Buses are the usual form of transportation for most Peruvians and many travelers. Fares are cheap and services are frequent on the major long-distance routes, but buses are of varying quality. Don’t always go with the cheapest option – check their safety records first. Remote rural routes are often served by older, worn-out vehicles. Seats at the back of the bus yield a bumpier ride.
Many cities do not have a main bus terminal. Buses rarely arrive or depart on time, so consider most average trip times as best-case scenarios. Buses can be significantly delayed during the rainy season, particularly in the highlands and the jungle. From January to April, journey times may double or face indefinite delays because of landslides and bad road conditions.
Fatal accidents are not unusual in Peru.
Avoid overnight buses, on which muggings and assaults are more likely to occur.
Luxury buses Invariably called Imperial, Royal, Business or Executive, these higher-priced express services feature toilets, videos and air-conditioning. Luxury buses serve paltry snacks and don’t stop.
Bus-camas Feature seats which recline halfway or almost fully. Better long-distance buses stop for bathroom breaks and meals in special rest areas with inexpensive but sometimes unappetizing fare. Almost every bus terminal has a few kiosks with basic provisions.
Económico For trips under six hours, you may have no choice but to take an económico bus, and these are usually pretty beaten up. While económico services don’t stop for meals, vendors will board and sell snacks.
Schedules and fares change frequently and vary from company to company; therefore, quoted prices are only approximations.
Fares fluctuate during peak and off-peak travel times. For long-distance or overnight journeys, or travel to remote areas with only limited services, buy your ticket at least the day before. Most travel agencies offer reservations but overcharge shockingly for the ticket. Except in Lima, it’s cheaper to take a taxi to the bus terminal and buy the tickets yourself.
You can check schedules online (but not make reservations, at least not yet) for the major players, including the following:
Cruz del Sur (www.cruzdelsur.com.pe)
Transportes Línea (www.linea.pe)