Opinions about bus travel in Peru and Bolivia needed. Also an Amazon trip.
We are a fit, mature couple planning to travel independently to Peru and Bolivia next May for about 5-6 weeks. I have been reading travel advice from various sources but would like to know from fellow travellers whether the bus routes and journeys through the mountains are really as scary as they sound!! We want to use buses rather than flights so that we see more. Can anyone recommend a good company to use in either country? Are there any routes to avoid?
We also want to take an Amazon tour in Bolivia but are on a budget. Any suggestions for a reliable tour company to use that isn't totally basic? Thanks.
In Peru the better-class bus companies are generally very good and very safe: it's the cheaper companies on the fringe routes that are more of a problem. I'd particularly recommend:
- Cruz del Sur
Cruz del Sur in particular are excellent, particularly on the Cruzero services in the south of Peru. I can't see you having any problems or being worried unless you're either using the cheaper services or going on some of the off-the-beaten-track routes in the central or northern Andes.
In Bolivia the roads (generally) aren't as good, and the buses are also not up to the quality of Peru. I won't claim to be an expert on Bolivian buses so I'll leave that to someone else to answer... My experience was decidedly mixed, however...
Thanks for your views Dan, your comments were very helpful!
Beverley, I can't speak for Bolivia but as Dan says the buses in Peru are generally good for long distances with first class available and well worth it if you need to sleep. If you are going of the beaten track you will have to use small less reputable companies, I recommend Cruz del Sur, Cial, Exclusiva, El Dorado but there are so many.
When we are traveling in mountainous areas we tend to keep an eye on the newspapers to see about the weather/mudslides ect. There is a high incident of accidents here but you have to bear in. mind that buses are used by so many people, there are literally thousands on the roads so its all relative, Good luck with your trip
Thank you for your reply. I am gathering a good list of bus companies which will be helpful! I am feeling more confident about Peru, but still wondering about Bolivia. Watching the newspapers is a good tip.
I agree with the comments above. We also used Ittsa Bus and they were excellent in northern Peru. We will be in Bolivia in a month or so and will be on the buses so will try to remember to come back here and report.
Thanks - it would be really great to have some info about Bolivia and buses. Also would be interested to know which parts you liked best.
Hi Bev - we have been to Bolivia on its bus system. All I can say is that the quality of the bus and route varies dramatically depending on the route.
For example - going from La Paz to the big cities - there are GREAT buses. we went from La Paz to Cochabamba and I think it was the best bus we had in all of South America... However the bus from La Paz to Rurrenbaque ('only' 18 hours ride) was probably the worst we had - both the bus was old and the road was really bumpy. So if you have the budget and there is good wether - you probably better off flying.
The routes between Oyuni and La Paz and Potosi and La Paz were fair, but not the best - again, it is because the road is bad that the bus deteriorate and so the bus becomes not the best as well.
Regarding Jungle - you can go to Rurrenbaque, which is a very touristy and cute town, with lots of travel agencies and restaurants - there you will easily find a jungle tour for very reasonable budget. We did not go on a jungle tour, but went for the Pampas tour and it was very basic but GREAT!
Another option for jungle tour is to go from Cusco - this is much more expensive though and you should expect to pay around 800-1000$ for a week tour. Again, there are a few agencies doing these trips, but probably not everyday there is a group going and available, but you can manage. I do not remember the name of the company we went with, if my memory will come back will let you know.
Great info, thanks! Really useful to know about the bus routes in Bolivia. We had planned to go to Rurrenbaque as we have been told the tours take you to an unspoilt area of the Amazon - praps that's not true!! So do you think it will be easy to get a tour without booking in advance? I wanted to go to the Amazon from Bolivia rather than Peru. What is the Pampas tour? I have read some of your blogs and really enjoyed them.