So, you landed in Lima and spent a few days admiring the city, but the main part of your trip to Peru is all about the Incan ruins of Cusco and its nearby Andean towns, such as Machu Picchu and Moray. Your budget doesn’t allow for flights between the two cities, as this is expensive, so it’s time to start planning that epic bus journey to Cusco!
Cruz del Sur is the ONLY recommendation for a bus journey in Peru, and from Lima to Cusco it takes nearly 22 hours by bus (annoyingly, there is no rail service between these two cities). Price is $58 per person, you get a “suite” rather than a seat, and the coach is a double decker, with all modern amenities (including WIFI). Buses leave Lima at 14.00 and 17.30, so you need to decide which one is best for your itinerary. Either way, you’ll be spending the night on the coach.
The first thing that struck me when boarding the 14.00hrs bus was the comfy seating and the fresh air conditioning inside the bus. I think I was expecting the worst having read some reviews online, but luckily everything seemed ok upon initial inspection. One thing I would say is that leather seats get cold and feel much more awkward in the cool temperatures of the bus, whereas other fabrics on the seat would give a more warm touch. There are small television screens on the back of each seat, so you can watch television programmes or movies during the journey, and although these are either dubbed or subtitled in English, the text is very small so you may have trouble reading it anyway. I watched among other things the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, which is the best part of 15 years old (but it’s still a cool movie!).
We got 3 meals on Cruz del Sur and they were aircraft-like compact meals, but at least they were warmed up before serving. Some bus companies on this route just serve up bags of crisps, a chocolate bar, and a bottle of Inca Kola throughout the journey. I found the timings of the meals a little strange, as if you were asleep during the “meal service” then you would miss the meal, and some people sitting behind us never got their meal when they awoke, which seemed pretty poor service from Cruz del Sur, to be honest. However, you cannot stay awake for the whole journey (well you could, if you could last 22 hours without sleep), and most of us will want to get some kip at some point. Cruz del Sur supply branded cotton blankets to keep you warm (the bus does get very cold as you head towards Cusco) and the on most buses there are reclining seats to give you that added comfort before dozing off.
We arrived just after 13.00 the next day, which was actually 23 hours rather than 22 hours that was advertised, but one thing you will learn about Peruvian roads is that they can be unreliable (and bumpy) even at the best of times! There were some people on the bus who began feeling quite ill as we winded up the mountainous roads, and this was due to motion sickness. Make sure you have some medication with you if you think you will suffer from this kind of thing! Upon arrival in Cusco, and after negotiating the tricky Bus Terminal, your real adventure begins! Just make sure you learn the phrase “which way to Machu Picchu?” in Spanish…