Altitude Sickness

Volunteer Ecuador Otavalo Market

Altitude sickness can become a problem for travelers around the world.

Travelers joining our volunteer programs in the South American cities of Quito in Ecuador and Cusco in Peru occasionally experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness upon arrival.

Quito’s elevation is 9,300 ft (2,850 m) above sea level, making it the second highest capital city in the world.

Cusco sits at 10,800 ft (3,300 m) above sea level.

Adjust to the high altitude when volunteering abroad:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat light, carb-based meals

I’ve flown into Quito several times — the first in 2003 — and been affected each time by the altitude. Especially the first time, I felt very dizzy while walking from the plane to the immigration counter. After a couple days of headaches and mild nausea, I adjusted OK to the altitude each time.