Avoiding Altitude Sickness in the Sacred Valley with Muna Tea

Avoiding Altitude Sickness in the Sacred Valley with Muna Tea, Aracari Travel

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is undoubtedly one of Peru’s most breathtaking regions. Famed for its vast landscapes, rich culture, and ancient Inca relics – including the most famous of all, Machu Picchu – the Sacred Valley is an unmissable destination for those seeking cultural travel to Peru.

Indeed, it’s so popular that almost all of our luxury Peru itineraries include a stay in the Sacred Valley, whether it’s a vacation centered on wellness and natural healing, or one more dedicated to adventure and the wild outdoors. Yet for its wonder and beauty, the elevation of the Sacred Valley can cause sickness-inducing symptoms.


Explorer our Sacred Valley Itineraries 


At Aracari, we often get asked what the altitude of the Sacred Valley is by those set to travel there as part of a luxury Peru vacation. The Valley itself is measured at 2,800 meters above sea level, whilst the city of Cusco is found at over 3,000 meters. This dramatic elevation is significant and takes some adjusting to – especially if you want to enjoy our most recommended experiences in the region.

Thankfully, altitude sickness in the Sacred Valley is no new thing. Long before modern medicine Peruvian people have sought natural remedies for soothing its symptoms, harvesting the unique herbs that grow here.


Muna: Avoiding Altitude Sickness in the Sacred Valley with muna Tea

One of the most popular Peruvian herbs is muña, a mint-like Peruvian medicinal plant that makes for an excellent herbal tea to help relieve symptoms of altitude sickness in the Sacred Valley.

Also referred to as Andean mint, muña is a bright green plant that grows in the Andes highlands near cities like Cusco and Puno. This woody shrub is known for its ability to stay such a vibrant color even during the bitter cold months of the dry season, and for its lovely small white flowers.

During several of our luxury treks through the Andes, our expert guides will often stop to pick wild muña. The first thing you’ll notice is its minty scent, and once you’re able to recognize it amongst the scrubs of the Sacred Valley, you’ll often pause to inhale its fresh smell.

In fact, our expert guides regularly stop for a pop-up mountain tea break in the Sacred Valley, allowing our guests to see firsthand how to brew the herb into tea. Picking the muña straight from the ground, they’ll drop the shrub into boiling water for a fresh cup of tea, to be enjoyed against the sweeping valley views.

Interestingly, you can also find muña in many sauces, soups, and chupe stews – as shown in our Ultimate Guide to Foodie Peru. The herb is also a key component in traditional condiments used by shepherds in the Aymara community, as well as being enjoyed as candy and as a liqueur in other parts of the region.


Muna Tea: How does it soothie altitude sickness in the Sacred Valley?

For generations, local Andean communities have harvested muña to sell at local markets. They’ll often bunch muña with other Peruvian herbs like cilantro and black mint, which you can buy for a refreshing pick-me-up.

So how does Muña help soothe the symptoms of altitude sickness in the Sacred Valley? Muña is high in calcium, iron, and phosphorus, making it packed full of nutrients that contribute to a strong immune system. It is said to be good for digestion, so you’ll often encounter Peruvians sipping a cup of muña tea after a big dinner. The herb is also known to help ease altitude symptoms, especially if you experience stomach pain at high altitudes.



Our Five Most Recommended Experiences in The Sacred Valley

Equipped with the knowledge of the Sacred Valley altitude and our most recommended herbal antidotes, turn your focus on the kinds of experiences to enjoy whilst exploring the region as part of cultural travel to Peru.  Each of the following experiences is featured in our top 10 most unique experiences in Peru, and available exclusively as part of a luxury vacation to Peru with Aracari.


A longtime friend of Aracari, Adriana Peralta is a freelance photographer, with experience spanning prestigious publications such as NGO Guaman Poma de Ayala and La República newspaper. As well as heading up the photographic projects of the independent publishing house, Ceques Editores, which specializes in photojournalism and documentary work, Adriana also sells her photography privately too, some of which you can find showcased on Aracari Shop.

During one of the most unique experiences in Peru, available exclusively to our guests, you’ll learn how to capture the beauty of Cusco in a single image as Adriana leads you through the ancient, cobbled streets during an unforgettable afternoon.

Beginning in the Plaza de Armas, you’ll move through some of the city’s most marvelous landmarks. Adriana will help you to spot places that distill the essence of Cusco, reflecting its historical past and the unique identity of those who live here today.

As you move through the charming alleyways, Adriana will pause regularly to explain more about the principles that underpin great photography. Expanding on how the contrasting light – unique to this city – creates breathtaking photographs even on a smartphone, making for the perfect keepsake of your time in this special city.



The Ancascocha trek is found along the same mountainous route as the Inca Trail high in the Andes, yet very few venture along its path, preferring to take the well-trodden path instead.

Without doubt one of the most unique experiences in Peru, spend four days in the majestic Southern Andes hiking the challenging Ancascocha trail. Named in the Top 20 Hikes by National Geographic – this magnificent route passes through turquoise lagoons and snow-capped peaks, extraordinary wildlife, archaeological relics of the enigmatic Inca Empire, as well as indigenous Andean communities.

The start of this difficult yet magnificent trail is found in the community of Qamicancha, located on the picturesque shores of Silke River (a tributary of the Urubamba River), this is where you will be introduced to the local muleteers and their mules, responsible for the logistics whilst hiking the Southern Andes.

Over the next few days, you’ll reach a maximum altitude of 4650 mt / 15255 ft above sea level, walking up to 14 km / 8.7 miles per day. Testament to why Ancascocha is one of the best treks in South America, you will witness some of the continent’s most breathtaking scenery. The trail itself joins parts of the Inca Trail along the route, and you’ll cross paths with fascinating ruins, including the archaeological site of Paucarcancha – a small Inca citadel and administrative control center.

Trekking in the Andes with Aracrai is a unique experience, offering appropriate luxury in some of the continent’s most remote landscapes. Drawing on our decades of experience, we offer discerning travelers authentic treks away from the crowds, with top-notch equipment, first-class guiding, and uncompromised safety standards.



An unmissable foodie experience high in the Andes, spend a few hours in the company of a man putting Peruvian potatoes on the map. A man whose meticulous and inventive farming methods have produced over 380 varieties of native potatoes and put them on menus of Lima’s most renowned culinary institutions: Central and Maido.

A fourth-generation farmer, he improves each variety of potato by imitating bees with manual cross-pollination. During one of the most unique experiences in Peru, you’ll learn how this delicate process involves removing the pollen from one potato flower and sprinkling it onto a flower of another variety.

This inventiveness achieves tubers with bright, intensified colors such as blue, purple, and red while enhancing the nutritional properties, textures, and flavors too. Such agricultural prowess caught the eye of Virgilio Martinez, the renowned Peruvian chef of Central fame – who sought out this unrivaled knowledge of potatoes and tubers.

During one of the most unique foodie experiences in Peru, you’ll sample the different types of freshly harvested potatoes cooked in a ‘huatia’, which is a traditional way of cooking in the Andes using the heat of the earth in an underground oven. Before discovering (and sampling!) the latest invention: a wine made from the ocas and mashuas tubers: including red, white, and sparkling wine which are all sold in Lima’s award-winning restaurants.




Spend a morning or afternoon in the heart of Cusco, learning about Cusquenian art from a professional Peruvian artist belonging to the local art collective Totemiq – a group of artists inspired by Peruvian nature and cultural richness.

One of the most unique experiences in Peru, this artistic workshop is held at Florencia y Fortunata Café – a charming and welcoming space in Cusco that is also a cultural center focusing on women’s achievements since it is the birthplace and home of Cusco´s first female lawyer.

You’ll first hear the story of Cusquenian art and syncretism, as well as about Andean culture before your guide will present the history of the Torito de Pucará – or bull of Pucara – a characteristic ceramic piece of art from the Pucara district of Peru. Initially used in marking ceremonies and for the procreation of livestock, protection, happiness, and fertility in married life, this ceramic piece has become a symbol of the southern Peruvian Andean identity.

Receiving your very own Torito de Pucará and working materials inside a beautiful little box, you’ll begin using sheets of bronze, copper, and aluminum to decorate your own little bull using both traditional and contemporary techniques. Once finished, you will have created your very own Cusquenian art, which you can now carry with you as a guardian of the Peruvian Andes.



Explore the culture, art, and architecture of this historic city – peeking into some of the city’s intimate museums, convents, and archaeological sites tucked away from the crowds – accompanied by a specialist guide.

As in every city, there are famous sights and there are those hidden gems only known to connoisseurs or astute visitors who have more time and want to cover the less obvious. During one of the most unique experiences in Peru, you’ll visit exactly those kinds of sites – accompanied by one of Aracari’s subject Specialists. These people aren’t simply guides, but rather leading researchers and professors in their subject area.

Spanning from the Museo De Arte Precolombino (MAP) to the Museo De Arte Religioso (Religious Art Museum) to the Casa Concha (Machu Picchu Museum), to the Museo de Santa Catalina (Museum of Monastic Life), this experience includes the option to visit the interior of two of these intimate museums, or instead to stop by only the exterior of each – since all are housed in exquisite and significant buildings.

To us, what makes this specialist walking tour one of the most unique experiences in Peru is that it includes many buildings away from the tourist trail, now used for modern services, yet holding a fascinating past. For example, one of the best-preserved palaces in the entire city, which currently serves as a bank. Inside, there is a very small museum dedicated to the building’s origins, as well as a permanent exhibition of Martin Chambi photographs. As an Indigenous descendant, Chambi devoted his decades-long career to photographing the lives and surroundings of the Peruvian people of the Southern Andes during the early 20th century.


These experiences in the Sacred Valley are of course only the beginning. We hope that the scope and diversity showcased within it, along with our knowledge of the region and its altitude, highlight the unrivaled uniqueness of a luxury Peru tour handpicked and curated by Aracari. But as ever, we are led by you too.

Aracari’s dedicated Travel Designers are equipped with all the specialist knowledge and contacts to weave a bespoke itinerary, tailored completely to your taste. Whether you choose to visit Peru as a single-destination trip or build a tailormade vacation around multiple destinations – we’d be delighted to connect you to your own private South American voyage.




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