What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness is the body's natural reaction to travelling to a higher altitude. When we change our environment, we need time to adapt as the atmosphere's pressure decreases and our bodies have to deal with a lack of oxygen. Altitude sickness has nothing to do with age or physical condition. It can affect any rider, whether they are young or old, athletic or a Sunday jogger, a smoker or not, or a biking rookie or veteran. During our motorcycle raids in the heart of Ladakh, some people get used to the change in altitude better than others. Symptoms such as nausea, tiredness, headaches and even dizzy spells may appear at around 3,000 m altitude, or even 2,000 m for some bikers.
Preventing altitude sickness
Taglang La, Chang La, Khardung La… With peaks over 5,000 m altitude, it's very likely that you may face a bout of altitude sickness during your motorcycle tour in the Himalayas. All of our tours start with one or two gentler days to break riders in and make sure they get used to the surroundings. Plenty of rest and keeping hydrated will help get rid of any altitude sickness symptoms after a few days. But you can ride with peace of mind because our motorcycle tour leaders have plenty of experience in the mountains and are used to coping with altitude. Every day, we gradually take it up a notch so that you have time to get used to the road and this new environment. You can also ask your doctor for advice before setting off on your two-wheeled adventure to the top of the world. Depending on your needs, s/he may be able to homeopathic coca leaf capsules or Diamox, a medication used to treat altitude sickness.
Photo credits: Johann Rousselot / Myriam Lacour / Hichem Azzouz