The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

Peru: Buses

In Peru, you can voyage in style on long-haul buses for pretty darn cheap. And you want to be in style when the majority of trips are over 6 hours long. We’ve taken three bus rides so far (9 hrs from Lima to Trujillo with another 9 for the trip back, and 21 hrs Lima-Cusco) with two different companies. Both companies have seats far superior to those in economy-class planes.

With the exception of one (and I don’t know its destination/distance traveled), the buses I’ve seen in Peru are double deckers. The first level is 1st class, but sometimes the whole bus is considered first class, especially if it is a night bus. All the seats recline, but not all reclining seats are created equal. Many a company claims to sell “cama” seats--or bed seats--but few are the ones that recline a full 180˚.

Cruz del Sur sells their best class as VIP, but I’ve yet to see the 180˚ seats on their buses. They do travel with 2 drivers and have all sorts of safety measures that they take (satellite monitoring, laser road-sweeps to identify obstacles in the bus’s path...), so you feel pretty good in their hands. They are a little more expensive, but I appreciated their drivers a lot more than those of Movil Tours, the company we traveled with for our return to Lima. On the Movil Tours bus, I was woken several times in the night by the driver swerving or hitting his brakes.

Something to keep in mind on the long trips is food and drinks. The buses do have a concession service, but like anywhere, you’ll pay more for it than if you bring along a few provisions yourself. Meal servings are usually generous in Peru; not so on the buses. And the quality...meh...leaves a lot to be desired. If you don’t find colored bread (fluo green, frex) amusing, be afraid.

In our experience, it’s been pretty much a joke when the company (Cruz del Sur, in this case) asks your meal preference. “Chicken, beef, or vegetarian?” they asked for our Lima-Trujillo trip (90 NS*/person), and out they brought tuna sandwiches with one slice the aforementioned green bread and another of white with brown swirls, a ham roll on whole wheat, and a cream & fruit tartlette that was actually quite tasty. That was at 10:20 pm, and there wasn’t anything for breakfast.

For our 21hr Lima-Cusco (180 NS/person) leg, Cruz del Sur didn’t bother asking what kind of supper we wanted, and everyone got lomo saltado with chicken (typical Peruvian dish of stir-fried meat and veggies heaped over french fries and served with rice. Yum; starch!). Breakfast was a strawberry yoghurt, a pastry with ham and cheese, and the most god-awful muffin I ever tasted. I had to spit out my first and only bite.

Movil Tours (65 NS/person) didn’t ask what we wanted and served a pig in the blanket, a savory cookie, and a kind of sweet pastry. Nothing for brekky, but we kept the supper and had it in the morning, with the exception of the pig in the blanket. You can’t pay me to eat things like that. Yes, frigg , that is my food snobbism coming out.

If you are traveling by bus (anywhere, not just Peru), think about asking for a seat as far away from the toilets as possible. It may seem like common sense to do that, but when you are in a country where your grasp of the language isn’t all that great, you may forget to ask. You (ok, I ) tend to just smile and nod when the agent points to a chair on the seating chart. DON’T do that. After just a few hours on a bus, even the cleanest toilet is going to start smelling ripe. Which brings me to my next travel tip...

Take something--think hygenic wipes, hand cream, a hanky dabbed with essential oils, or, my personal favorite, Tiger Balm--to help you combat any nasty odors that might arise. Those toilets I just mentioned or, perhaps, the reak of vomit from the lady puking into a plastic sack just behind you. Having the Tiger Balm to inhale seriously kept both Julien and me from gagging when we were surrounded by those icky odiferous exhalations.

Motion sickness pills are handy to have along (I was this > < close to taking some), as is a pair of earplugs (actually needed them in a of couple hotels, but that’s another post).

*NS = nuevo soles about 3NS to $1 or 4NS to 1€.
Tags: peru, round-the-world, south america

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