For those who don't mind long and often uncomfortable trips, traveling by bus is a great option to get around Peru on a budget. On top of that, when traveling by bus, you're bound to see magnificent sights and meet interesting people.
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Why travel by bus?
First the list of reasons that might detract you from taking a bus to get to your final destination.
If you don't know Spanish, finding your way can be a challenge. You've got to find your way to bus stations and be able to communicate with employees who don't necessarily know English. For many travelers, this isn't a problem. For others, it might make the difference between choosing to travel by bus, or choosing to fly.
Traveling by bus in Peru is more dangerous than flying. Drivers are notorious for working long shifts and for speeding through their routes. On top of this, a trip from Lima to the Amazon will range from 20 to 30 hours, depending on where you are going, and if you are traveling in the rainy season, or in the dry season.
It is also important to know that there have been occasional robberies and even rapes that have been more common during the last few years. This is extremely rare, but several incidents have occurred during the last few years.
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So why would you ever choose to take a bus instead of taking a one hour flight?
Bus travel is much cheaper. While booking domestic flights in Peru will cost you between 60 and 150 us dollars, a bus trip will cost you a third as much. And there is always the option to pay a small bit more and to take a luxury bus with leather seats that recline into beds. Known in Spanish as a Bus Cama, these can be booked for travel all across Peru.
Meals on buses
Most bus trips include basic meals, as well as nonstop movies that are so horrible that you will probably regret wasting the time to watch them. This is why I highly recommend that you bring earplugs. If you don't like eating white rice, meat chunks, and saltine crackers, bring your own food.
How to find a bus out of Lima
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If you're going north, it might be easier to take a bus from Terminal NorteThis terminal services most cities that are north of Lima. If you are arriving to Lima from the airport, this terminal makes more sense to leave from, because it is close by. The terminals and bus companies located further south in the neighborhood of La Victoria, by contrast, require an hour-long trip from the airport.
To the junglesThere are almost a dozen companies that have routes between Tarapoto and Pucallpa, and they’re all located within a few blocks of each-other: near the cross-streets of 28 de Julio and Manco Capac, a few blocks away from the national stadium. To get to Pucallpa, Transmar is a good option, and the trip should take you 18-20 hours. To get to Tarapoto, Movil tours is recommended as well, and it should take you between 24 hours and 30 hours.
South and central Peru
To get to these parts of the country, check out the various bus stations located in the vicinity of the national stadium.
Cover art: Wikipedia