Airplane: Domestic flight schedules and prices change frequently. New airlines appear every year, and just as many close due to poor safety standards. Most cities are served by modern aircraft, some smaller cities by propeller aircraft.
According to mathgeneral, the main season for air travel in Peru is from late May to early September around major holidays. For smaller destinations (everything except Lima and Cuzco) you should buy the tickets as far in advance as possible, as there are not that many flights here.
It is almost impossible to buy tickets just before public holidays, especially Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter) and Fiestas Patrias (the last week of July). Overbooking is the norm in Peru.
Make sure to confirm your flights 72 hours before departure. Flight times are often changed or flights canceled in Peru, so you should call the airport for the latest information before departure. Flight confirmations are especially important during the main travel season June, July and August.
Airlines in Peru
LAN – Peru’s major domestic airline flies to tourist destinations (Arequipa, Cuzco, Iquitos, Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo) as well as to Arica, Chiclayo, Juliaca, Piura, Tacna and Tarapoto.
Aero Condor Peru – flies to Lima, Arequipa, Cuzco, Iquitos, Andahuaylas, Chiclayo, Ayacucho, Trujillo, Cajamarca, Tacna, Piura and Puerto Maldonado.
Star Peru – flies most often to Cuzco, less often to Iquitos, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Pucallpa and Tarapoto.
LC Busre – mainly charter flights with small propeller planes and some scheduled flights between Lima, Cajamarca, Ayacucho, Pucallpa and Huanuco.
TACA – International airline with domestic flights between Lima and Cuzco.
Most domestic airlines have offices in Lima. Smaller cities are not served daily. Here the airports often consist of no more than a strip of grass in the rainforest.
You should be at the airport at least one hour before departure (at least 90 minutes earlier in Cuzco and two hours in Lima), as your flight can be overbooked, baggage and check-in procedures are usually chaotic and flights are usually poor Weather can depart before the stated flight time. However, flights are also often delayed.
Ship: There is no passenger traffic with ferries along the Peruvian coast. In the Andean highlands, boats travel on Lake Titicaca. Small motorized ships carry travelers from the port in Puno to various islands on the lake, while hydrofoils and catamarans go to Bolivia. Passenger ships are of great importance
in Peru’s Amazon basin. Larger ships sail the wider rivers, while motorized dugout canoes are used as water taxis on smaller rivers.
Large river boats sail from Pucallpa and Yurimaguas to Iquitos and Brazil. Cargo is transported on the lower deck of these boats, the upper deck (or decks) is for passengers and crew.
In the ports there are boards showing the names of the ships, destinations and departure times, although the departure times are usually not adhered to. The best thing to do is to ask the captain about the departure times, no one else can say anything. The departure time often depends on a full load and mañana (tomorrow) can drag on for several days if the ship is not yet full. As a rule, you can sleep on board while waiting and save the hotel bill. Never leave your luggage unattended.
On the ship you can sleep in a hammock you brought with you or in a rented cabin. If you use a hammock, you may be able to escape the noisy engine room and direct light (cabins often stay lit until late at night). Cabins are often hot and stuffy during the day, but lockable (for luggage) and tolerable at night. The sanitary facilities on board are simple but functional, usually there is a pump shower.
Basic groceries are usually included in the fare, but on some larger ships or if you book a cabin, the meals can be better too. If you are careful with the food you should bring your own food. Bottled soft drinks are usually available on board and are inexpensive.
Buses are the usual mode of transport for most Peruvians and many travelers. The ticket prices are relatively cheap. There are many connections on the main long-distance routes, but the quality of the buses varies. Remote, rural routes are often driven by older vehicles that don’t have much legroom. Try to avoid sitting in the back of the bus, it rocks a lot more here than in the front.
There are numerous competing Peruvian bus companies in Peru, none of which covers the entire country.
Buses rarely leave on time in the rainy season, especially in the highlands and in the rainforest, there can be longer delays. The specified travel times can double from January to April in particular, and connections can even be postponed indefinitely due to landslides and poor road conditions.
Both local and long-distance buses are not particularly safe, and fatal accidents are not uncommon in Peru. Avoid night bus rides when robberies and attacks are more likely.
The larger companies often have luxury buses (including Imperial, Royal, Business or Executive), these are up to ten times more expensive than the Económico class. The luxury buses have toilets, snack bars, video and air conditioning systems. Some companies offer bus camas (bed buses) in which the seat can be partially or fully folded back. Usually only economico buses are offered for journeys under six hours, which are usually quite worn out.
Timetables and prices change frequently and differ from company to company. Students with international student cards sometimes receive a small discount. In the off-season, some companies offer discounted tariffs. Around public holidays, especially around Christmas, Semana Santa (the week up to Easter) or Fiesta Patrias (end of July), fares can double, and you should book a few days in advance for these periods.
At other times, bookings for short journeys are generally not required. Just go to the terminal and buy a ticket for the next bus to your destination. For long-distance and night buses and for more remote destinations with limited connections, buy your ticket a day in advance.
When you wait at the bus station, be careful with your luggage. Some terminals have luggage storage facilities.
During the journey, your luggage will be in the hold unless it is small enough to take on board. This is pretty safe. Make sure, however, that your bag is actually loaded onto the bus.
