Best Peru & Bolivia bus companies: recommendations, which to choose, where to look, tips and more.
I just returned from Peru and Bolivia, I was traveling for 15 days for these beautiful countries that actually have too much to offer, both countries are huge and very cheap, but traveling by plane is almost impossible because it is ridiculously expensive, so the only thing possible is travel by bus, is and you have to choose the best bus to travel within these countries, because belive me you are going to spend a lot of hour in a bus.
Although the options of companies are many not all offer the same at the same price, since there is no price regulation, so choosing a good bus company can be a nightmare, especially because few of them offer online information and if you don’t speak spanish this could be harder, so here is a guide of some peru and bolivia bus companies and the one I travel with.
This is a guide include following recommendations and bus companies, depending on your destination you can choose between:
- Bus from Lima to Ica
- Bus from Ica to Cusco
- Bus from Cusco to La Paz
- Bus from La Paz to Uyuni
- Bus from Uyuni to Copacabana
- Bus from Copacabana to Puno
- Bus from Puno to Lima
Bus companies from Lima to Ica
We arrive to Lima at 1am, very late (or early) in the morning, so our options couldn’t be many. There we knew that there is not 1 bus station in Lima, there are many! Every company have their own bus station, but most of them are in the same area of La Victoria, this are the main streets:
- Av. 28 de julio
- Av. México
- Av. Javier del Prado este
So as reference this area is near from the national futbol stadium of Peru, you can walk between all this stations since they are near between others but I don’t recommend it if you are doing it late at night. Not all bus companies have the same routes, so your choice would depend on where are you going to.
If you come from the airport, a taxi at night would charge you like $15 or $20 soles, that would be like $6 USD. (some would say 30 soles but that is too much, you can always negotiate it) the distance from airport to La victoria neighbourhood is about 13 and 17 km, like 30 minutes.
Our next destination after Lima was Ica, we were going to Huacachina. So if you go from Lima to Ica (that is near from Huacachina, Paracas, Salinas de Otuna, etc). your best bus options to get there are:
These companies offer bed-seats, seats that recline up to 180º degrees that become almost beds, are very comfortable and they offer a simple snack or meal (dinner or breakfast) if the journey is long. They say that offer wifi but that is not true, most of them don’t work, but these companies are the best bus companies to travel Peru.
I recommend to buy it with anticipations (online), since the only way to travel cheap inside Peru is by bus, the best option are always full if you want to buy on the same day, that happened to us, when we went to Cruz del Sur to buy our tickets to Ica, the bus was sold out.
We had to pay another taxi (remember it was 2 am) and go to Av Mexico to buy our tickets with the only bus company that was going to Ica at 3am and still have seats left, I don’t really recommend them but they were our only option, our seats were uncomfortable, they say the journey would take 4 hours and it takes 6! Since it was stopping in every town, the noise that bus was doing made almost impossible to sleep.
This kind of buses don’t really have a name, they are like particular buses with independent operators, cheaper than the rest, but good for locals that want to go to small towns that big companies don’t go.
This are another options if your budget is limited, they are cheapest but don’t offer bed-seats, good for short distances:
Bus from Ica to Cusco
When we went to Ica, we took 1 day to explore Huacachina, but before going there (Huacachina is about 15 min away from Ica), we went to the Cruz del Sur bus station to buy our ticket to Cusco, this time we want to make sure to buy bed-seats since the distance from Ica to Cusco is about 15 hours.
There we realize it was very expensive, and the most popular option so it was almost full, but a local friend told us to go to Palomino Station, this was cheaper and also good option to go to Cusco, so we choose them, normally price if you go with Cruz del Sur to Cusco, would cost you about $180 soles, which is about 55 USD, but with Palomino it was $140 soles that are 43 USD, with bead-seats and meal included.
