Even though we’re experts at the airport, we know there’s more than one way to explore Peru. Travel by air is not the cheapest method by any means. As a result, many people turn to intercity buses to explore the country. But should you travel by bus in Peru?
Here are the 3 situations where you absolutely should, and 2 where you’re better off high in the sky.
1. When you’ve got plenty of time
If you’ve got weeks on end to travel, then the bus suddenly becomes far more attractive. Bus rides up and down the coast take between 8 and 16 hours, depending on how far you go from Lima. By leaving at night, you can get some good sleep and arrive the next day. But of course, this is much slower than flying.
The trips take even longer when you go to the mountains. Due to the twisty roads that weave around the hillsides, a bus ride to Cusco takes around 24 hours. Ouch!
2. When you’re travelling from city to city
One of the biggest problems with air travel in Peru is that there are very few flights between provincial cities. Say you wanted to travel from the north of the country to the south. You’ve decided you’ll visit Tumbes, Piura, and Trujillo.
You can fly to each of these destinations, but you have to go back to Lima each time. That extra time flying back and forth is time wasted. When you travel by bus, you can easily get tickets from one town to the next.
Bouncing around on buses is a great way to get to know smaller parts of the country as well, which brings us to point number 3.
3. When your destination doesn’t have any flight service
This might seem like a rather obvious reason, but it’s worth pointing out that in Peru there are still many cities without regular air service. For example, Huaraz is the capital of the Ancash region, but its airport is small, nestled in the mountains, and only serves charter flights to mining operations. And as we reported recently, there are still no plans for a commercial airport there.
Huaraz has beautiful scenery and incredible ruins to explore, but the only way you’re getting there is if you travel by bus. So buckle up.
The same holds true when you want to visit small towns between the big cities. Now let’s talk about when NOT to hop on 4 wheels and go.
1. Don’t travel by bus if you get motion sickness
As someone who has ridden a few provincial buses and watched passengers toss their cookies, heed my words. Know your body. Many buses have two floors, and naturally the second floor will sway more when you go around the tight bends of Peruvian roads.
Lower levels are definitely gentler, and rides along the coast aren’t as bad as mountainous terrain. But when you travel by bus in Peru, be sure you can handle the ride.
2. When time is paramount
This might be an obvious explanation, but sometimes you just need to get somewhere now. If this is your first time in Peru, you probably want to see as much as you possibly can. You may not get a second chance!
Flying allows you to go from the coast to the mountains to the jungle in a single day, realistically giving you a chance to see it all in less than a week.
So, for your next trip, get creative and explore your options. Sometimes, when you travel by bus in Peru, you find some of the country’s best hidden gems. But if it all seems too daunting, get to the airport.