When to buy bus tickets in South America? Bus kidnap in Peru and Bolivia?
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Mar 31, 2012 2:36 PM Last Post By: JacktheGringo12
Jan 24, 2012 8:14 AM
Do I have to buy bus ticket one or two days in advance or can I purchase the ticket just before I board when I travel overland in South America?
My initial itinerary --- Peru (Lima-Cusco-Puno) Bolivia (La Paz-Uyuni-Villazon) Argentina (La Quiaca-Salta-Buenos Aires-Puerto Iguazu) Brazil (Foz de Iguazu-Rio de Janeiro)
BTW, read some kidnapping stories that happens on bus from Lima-Cusco and Cusco-La Paz, did anyone encounter any incidents of this kind? I know I have to take the best company like Cruz de Sul for best safety, so those kidnapping only happening on local buses?
Thanks a lot =)
Jan 24, 2012 8:41 AM
Jan 24, 2012 9:15 AM
2Normally you can get bus ticket on the day of travel, but it's recommeded to buy one day prior.
Bus kiddnapping stories are exaggerated. I've personally never heard of one, and have travelled at least 100 times on busses in different SA countries. But, you need to keep an eye on your belongings.
Looking at your itinerary you'd need approximately 10 weeks for your entire journey.
Jan 24, 2012 9:59 AM
Jan 24, 2012 11:48 AM
4You can say that again... coming up with even a single incident of this happening to a foreigner over the last few years would be a challenge.
Here you go: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/31/experience-kidnapped-south-america
Admittedly the chances of being kidnapped from a bus in Peru and most parts of Bolivia are slim to none, but there definitely have been kidnappings from minibuses on the route to La Paz multiple times in the last few years.
Jan 24, 2012 12:00 PM
5Nice try Durs, but no cigar... maybe a cigarillo. This had nothing to do with a bus:
we felt quite reassured when a young woman in baggy clothes and a baseball cap appeared, offering to escort us to La Paz, the capital, about 50 miles away
To be clear, these people did something extremely foolish. They accepted a ride from a stranger (with baggy clothes no less! :D) on unofficial transport. Just... never. Never. NEVERRRRRRRR. She even mentions several other warning signs that should've tipped her off.
Plus the fact that it's an unconfirmed first-person tale from several years ago (entertainingly mixed in with stories like "I was once a man" and "My baby died in a hot car," but that's besides the point)
I still don't doubt that it actually has happened, once or twice, just extremely rarely... I'm still dubious that you could find a case of that happening from an actual official BUS as OP is asking, and curious to see if you can. When this crap happens, it's virtually always on shared taxis or in situations like this one, where inexperienced travelers accept a ride from someone that they shouldn't have.
Jan 25, 2012 8:30 AM
6I read notes keep saying that we should take tourist bus never mini bus, anyone have any more info to help me distinguish the ticket counter to buy tourist bus only? How does the bus counter looks like in Peru and Bolivia? are they like normal train stations in the west that looks like a decent counter for ticket sales? if not I am really concerned to know how they look making sure I am purchasing the right type of tickets and board onto the right type of vehicles.
Thanks a lot for your info guys =)
Jan 25, 2012 9:40 AM
7Mini-busses are generally more informal, usually taking you money on the bus or right outside of it. They'll be easy to avoid (not that you REALLY need to avoid them, the case stated above was one where a victim was picked out by bad folks... rule number one is to not trust overly friendly people who want you to take a certain vehicle).
Jan 25, 2012 11:35 AM
Jan 26, 2012 1:30 PM
9@Cestsio - you'll probably be traveling between the most touristy towns, where there's always a proper bus station. There will be official sales counters at the bus station, you can't go wrong, for example here is s a picture from Arequipa bus station (counters on the left, shops on the right). I think a good bus company will lessen the risk of your things getting stolen (yes, in that respect CdS has more security than others). Plus, most of all take care with taxis, that's where kidnappings (or rather - so-called express kidnappings ) are not unheard of.
The advice would be to take extra precautions and be to some degree distrustful and careful. Distrustful? Don't take up random people's offers of services, however sincere they may seem. If someone claims to be a policeman, don't just do anything he asks. If a taxi driver looks a tad suspicious, follow your hunch. Careful? Don't play with your iPad on a bench in central Lima. Don't carry $1000 in cash around. Set payout limits on your cards and get an insurance on all valuables - so that if you do get robbed, your losses are very limited. That's doable.
Feb 1, 2012 11:20 AM
Feb 1, 2012 3:35 PM
11Emm.... well, I did mention express kidnappings in the same sentence, right? OK, so to elaborate - I haven't heard of kidnappings from buses, but I have heard about kidnappings by taxi drivers (in the express version - express kidnapping ). So if security is something that worries you, you should rather take precautions with taxis, more than with buses, since it's much easier to get express-kidnapped on the way to the bus station :). The LP guidebook warns about this threat multiple times.
In Arequipa at the bus station, there were 2 policewomen helping tourists with taxis (and noting down the taxi driver's ID details when I boarded), so apparently this is not something only LP is worried about.
How do you take care with taxis? Always try to ask your hostel to call a taxi for you. To quote the owner of my hostel in Lima: It's safer this way. Well you can never be 100% sure, obviously things can still happen. But at least I know this guy, I know where he lives. I know where his children go to school. . You get the picture, right? If you're going only to the city center, with limited cash and no cards, and in a group, you can try catching a taxi yourself off the street (agree on price before you get in). If you're coming in from Lima airport, take Taxi Green (there's a thread about them) - do pay up front, otherwise the driver might try to rip you off - 2 or 3 second hand experiences I heard.
If you need to take a taxi off the street - take only official taxis. In Lima you check the type of registration plate (see this link for reference - white plate with the top part yellow). However, in other cities even taxi corporations do not register their cars officially as taxis, so you rather have to make sure it belongs to one of the local companies (phone number on the roof). And don't get in if you don't feel comfortable.
Having written all this, I have to say I did take taxis off the street myself at times (when traveling from the bus station), and encountered no problems. I asked the driver if he knows how to get to my destination, negotiated price patiently etc, just to "get to know" the driver. I don't really know if that helps, but certainly allowed me to relax on the way :).
And anyway, in general even knowing threats makes you safer - if you react with suspicion to typical scam-attempt situations, the thieves will scram and look for a different target (practiced in Buenos Aires with the toothpaste trick).
Mar 31, 2012 2:36 PM
12Hmm... Well good questions.
I think you can buy bus tickets online whenever you want via Tourtle
Though i'm not sure if they've launched yet.
I'd recommend Cruz Del Sur just for the security of it.
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