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The Best Ways to Get Around Peru

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 16-06-2022

This spectacular Andean country is large in size and whose geographical prowess, is the main reason why so many people want to visit. Along with its geographical characteristics, we find a mountainous backbone that divides the country down the middle. On one side, the coastline is long, with stretches of arid desert, the other side, is home to regions of lush green, tropical forest. Due to its size and different geographical borders, travel around Peru can be quite a challenge, especially when you throw in climatic factors. Luckily the country has a variety of transportation methods and travel in Peru can be an enchanting experience. Often traveling around Peru comes down to one deciding factor; How much time you have. If time allows, you can travel the country by bus, car or train to see this magical country. However, if your vacation is a short one, then air travel could be the best way to travel around Peru. Certain routes in Peru, only have road access and some, like the mind-blowing Machu Picchu, have no road access at all! But as they say, travel is the main part of the journey, not just the destination!


Peru´s Famous Moto Taxi


Air Travel

In Peru, the main choice of many travelers is to travel by air, especially those tourists and foreigners who travel to Peru for a week or two. Not surprising, as it is one of the most practical ways to reach your destination in a few hours. This Andean country can be deceptively large and its geographical regions often make it difficult to get through by road. You can reach the main tourist destinations in Peru by air, although not always directly. If you plan to travel to high-altitude cities or destinations, beware of altitude sickness. When traveling by plane this can affect you more than traveling gradually by bus. Peru has five international airports, including Lima. The other four are in Arequipa, Cusco, Iquitos and Piura. These airports receive flights from other South American countries. And in addition, the country has 18 additional airports with regularly scheduled domestic services. The national airline with the best reputation and most present in the country is LATAM Avianca, and Star Peru also operate regular services throughout Peru. Bear in mind that flights can be cancelled or delayed and can even leave earlier than scheduled, especially to jungle destinations, where weather can be an issue. For this reason, it is always advisable to arrive an hour or two before. It is advisable to travel light, as airlines have changed their policies and offer flights with just carry-on included. You will have to pay extra to check-in luggage. Being able to fly between destinations will save you a lot of time, but prices can vary. If you plan to travel around Peru during peak season, be sure to book your tickets well in advance. There are excellent offers available if you book in advance and could cost the same as bus journey, at a fraction of the time. 


Flying Over The Andes


Bus travel

Another way to travel around Peru is via bus. This is the cheapest and most popular form of transportation in the country and certainly, for many Peruvians, it is the only form of transportation. Buses reach destinations a little further afield than the airlines and in Peru, you will find an extensive and complex network of private bus companies. This form of travel can be a bit confusing. Especially when there are so many companies that operate their own bus stations. With so much competition, you will find an endless number of private companies willing to take you at affordable prices. But luggage theft is a problem on the economy class buses. Passengers have to watch their carry-on items very carefully, especially when luggage is unloaded. With private bus companies, this is less of a problem. You can also take the easy route to enjoy your tours in Peru with a travel agent or tour operator. Buses, are relatively punctual, they can suffer delays due to unforeseen circumstances such as strikes, weather conditions, punctures, breakdowns, or landslides. Make sure you see where your bus leaves from as quite often, where you buy the ticket, is not the departure point. The most popular and safest bus companies are Cruz del Sur, Ormeño, Oltursa and Flores. These are reliable options if you are heading south of Lima or cruising the coast. Smaller, independent bus companies often sell their tickets through the offices of reputable companies. This may not seem obvious, so it is advisable to verify your ticket. It is also a good idea to inquire about the quality of the vehicle you are traveling in. It is common to buy a ticket for a luxury bus with the “buscama” service however the bus that arrives at the terminal could be a completely different vehicle!


Bus Travel in Peru


Train Travel

 Another popular way to travel around Peru is by train. It is true that not all destinations have train travel but it is a unique experience and traveling by train is an attraction in itself. One of the most popular routes connects Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. Today these make up one of the most popular train routes in the country. Two tourist train companies offer services along this route. Inca Rail and Peru Rail. Both companies offer luxury trains to enjoy an unparalleled experience. If you prefer not to trek, this is one of the best ways to get to Machu Picchu. Peru is the ideal country to enjoy a scenic train journey. Another popular route is from Puno, home of Lake Titicaca. From here you can head to Cusco and continue your journey by train. From Lima, there is only one train, the Ferrocarril Central Andino. This line heads north, crossing the Andes, to the cities of Cerro de Pasco and Huancayo. This train operates a few times a month, so advance planning is necessary.  With regard to trains, you can expect availability throughout the year and if you plan to travel by train to Machu Picchu, you will find a high frequency of trains. Train tickets, like tickets to the archaeological site, require a reservation in advance. There is no doubt that enjoying a train trip to Machu Picchu is one of the best things to do in Peru. No matter which train route you are taking, it is always recommended to buy tickets well in advance. If you plan to travel during peak season, then it is advisable to book at least two months in advance. You can do it at a travel agency within your country of origin or at the respective train offices in Cusco. It can even make it easy to talk to a tour operator. Another thing to keep in mind is that most trains in Peru have distinctive prices for foreigners and locals. 


Train To Puno


Another way to travel around Peru is via a private or rented car. Being able to rent a car is just as easy as in other parts of the world. It is not usually that common among travelers from Latin America, but it can be an entertaining way to get to know the country. If you are looking for a more independent experience and moving at your own pace, this is definitely a good idea. This option is obviously not for everyone and you will have to be brave and confident to take the wheel as a visitor. The main car rental companies are located in Lima. And outside of Lima, they can be a bit difficult to find. But there is also the option of renting a car in advance online. You will notice how the roads outside the cities are much quieter than in the bigger cities and car hire offers the opportunity to get to know the countryside of Peru. Renting a car within Peru is no different than renting a car in other parts of the world. You can expect similar prices to those you find in Europe and North America. 


River crossing by road in The Amazon


So, there are many ways to travel around Peru, ask yourself the question about how you prefer to spend your holidays in Peru. If you want to know the different and wonderful destinations of Peru, you will find many ways to travel. Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start, but simply ask our experienced Travel designers to help you you’re your preferred method. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!


Amazon Canoe!