Getting there & around
Buses arrive at and depart from a bewildering array of individual company terminals scattered throughout the town, but all relatively close to one another. There was supposed to be a new Terminal Terrestre constructed next to the airport; at the time of research, it had not yet materialized.
Most transport connections are with Lima via the relatively fast and spectacular Hwy 24 that traverses the Andes via Rumichaca to Pisco. Night departures outnumber day departures, but day trips are naturally more interesting for the wild scenery en route. Choose your bus and company carefully. Ticket prices to/from Lima range from US$6 for a regular seat to US$15 for a reclining armchair that you can sleep in. The trip takes on average around nine hours. Take warm clothing if traveling by night and especially if taking a cheaper ticket option.
For Lima, Empresa Molina (31 2984; 9 de Diciembre 459) is probably the best overall option. There are two daily departures and no less than seven night departures with the ‘special’ cama service being the best one to take for comfort. Next up, Civa (31 9948; M Cáceres 1242) also offers a cama service at 9:30pm. Cruz del Sur (31 2813; M Cáceres 1264) and Ormeño (31 2495; Libertad 257) offer executive-style services with comfortable seats, but not fully reclinable. Other cheaper options include Turismo Libertadores (31 3614; Tres Mascaras 493, Pje Cáceres, Manco Capác), Antezana (31 3048; Manco Capác 273) and Rey Bus (31 9413; Pje Cáceres 166).
Traveling north or south to other Andean towns presents some challenges as many roads are unsealed and subject to washouts in the rainy season. Destinations in this category include Huancayo to the north and Abancay, Andahuaylas and Cuzco to the south and southeast. Be prepared for delays. For Cuzco (US$14, 22 hours) and Andahuaylas (US$6, 10 hours), seek out Expreso Turismo Los Chancas (31 2391; Pje Cáceres 150), which has four departures daily. It’s a long and rough trip, and the journey can be broken at Andahuaylas.
Huancavelica to the northwest is notoriously hard to get to from Ayacucho.
For Huancayo (US$7, 10 to 12 hours), Empresa Molina is the preferred choice with one daily and five night departures. Take note: this is a tough 250km trip and is not for the faint of heart. Around 200 of those kilometers take you along a rough, narrow, potholed and unpaved road between Huanta and Mariscal Cáceres through the wild Río Mantaro valley. The road runs at times high along unguarded cliff faces with nothing but space between your bus window and the foaming river below. Sit on the right side of the bus if you don’t like vertiginous drops.
Buses to Julcamarca, Cangallo and Vischongo (US$2.50, four hours) leave from the Puente Nuevo area, which is the bridge on Castilla over the Río Alameda. Departures are normally in the morning. Buses leave for Vilcashuamán (five hours) at 5am, 6am, 7am, 8am and 9am.
Pickup trucks and buses go to many local villages, including Quinua (US$0.80, one hour), and to the Wari ruins, departing from the Paradero Magdalena at the traffic circle at the east end of M Cáceres.
The airport is 4km from the town center. Taxis charge under US$2.
Flight times and airlines can change without warning, so check airline websites for the latest schedules.
Aero Condor (31 2418, /fax 31 3060; 9 de Diciembre 123) has a 6am flight from Lima on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, via Andahuaylas, from where it departs for Ayacucho at 7:35am, returning to Lima at 8:45am. The Andahuaylas leg may be cancelled if there are not enough passengers.
The departure tax for domestic flights is $3.57.