Because Peru is so vast and full of diverse landscapes: mountain terrain, long stretches of desert coast, and extensive rainforest, it is complicated to navigate. Many travellers, especially those with limited time choose to fly between destinations. Another popular way to get around Peru is by bus. Bus travel is the cheapest option and routes cover most destinations in Peru. Train travel is also possible, but only in between limited destinations. Bus and train travel can take a long time to get from A to B.
When I travelled to Peru, I chose to travel by bus as I had time to spare and was travelling on a budget. I travelled from Cusco to Puno to Arequipa to Nasca to Huacachina and finally to Lima.
As a solo traveller, I was concerned about my safety getting around Peru and was unsure of what bus services were safe/unsafe. After some research and first-hand experience, I came across Cruz Del Sur.
Getting around Peru with Cruz Del Sur
Cruz Del Sur is an extremely safe and comfortable bus service connecting Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. Cruz Del Sur checks all passengers’ passports upon boarding, and photographs all people using the bus service. They claim to have 24-hour surveillance and a GPS tracking system that monitors the speed of the bus, and unscheduled stops, ensuring passengers safety. Cruz Del Sur offers Regular and VIP seating. VIP seating provides you with a sofa seat that reclines 160 degrees, tea and coffee and a meal. Regular seating still includes a meal, the seats are just less comfortable. I would choose VIP for bus rides longer than 10 hours.
Catching overnight buses was concerning to me at first, however, after doing many overnight bus rides in Peru, I found them to be safe, comfortable and convenient as it saves you 1 day on the road (and money for 1 nights accommodation).
There are many other bus services in Peru but Cruz Del Sur is the safest. While it is the safest, it is also the most expensive.
Another popular way to get around Peru is Peru Hop.
Getting around Peru with Preu Hop
Peru Hop offers a flexible service allowing you to hop on and hop off at selected locations around Peru. This is another safe, comfortable and affordable way to get around Peru
Peru Hop offers hostel pick up and drop off, saving you the hassle of getting to the local bus depot.
Tips for getting around Peru by bus
- For a comfortable ride, book with Cruz Del Sur.
- Pre-purchase tickets so you don’t miss a seat.
- Double check the location of the bus stop. Cities in Peru don’t have consolidated bus terminals, so ensure you have the right address and be aware that it might be different from the bus company’s office.
- Expect long bus rides and slow driving – especially through the mountains.
- Theft on bus rides in Peru does occur, so keep your valuable possessions with you at all times. On overnight bus rides, I wear a money belt with my credit cards, passport and cash inside. This is a great way to keep your most important items secure.
Getting around Peru by plane
Travelling across Peru by plane is another safe way to get around. It is also the best way to get around Peru if you plan to see multiple destinations within a short time frame. Most major Peruvian cities can be reached by air, although not always directly.
Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport is Peru’s major airport, and where most travellers will land or transit through on arrival to Peru. The airport is crowded so allow plenty of time for connections. I have missed a connecting flight at Lima Airport before. Peru has four other international airports (in Arequipa, Cuzco, Iquitos and Piura), with flights arriving from other South American countries. There are 18 additional airports with regularly scheduled flights.
Some local airlines include LATAM, Avianca, Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines and LC Peru.
Flying between destinations in Peru isn’t the cheapest transportation option — buses are — but aeroplane travel certainly will save you heaps of time. The flight from Lima to Cuzco, for instance, takes a little over an hour, whereas a bus will take more than 20 hours. All of Peru’s major cities are within a two-hour flight of Lima.
Tips for getting around Peru by plane
- Book flight well in advance to get the cheapest price.
- Be sure to compare ticket prices from major airlines.
- Some airlines offer discounted tickets to Peruvian nationals and upcharge non-residents – great news for the locals!
- Arrive at the airport with plenty of time as check-in and security can be very slow. You don’t want to risk it in Peru.
Getting around Peru by Taxi
Once you reach a destination within Peru, you may be wondering how to get around? As a solo traveller, I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car in Peru. This is because car hire in Peru isn’t exactly cheap, and the roads can be difficult to navigate.
Instead, I would recommend a combination of walking, taxis and guided tours.
There are plenty of taxis in Peru. You can usually find a taxi on the street. I found it crucial to agree on a price for the taxi ride before getting in. For short rides, you can expect to pay around $5 – $10.
If you plan to visit a lot of places in one day, particularly tourist attractions, the cheapest and safest option may be to arrange a guided tour. You can ask your hotel or hostel for advice on booking a tour. Tours are cheaper if you book them when you are there, as opposed to online.
I hope this helps you find your way across Peru and South America safely.