Taking that first night bus (or any long distance bus trip in general) in a new country can always be a bit of a gamble. Will it arrive on time, will it be over-crowded, will I sleep at all? Is it better to spend more money on the more well known companies? Or can you get by with the cheaper options? As budget travellers and honest bloggers, we’re here to answer these questions and more!
There are dozens of bus companies in Peru offering trips all over the country. You’ll see (and hear) this first hand in any terminal terrestre (bus station). Throughout our time in Peru we travelled with six different companies and took a total of four night buses and four day buses from city to city and across the Peru- Ecuador boarder. We’ve done the investigating for you and can help you take the guess work out of travelling Peru by bus!
First of all, if you have ever braved the night buses of South East Asia, or buses from other South American countries, you are definitely in for a treat on Peruvian buses. An attendant that serves you a snack or meal, a movie (usually with English subtitles), reclinable chairs with foot rests and usually a blanket for longer night buses are all included on all the buses we took! Almost all of them were on time as well. We were pleasantly surprised! These buses are honestly airplanes on wheels, they’re better than anything we’ve travelled on in Australia or Canada. Even when taking mid range options, you’re still travelling in comfort.
Here are our reviews and recommendations:
Cruz Del Sur
Trips: Mancora, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador – 134 soles
If you are googling Peru bus companies online, you’ll quickly find that Cruz Del Sur is literally worshipped by tourists. It’s the only bus you should ever take EVER! Spoiler alert: we took other buses and survived, we were even comfortable! (Crazy). Due to its spotless reputation they also charge significantly more than most other companies (usually in the range of $12-$40 more).
And here is the honest truth: We didn’t find it to be that much more comfortable than the other buses we took. Actually Cruz Del Sur was the only bus that broke down on us, causing our pickup time to be delayed by 2.5 hours.
On Time: No…2.5 hours late on arrival
Meals/Snacks: You get to choose between chicken, beef or fish. We had the chicken and it came with rice and potatos. It was a little underwhelming, especially considering the price difference.
Extras: Some perks that Cruz Del Sur had that others did not were blankets and a pillow with your seat, a personal interactive tv display that played movies with English subtitles, and USB outlets. The amount of leg room was average, and so was the lunch provided. The wifi provided did not work at all. It was nice to have our own personal display for the long day trip across the border, but we don’t think spending more for Cruz Del Sur was worth it, especially if you’re busing overnight and sleeping most of the time.
- Cusco to Arequipa – 72 soles (plus 1.40 soles tax)
- Arequipa to Ica (Huacachina) – 90 soles (plus 3 soles tax)
- Trujillo to Mancora – 70 soles
This one was our first night bus and while it wasn’t “recommended” in Lonely Planet, it was a mid-range price and cheaper than Cruz Del Sur so we decided to go for it. We were really happy with the bus and ended up booking with Oltursa on multiple trips.
On time: Yes
Meals/Snacks: The longer rides (Cusco to Arequipa and Arequipa to Ica) provided a hot meal (rice or noodles with chicken) on the bus and a coffee, tea or soda. The shorter ride, Trujillo to Mancora provided us with two small pastries and a drink as well.
Extras: Blankets were provided on the first two trips, and not our third trip. The chairs reclined to 140 degrees and had fold out foot/leg rests. One movie with English subtitles was played on overhead tvs (there were no seat back tvs) at the start of the trip before everyone went to sleep (these included Adam Sandler’s “Blended”, A Dog’s Purpose, and the brilliant Ice Cube and Kevin Hart collaboration “Ride Along”). The first bus had wifi that worked well, the others were hit and miss.
Trips: Lima to Trujillo – 60 soles
Movil Bus was a comfy ride, but lacked a lot of the regular perks. The movie was in Spanish without English subtitles, there was no blanket, and no wifi. It did however have USB chargers which was nice. The amount of legroom was normal. We were completely happy with it even without the perks, it was comfy and allowed for a decent sleep.
On time: Left a little late, and arrived at 8 am when we were told 6 am, but this wasn’t an issue.
Meals/Snacks: Some pastries for a small dinner.
Extras: USB chargers, that’s pretty much it.
This was a short trip so we decided to try to find the cheapest option that wasn’t a local bus. We were told that all seats would be 25 soles if we booked in person at the bus station the day of, but that didn’t end up being the case. Only the back seats (near the bathrooms) were 25 soles, and by the time we booked they were full, so we ended up in the 40 soles seats.
The bus had personal interactive tvs on the back of the seat in front of you, but the movies were in Spanish and didn’t have English subtitles. However, there were games you could play, and they provided headphones to borrow for the ride. The seats were comfy with a little less legroom than usual, but we were still happy with it.
On time: Left a little late but we arrived on time.
Meals/Snacks: Free drinks and snack pack (pretzels, cookies, pastries). You could buy sandwiches if you wanted.
Extras: Personal tvs and headphones provided. No English subtitles on the movies, but you could play games.
Trips: Arequipa to Cabanaconde (and back) – 17 soles one way (plus 1.5 soles tax).
These were the two main local buses that travelled from Arequipa to Cabanaconde, the starting point of the Colca Canyon trek. Both were very similar, so choose whatever one’s schedule works best for you. The only way to confidently check the schedule is in the actual bus station as it changes frequently. More info about getting to Colca Canyon and back, and doing the trek is provided in our “blog” section!
Both buses were very basic and a little on the dirtier side, but they were pretty cheap. They play Spanish movies and music videos during day trips, but that’s the extent of your perks.
On time: Yes
Extras: This is bare bones local bus travel.
Every city we visited had a slightly different bus system. We’ve outlined how each one works below.
Cusco has a Terminal Terrestre where most buses leave from. You’ll walk in and be amazed by how many different companies line the outside. You’ll need to pay the tax booth to receive a receipt that you need to present to enter the bus boarding zone (Cusco to Arequipa was 1.40 soles). The tax booth is a wooden booth found in the middle of the bus station.
Arequipa also has a Terminal Terrestre where most buses leave from. If you’re going somewhere close (eg. Cabanaconde for Colca Canyon) you’ll need to go to the National bus station. Anything far goes to the International bus station. They are short two minute walk apart so if you end up at the wrong one it’s not a huge deal. Both have tax booths in the middle, we paid 1.50 soles at the national terminal to get to Cabanaconde, and 3 soles at the international terminal to get to Ica.
Each company has their own little terminal in Ica, and although they’re in the same area they’re relatively far apart if you’re walking. Make sure to let your taxi driver know what company your bus is when you’re getting a ride to your departing bus. Most people go to Huacachina after arriving in Ica, so you can easily find a taxi for 8-10 soles.
Each company has their own bus terminal in Lima. It’s also a big city, so make sure to ask how far away your terminal is from your hostel when deciding on a bus, as the taxi prices can vary from 15-40 soles depending on distance.
We arrived at a bus station in the southeast part of town, which had a bunch of bus company counters. However when we departed, our bus left from its own terminal closer to the middle of town. All of the bus companies left from Avenida Del Ejercito just north of Avenida Espanola, all the terminals were very close together. Most travellers stay in Huanchaco, the beach town a short twenty minute drive away. Our taxi into Huanchaco when we arrived was 20 soles, we took the local Huanchaco bus to the departure bus terminal area for 1.50 soles each. This local bus can be caught near the main pier in Huanchaco. It is red and yellow and they will usually honk at you to try to get your business. Make sure you take Bus B!
Bus companies all have individual terminals that line the main drag (which is an easy kilometer walk from the main beach hub). No need for a taxi here. The buses arrive and depart from the same terminals.