Peruvian Transport

Peru has one train line, a 12 hour line between Cuzco and Puno. It only has one class – first class – it costs over $300, and serves, among other meals, ‘High Tea’. As you can imagine, this makes it pretty much the reserve of rich American tourists…

So, we realised pretty early on that we would be getting buses around the country, but unfortunately slightly underestimated the distances involved – we had a pretty grim 4 days last week with an 8 hour bus journey every day. Many tourists fly between towns but alas, our purses don’t stretch that far!

The first buses we encountered were the Lima city buses, small white minibuses. I would say they outnumbered normal cars 3:1 – everywhere you look in the road is filled with these little buses. What’s funny is that the driver of each bus gets paid not by the hour, but by how many passengers they get, which leads to the strange situation where bus drivers literally try and do everything they can to force you onto their bus, regardless of whether you actually want to go to their destination! So you have to be pretty firm and only get on when you are sure they are going to the right place, and are not just saying that they are…

The intercity buses are a completely different story – some of them are extremely luxurious, much more so than anything I’ve seen in England. ‘Cruz del Sur’ buses in particular are something out of this world, with massive comfy seats, ‘cabin attendants’, and complimentary hot meals delivered to your seat. Just to get onto the bus you have to go through a check in process as if you were catching a flight – check in at a desk, drop backpacks at the ‘baggage drop’, go through security, have hand luggage scanned, have your face scanned by a video camera so they can keep you on record – I have to say the whole thing felt a bit overkill just for a bus trip!

Alex however (of course) immediately decided that “he felt completely at home” and “that we would be taking these buses the whole way”. I found the whole experience slightly sterile and sanitised so we’ve since tried other buses, perhaps slightly more authentic and less tourist-focused – the most irritating possibly a bus which insisted on playing Vietnam war movies at full volume for 8 hours – try sleeping through prolonged loud gunfire and screaming, I can tell you it’s pretty hard!

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One comment

  1. We took the train from Puno to Cuzco! It was a bit posh but an exciting experience if you’re ever back in Peru and don’t fancy those long coach journeys!

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