You can buy online but is better if you buy there, since you can always ask for a discount and also pay with credit card:
When we get to Cusco, we spent some days there before going to Machi Picchu, Cusco is beautiful, and have too much to offer, but is not cheap, food and specially beer is expensive, but you can always ask for a discount in accommodation and stay in a centric hotel, near from de main square (Plaza de Armas), we pay $40 soles (12 usd) for the a doble room with private bathroom and american breakfast near from the main square, not bad.
Bus from Cusco to La Paz, Bolivia.
When we get back from Machu Picchu, we wanted to go to La Paz to visit Salar de Uyuni, so before going to Machu Picchu we bought our tickets to La Paz with a company called Trans Salvador, a small company, services was good but nothing special, bathroom does work only if you want to pee, almost at the end of the trip it was so hot, the driver decided not to turn on the air conditioner, perhaps for save gas. So besides this details, the service was enough good for an 11 hours journey.
There are several buses going to La Paz, all of them go out at 9 or 10 pm, since they have to cross the Bolivian border at 7am when the migration office is open, the prices are between $75 and $90 soles ($23- $27 USD), but they offer almost the same. We pay $72 usd for each ticket with credit card, it was a good deal.
If you are going to Bolivia don’t worry about when or where buy this tickets in advance, in Cusco there is only 1 bus station (thanks God!) so you will find all options in the same place, you can check prices, departure and arriving time, pay in cash or TDC, so I recommend to do it when you are there.
This are some companies that go to La Paz from Cusco:
From Cusco you can also go to Puno or Copacabana, actually most of the the buses that go to La Paz, do an stop in Puno or Copacabana, so make sure they go straight to La Paz from “desaguadero” track.
Bus to Uyuni from La Paz Bolivia.
When we get to La Paz, we found out that almost no one is accepting credit card, so I had to find an ATMs (there is a lot in La Paz bus station), and then look for the best price to go to Uyuni, there are more than 5 companies going to Uyuni and they all offer almost same price and characteristic. We pay $90 Bob each ($12 USD) for our bus from La Paz to Uyuni, very cheap (considering that distance is the same from Cusco to La Paz and we pay almost half) and we did an 11 hours trip, we leaved at 7pm and arrived to Uyuni at 6am.
La Paz is a big city but in development, is not easy to find a restaurant or any company that accept credit card, so make sure you can change dollars or take out cash from a ATM.
When we got to Uyuni, we decided to do the 6 hours tour to the Salar, without staying that night there (besides the salar there is not much to do there), since Uyuni is a very small and cold town, and not so cheap (food is more expensive than in La Paz).
Bus from Uyuni to La Paz
So before taking the tour, we decided to look for our bus (remember always to buy in advance), and we found out there is not too much options, so we choose the same company we use when we were coming from La Paz, this time we pay less, so remember not to buy double trip from La Paz, since you can find the return cheaper in Uyuni.
In this route don’t worry too much about the brand or name’s company, always look to pay the same price or less for the same characteristics (bed-seats, blankets and bathroom, this route don’t offer meal or snacks).
Bus from La Paz to Copacabana
When we got back to La Paz at 6am and we wanted to go straight to Cusco and spend some days there before going back to Colombia, but we realized that almost every company stops in Copacabana or Puno, before going to Cusco. So we decided to go to Copacabana and see why everyone was going there.
We took the worst option we can take, I choose a Manco Kapac Company, that supposedly was leaving at 7am, but they didn’t told us that they were going to another bus station (La Paz have 2 bus stations), so we were put in a taxi and taken to the point where the bus have their office, we wait there for 3o minutes, then we went to the other station and we wait another 20 minutes.
So actually we were on our way 1 and half hour later, at 8:30am, and arrived to Copacabana 11:30. To avoid this always ask if the bus goes straight or if is going to do some stops, also ask if the leave from this bus station or the other one and please DO NOT TAKE the company “MANCO KAPAC“, you can find bad references in Tripadvisor about them, so please do no go with them!
