possible before you go. If you are not a regular at the gym, this needs to start at least two months ahead of your journey. If you aren’t used to regular exercise and head out to the high-altitude trekking routes, you can easily put your life in danger, as well as those of other people.

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