Peru (mainly Lima) has direct flights to and from cities all over the Americas, as well as continental Europe. Other locations require a connection.
Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.
Airports & Airlines
Located in the port city of Callao, Lima’s Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez has terminals sparkling with shopping and services. A major hub, it’s serviced by flights from North, Central and South America, and two regular direct flights from Europe (Madrid and Amsterdam). Check the airport website or call for updated departure and arrival schedules for domestic and international flights. Cuzco has the only other airport with international services.
Peak season From most places in the world, South America can be a relatively costly destination. The high season for air travel to and within Peru is late May to early September, as well as around major holidays. Look for lower fares outside peak periods.
Discounts Shopping around online can turn up cheaper tickets. Students with international student ID cards (ISIC is one widely recognized card) and anyone under 26 years can often get discounts with budget or specialty travel agencies. A good option to check out is STA Travel (www.statravel.com), with offices around the globe.
Tax Tickets bought in Peru are subject to a 19% tax (included in the ticket price).
Reconfirming flights It is essential to reconfirm all flights 72 hours in advance, either by phone or online, or you may get bumped off the flight. If you are traveling in remote areas, have a reputable travel agent do this for you.
Australia & New Zealand
Santiago, Chile, tends to be the most common gateway city from Australia and New Zealand, though some carriers connect through the US as well.
South American Travel Centre In Australia, this agency specializes in travel to Latin America.
There are direct flights to Lima from Toronto, but most trips require a connection in the US or Mexico City.
There are direct flights from Amsterdam and Madrid, but connections through the USA, Central America or Colombia are often cheaper.
There are direct flights from a large number of Latin American cities to Peru, including Bogotá, Leticia, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guayaquil, La Paz, Mexico City, Panama City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, San José (Costa Rica), Santiago (Chile) and São Paulo. LATAM, Copa and TACA are the principal Latin American airlines that fly to Lima.
UK & Ireland
Flights from the UK or Ireland connect through gateway cities in continental Europe, North America and Brazil.
There are direct (nonstop) flights to Lima from Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. In other cases, flights will connect either in the US or in Latin American gateway cities such as Mexico City and Bogotá.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
Land & River
Because no roads bridge the Darien Gap, it is not possible to travel to South America by land from the north. Driving overland from neighboring Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador requires careful logistical planning.
Bus and train International bus companies go to Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. Smaller regional companies do cross-border travel, but on a more-limited basis. The only rail service that crosses the Peru border is the train between Arica, Chile, and Tacna on Peru’s south coast.
Boat Getting to Peru by boat is possible from points on the Amazon River in Brazil and from Leticia (Colombia), as well as to the port cities on Peru’s Pacific coast.
Tickets With any form of transport, it may be a bit cheaper to buy tickets to the border, cross over and then buy onward tickets on the other side, but it’s usually much easier, faster and safer to buy a cross-border through ticket. When traveling by bus, check carefully with the company about what is included in the price of the ticket, and whether the service is direct or involves a transfer, and possibly a long wait, at the border.
Peru is normally reached overland from Bolivia via Lake Titicaca; the border crossing at Yunguyo is much safer and a lot less chaotic than its counterpart at Desaguadero. There are many transportation options for both of these routes, most of which involve changing buses at the Peru–Bolivia border before reaching Puno. It’s possible, but a logistical feat, to cross into Bolivia from Puerto Maldonado.
You can travel overland between Peru and Brazil via Iñapari. Traveling from Iquitos, it’s more straightforward to go along the Amazon to Tabatinga in Brazil via Leticia, Colombia.
Traveling on the Pan-American Hwy, the major crossing point is between Arica, Chile, and Tacna on Peru’s south coast.
Long-distance buses to Tacna depart from Lima, Arequipa and Puno. Colectivo (shared) taxis are the fastest and most reliable way to travel between Tacna and Arica. It’s also possible to make the crossing, albeit much more slowly, by train; border formalities are done at the respective stations. Flights to Tacna from Arequipa are cheap but book up quickly. Alternatively, buses go from Lima all the way to Santiago, Chile. From Arequipa, buses go to Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires.
It is easiest to travel between Peru and Colombia via Ecuador. Ormeño has through buses between Lima and Bogotá via Ecuador. This long-haul trip is better done in stages, though.
If you are in the rainforest, it is more straightforward to voyage along the Amazon by boat between Iquitos and Leticia, Colombia, from where there are flights to Bogotá.
The most common way to get to or from Ecuador is along the Pan-American Hwy via Tumbes, where there is a border-crossing station. Another route is via La Tina to Loja in Ecuador. A third way is via Jaén. Cifa runs buses between Tumbes in Peru and Machala or Guayaquil in Ecuador. From Piura, Transportes Loja goes via La Tina to Macará and Loja. Ormeño has weekly through buses between Lima and Quito.
International cruise lines may stop in Peru, but there are no regional public services from nearby countries.