Before arriving to Copacabana, we need to get off of the bus since we need to cross the Titicaca river, the bus go in a special ship for transportation and you will go in another and pay $1 USD for crossing. Once the bus in the other side the driver won’t wait to much for you so hurry up, people get stress if they have to wait for you (even that we have to wait 1 hour for the driver fill the bus!) that makes me angry.
Bus from Copacabana to Puno.
When we arrive to Copacabana, we found a cold little town with river, we took a boat to Isla del Sol and explore some hours there, we were tired (after climbing Machi Picchu, Salar de Uyuni and the height) so we decided to go back and take a beer in Copacabana.
We were looking the best option to get back to Cusco, and we found that the best option was to get to Puno and then from there go to Cusco, the trip from Copacabana was so expensive and with many stops. A bus from Copacabana to Cusco cost around $250 BOB ($36 USD), and from Cusco to Lima is about $140 SOL ($55 USD) so if you add it all together is not a good deal.
In Copacabana no one will accept credit or debit card, you have to pay everything in cash.In Copacabana there is no bus stations, there are a lot of agencies that are in charge of selling, but if you negotiate you can always get a better price.
Instead of the bus station there are thousands of agencies that you can go crazy, they double the prices, so better to take the shortest way to get back to Peru. Don’t waste your time trying to get tu Cusco or Lima (like us), better to get to Puno, that is the cheapest way to cross Peru border and not pay more.
We pay $20 BOB ($2.8 USD) from Copacaban to Puno, normally you can find it up to $5 USD but we negotiate it with the guy that is selling the tickets and is trying to fill the bus just before leaving, they can always offer a discount since the bus is almost going. The journey is really easy, less than 3 hours and not ship this time.
Bus from Puno to Lima
Once in Puno, we found out that our options were much more and cheaper, in Puno bus station almost every company accept card payment and not just cash, that was very good since we was almost finishing our trip and I didn’t want to take more cash out from the ATM.
A good new also, was that you can but directly to the operator and not to re sellers or agencies, so the price was much more cheaper.
We were planning to stay 1 day in Puno (to visit Uros Islands) and explore the city, so we decided to buy ticket straight to Lima for next day with Superciva Tours, so far this was the best company we travel with, they offered us 2 complete meals (dinner and breakfast), 1 snack, we have 2 bathrooms, blankets, T.V and very comfortable bed-seats (since our trip was of 24 hours with 1 stop).
We pay $12o soles each ($37 USD) for the whole trip, not bad if it had included meals and a very comfortable bed with blanked, better than a hostel!
We leave at 2pm from Puno and we arrived at 1 pm of the next day to Lima, the trip was interesting at the beginning, we could see through the window the small towns through which we passed, some of them were very poor.
There was a part of the road that was full of snow and fog, just when it started to get dark and I fell asleep. Luckily I was always able to sleep on the bus, which terrible nightmare would be to travel so many hours without being able to sleep.
Finally we got to Lima happy to have arrived earlier than expected, ready to explore Lima, a big city that offers a lot for tourists, I even thought that this was another Peru, very different from Cusco or Puno and everything that we have seen so far, it seems that Lima is another modernity country.
At the end we did more than 100 hours in bus, traveling all over Peru and Bolivia and to cross these two countries, so I recommend you always take a bus that offer bed-seat option, have bathroom and take a direct route without stops or as few as possible, if so believe me you will have a very comfortable trip and you will not feel these all this hours in a bus, would be like an hotel.
- Buy in advance if you arrive late at night, you wont find available ticket for the next hours.
- Always negotiate the price, you can get a better one if you learn how to do it 🙂
- If you see a ATM take money out, specially if you are in Bolivia.
- Try to buy short distances, is always cheaper than long ones even if you buy separately you will save more.
- Bring with you your own toilet paper (few buses offer it).
- Bring a book for those long journeys buses.
- If you are vegetarian bring your own food, since none of this companies offer veggie options meals.
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