Hand luggage is a different matter. If you fall asleep with a camera around your neck, the strap could be cut and the camera stolen. Do not carry valuables around openly. Some travelers prefer to take their backpacks with them on the bus as luggage is occasionally stolen from the hold. However, this only works if your luggage is small enough to slide between your legs or to hold on your lap. Never store your bags in the overhead racks, they are unsecured.
Local buses are slow and narrow but very cheap. Micros or station wagons, sometimes colectivos, are a faster alternativecalled (although this term usually refers to taxis). Usually micros and station wagons or minibuses or minivans are full of passengers. They can be recognized by stickers, usually there is a sign behind the windshield with the destination. You can stop them anywhere on the route. A ticket vendor typically leans out of the vehicle and calls out the destination. Note, however, that these modes of transport are not very safe either. The only seat with seat belts is next to the driver, but in a frontal collision (which happens again and again) it is also the most dangerous seat for a passenger.
Rail: The private railway company PeruRail has daily connections between Cuzco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) and three weekly connections between Cusco and Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Passenger traffic between Puno and Arequipa has been suspended indefinitely, but groups can charter trips.
Train fans will want to eat with the Ferrocarril Central Andino on the highest railway line in the world. Here a height of more than 4,800 m is reached. The train runs weekly between Lima, La Oroya and Huancayo from mid-April to October. In Huancayo, cheap trains run daily to Huancavelica. Another historic railway runs daily between Tacna, Peru’s south coast and Arica in Chile. The Hiram Bingham luxury train runs daily between Poroy and Machu Picchu. Between Lima and Cuzco.
The train schedule in Peru changes frequently. There are two timetables for summer and winter.
Foreigners are only allowed to travel on special tourist trains and not on local trains. In general, a distinction is made between two train classes: Backpacker and Vistadome (a comfortable wagon with food and service).
Car: The most important road in Peru is the Carretera Panamericana, it leads from Tumbes on the Pacific coast to Tacna on the border with Chile. Another important stretch of the country runs from eastern Lima over the Andes Mountains to Huancayo, San Ramon, La Merced, Huanuco, Tingo Maria and Pucallpa.
There are few paved roads in Peru. In the rainy season it can happen that roads (especially between the coast and the mountains) have to be closed due to landslides. The customs permit issued upon entry must be clearly visible on foreign vehicles.
It is a long distance from Lima to most destinations in Peru, so it is advisable to travel by bus or plane to your destination and rent a car there. Given all of the difficulties and potential dangers of driving a car in Peru, it may be a better idea to hire a taxi instead.
At checkpoints where police or military carefully check documents, you can occasionally see Peruvian drivers slipping an official some money. This is not seen as an illegal bribe but as a “gift” or direct payment of a fine. If you drive and are involved in an accident that has resulted in injuries, you should know that in such cases drivers are routinely detained for several days or even weeks until the innocence is determined.
International car rental companies (including Avis, Hertz, Dollar, National, AAA, Mitsui, Rentandina, Budget and American) have offices in Lima and several other major cities in Peru. Renting a motorcycle is a possibility, especially in the jungle cities, where you can make smaller excursions in the vicinity of the city but not much further.
Car rental prices start from US $ 25 per day. In addition, however, sales tax of 19%, airport fees and accident insurance, among other things, must not be paid less than 55 US dollars per day. SUVs are the most expensive.
A credit card is required and you must usually be at least 25 years old. A national driver’s license is sufficient for stays of less than 30 days; an international driver’s license is required for longer periods.
Organized tours : The main tourist cities in Peru have dozens of travel agencies offering group tours in the area. Note, however, that such group tours rarely give you enough time to devote to the places you plan to visit. The big exception is trekking on the Inca Trail, for which you are legally obliged to join a group tour.
Lima, Cuzco, Arequipa, Puno, Trujillo, Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos have most of the travel agencies that offer organized tours.
For special, individual or small groups, you can also hire a Spanish-speaking guide for around US $ 25 per day plus expenses. Guided tours in English or other languages are more expensive. Some student or unregistered guides are cheaper, but the usual caveats apply here – some are good, some are not. It’s always good to ask other travelers for up-to-date recommendations.
Taxis are everywhere in Peru. A distinction must be made here between private vehicles with a taxi sticker on the windshield and registered taxis (usually recognizable by an illuminated taxi sign on the roof). The official taxis can also be ordered by phone. Women traveling alone should use the official taxis, especially at night.
Always ask for the fare before departure as there are no taximeters. Negotiating the asking price is acceptable, try to find out what the common tariffs are beforehand. Tipping is not common.
Renting a taxi for longer journeys costs less than renting your own car, and the driver takes care of any potential problems.
Colectivo taxis for several fellow travelers and longer tours often wait in busy places and roundabouts.
Bicycle: The big disadvantage for cyclists in Peru is car traffic. Cars can be a serious hazard for cyclists on the narrow, two-lane highways. Cycling is more comfortable and safer, but also very demanding, on unpaved back roads. Mountain bikes are recommended as the driving conditions in Peru can be quite rough.
In popular travel destinations such as Cuzco, Arequipa, Lima and Huancayo there are affordable rental bikes (mostly mountain bikes). However, these bikes are only suitable for local trips, not touring across the country. For longer journeys you should bring your own bike.