Highways in Peru have improved immensely over the last decade, making in-country bus travel not only cheap but efficient. From Lima, buses head to every major city in Peru except water-locked Iquitos.
Unfortunately, there is no main bus station in Lima. Instead, companies have their own terminals in the center and sometimes also on Javier Prado or Paseo de la República near San Isidro. All of these neighborhoods are rough, so take a taxi to and from the terminal and keep a hand on all your belongings.
The two classic and reputable bus companies in Lima are Cruz del Sur and Ormeño. Movil Tours and the new Oltursa, however, both get consistently strong reviews.
Cruz del Sur has a terminal in the center (Quilca 531, tel. 01/451-5125) and near San Isidro (corner of Javier Prado Este 1100, tel. 01/225-5748). Though it does not go as many places as Ormeño, Cruz del Sur’s Cruzero is the most comprehensive bus service in Peru. Best of all, tickets can be bought instantly online, from any agency in Lima, or at the TeleTicket counters at Wong and Metro supermarkets. Spanish speakers can even call the Cruz del Sur call center (tel. 01/311-5050, have passport number ready) and have their tickets delivered free of charge. Payment is in cash upon receipt of tickets. Buses leave first from the central Lima terminal and pick up passengers a half hour later at the Javier Prado terminal. For complete route information, see the website www.cruzdelsur.com.pe.
Ormeño also has a terminal in the center (Carlos Zavala 177, tel. 01/427-5679, www.grupo-ormeno.com.pe) and an international terminal near San Isidro (Javier Prado Este 1059, La Victoria, tel. 01/472-1710). Ormeño has better coverage and is slightly cheaper than Cruz del Sur. To buy an Ormeño ticket, visit a terminal, go through an agency (the agency will get the tickets a few hours later), or call the Spanish-only call center (tel. 01/472-5000). Again, have passport number when calling and cash in hand when the ticket is delivered.
The highly recommended Movil Tours (Paseo de la República 749, La Victoria, tel. 01/332-9000, www.moviltours.com.pe) has a station near San Isidro and runs mainly to the northern cities, including Huaraz, Chachapoyas, and Chiclayo and is about the same price as Ormeño. Phone reservations are accepted for payment at terminal.
The local favorite, Oltursa (Av. Aramburu 1160, Surquillo, tel. 01/225-4499, www.oltursa.com.pe), runs primarily a coastal route, both north and south of Lima. The destinations of Arequipa and Chiclayo are the exceptions to that rule. The company comes highly recommended for its service (some claim that it’s better than Cruz del Sur), and advance reservations can be made by telephone or online.
Phone reservations do not work well at the other companies. Your best bet is to buy tickets at the terminal.
Expreso Wari (Montevideo 809, central Lima, tel. 01/330-3518) goes to Nasca, Ayacucho, and Cusco.
Empresa Molina (Nicolas Arriola and San Luis, central Lima, tel. 01/342-2137) goes to Huancayo, Ayacucho, and Cusco.
Enlaces (Javier Prado Este 1093, La Victoria, tel. 01/265-9041) runs between Lima and Arequipa.
Flores has the best coverage of the small bus companies, lower prices, and a terminal in both central Lima (Montevideo 523) and near San Isidro (Paseo de la República 627, La Victoria). It has cheap buses for Arequipa, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Máncora, Nasca, Piura, Puno, Tacna, Trujillo, and Tumbes. With questions, call 01/332-1212 or enter the company’s website at www.floreshnos.com.
Mariscal Cáceres has offices both in central Lima (Carlos Zavala 211, tel. 01/427-2844) and near San Isidro (28 de Julio 2195, La Victoria, tel. 01/225-2532) and heads primarily to Huancayo.
Soyuz (Carlos Zavala 217, tel. 01/266-1515, www.soyuz.com.pe) has good frequency on the south coast.
Companies whose travelers report frequent delays, breakdowns, or other problems include Tepsa and Civa.
Recommended international companies are Caracol, Ormeño, and El Rápido.
Caracol (Brasil 425, Jesus María, tel. 01/431-1400, www.perucaracol.com) receives the best reviews and covers the entire continent. It partners with Cruz del Sur so you can buy tickets from either company’s terminals. Among other places, Caracol travels to Santiago, Chile; Santa Cruz and La Paz, Bolivia; Asunción, Paraguay; Córdoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Ormeño (Javier Prado Este 1059, tel. 01/472-1710) no longer travels to Brazil but does go to Bogatá, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Guayaquil, Ecuador.
El Rápido (Rivera Navarrete 2650, Lince, tel. 01/425-1066) has cheaper fares to Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition