When travelling, altitude can be both a treat and a struggle. Seeing spectacular backdrops and experiencing the culture of people who have used their versatility to live in these places is a great eye-opener. However, sickness is common and sometimes debilitating side affect of travelling at such heights, so it’s highly important to be vigilant against the possibility of having an accident. With this in mind, what can you enjoy in these bustling and sprawling peaks? We look at the top five:
1. Puno, Peru
This region of Peru is known for its wonderful landscapes and Lake Titicaca, which is both the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. It is the city of La Rinconada that is considered the highest city in the world by the National Geographic Magazine. The ancient ruins of Sillustani and Chucuito along with the various islands for tours makes it a worthwhile stop on your trip to Peru and South America.
2. La Paz, Bolivia
Lake Titicaca spans from Peru to Bolivia and the latter has some of the highest cities in the world. Potosi, for example, has been reported as the highest city by some outlets. But, it is the second largest city in the country La Paz that sits some 3,500 metres above sea level is the place to see. Boasting attractions like Tiwanaku, Valle de la Luna and the Witches Market, it’s a top tourist attraction.
3. Quito, Ecuador
The highest altitude capital city in the world is found in the Ecuadorian city of Quito. Sat just 22 kilometres from the equator, you can see the flanking Andes from most parts of the place. Cotopaxi, a snow-capped volcano, can be seen on clear days and there is also the TeleferiQo cable car, Basilica de Voto and El Panecillo to see with your time there.
Found in the Pyrenees, the tiny principality is less than 500 square kilometres in size but almost 3,000 metres above sea level. Wedged between Spain and France, this is one of the top ski resorts in Europe and is known for consumerism. With more than 2,000 shops to its name it has something for everything, and the hiking opportunities are delightful.
5. Assekrem, Algeria
A long, bumpy route to the top but the view is spectacular. Something straight from a Tolkein novel, it has dark and dry peaks. A desolate and dry part of the world, it houses one of the oldest trade routes in the Sahara desert. The Hermitage of Charles de Foucauld – a monk who moved their last century – is worth a visit and Tim Missaw tours can take you there from Tamanrasset for a day trip.
There are many places of high altitude worth visiting, and these five are some of the best. South America seems to be a spot teeming with high altitude hot spots and we’ve not even mentioned Machu Picchu. An honourable mention goes to Laya on the Tibetan border, some 12,630 feet above sea level but there’s not a lot to see.
Author: Rita Lurhman is a travel enthusiast who has been fortunate to visit every continent in the last 10 years. She is now a freelancer based in Peru who helps plan trips and advises tourists on to cope with altitude and provides assistance to those that may have suffered a holiday accident on their travels.
Image: Julia Rubinic