Getting there & away
Although night buses to destinations are convenient, they are often not safe. Fatal accidents, hijackings, robberies and assaults have all occurred on these overnight routes. If you can afford to, consider flying instead. Alternatively, take day buses and/or plan to break up your journey along the way.
Most bus companies have departures from Terminal Terrestre or the smaller Terrapuerto bus terminal, both of which are together on Av Andrés Avelino Cáceres, less than 3km south of the city center (take a taxi for US$1). Check in advance which terminal your bus leaves from and keep a close watch on your belongings while you’re waiting there. There’s a US$0.30 departure tax from either terminal. Both terminals have shops, restaurants and left-luggage facilities. More chaotic Terminal Terrestre also has a global ATM and a tourist information office.
For Lima (US$12 to US$40, 16 to 18 hours), Cruz del Sur (42 7375), Ormeño (42 4113) and several other companies operate daily buses, mostly leaving in the afternoon. Many Lima-bound buses stop en route at other south coast destinations, including Camaná ($4.50, 3½ hours), Nazca (US$7 to US$36, 10 to 12 hours) and Ica (US$9 to US$38, 13 to 15 hours); Pisco is about 6km west of the Panamericana, and few buses go direct. Many of the same companies also have overnight buses to Cuzco (US$7.50 to US$21, nine to 11 hours), either on a direct, mostly paved road or the asphalted highways via Juliaca.
If you’re heading toward Lake Titicaca, direct buses to Juliaca (US$3.60, five hours) and Puno (US$4.50, six hours) leave every half hour throughout the day from Terminal Terrestre. Some continue to Desaguadero (US$7.50, seven to eight hours) on the Bolivian border. Direct services to La Paz, Bolivia, are supposedly offered, but these usually involve a change of buses or at least a stop for a couple of cold predawn hours while you wait for the border posts to open.
Transportes del Carpio (42 7049) has hourly daytime departures for Mollendo (US$1.50 to US$2.50, 1½ to two hours). Cruz del Sur has the most comfortable buses to Tacna (US$6.50, six to seven hours) via Moquegua (US$4.50, four hours). These southern destinations are also served by Ormeño, Flores (23 8741) and several smaller bus companies. For Ilo (US$5.50, five hours), Flores has 10 departures per day from either Terminal Terrestre or its own Flores terminal (23 4021, 24 4988), diagonally across the roundabout.
Many buses useful for sightseeing in the canyon country also leave from Terminal Terrestre and Terrapuerto. Travel times and costs can vary depending on road conditions. During the wet season (between December and April), expect significant delays.
Heading for the Cañón del Colca, there are only a few daily buses for Chivay (US$2.40, three hours); they continue to Cabanaconde (US$4.50, six hours) at the end of the canyon’s main road. In order of recommendation, bus companies include Andalucia (44 5089, 53 1166), Reyna (43 0612) and Transportes Colca (42 6357). Try to catch the earliest daylight departure, usually around 5am.
For buses to Corire (US$3, three hours) to visit the Toro Muerto petroglyphs, Transportes del Carpio has hourly daytime services. Transportes del Carpio also goes hourly to the Valle de Majes (US$3, three hours) for river running, as do other small bus companies. Transportes Trebol (82 9319) usually has a service departing around 4am daily for Corire that continues to Andagua (US$8, 10 to 12 hours) to visit El Valle de los Volcanes. The bus leaves Andagua for the return trip to Arequipa at around 4pm.
For the Cañón del Cotahuasi (US$7.50 to US$10, 12 hours), Reyna has a 4pm departure and Transportes Alex (42 4605) has a 4:30pm departure.
The train station is over 1km south of the Plaza de Armas. Services between Arequipa and Juliaca and Puno on Lake Titicaca have been suspended, although PeruRail (21 3530; www.perurail.com) will run trains as a private charter for large tourist groups. The Arequipa–Juliaca part of the route is bleak, but the views of the altiplano (Andean plateau) are appealing and you’ll see vicuñas, alpacas and llamas along the way, plus flamingos if you’re lucky.
Arequipa’s airport (code AQP; 44 3464) is about 8km northwest of the city center.
LAN (20 1224; Santa Catalina 118C) has daily flights to Lima and Cuzco. Aero Condor Perú (22 6660; Portal de San Agustín 119) has surprisingly cheap flights to Tacna near the Chilean border, but they’re often booked up far in advance.