What happens to people and things at high altitudes

Last week during our Salar de Uyuni tour we reached heights of up to 5,000 metres above sea level. At these heights, many things can happen so here are some recommendations:

  • Nails become very brittle so use nail strengthener if you don't want stumpy fingers (two of mine snapped off).

  • Your skin and lips will be ultra dry due to both the dry climate and the wind, so take a good quality lip balm and some moisturiser.

  • Take a few rolls of toilet paper with you.

  • The nights are very cold. Pack thermals, long socks and a wooly hat.

  • Everything in tubes squirts out all in one go (like my foundation), so open them every few hundred metres as you climb.

  • You may get a wild headache – I tried Ibuprofen and Aspirin but I believe this only fades with acclimatisation (apparently about 15 days).

  • Further to that, I've been told that garlic can help, so pack some garlic pills.

  • You feel more tired and it's harder to climb up hills, so avoid alcohol, sleep more and walk slowly.

  • Batteries wear out faster so take spare batteries and keep them warm (I slept with mine).

  • Finally….static electricity is created merely by getting in or out of your sleeping bag so don't be surprised if you see and hear sparks in the middle of the night!

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