Transportation in Peru is fairly complicated, due mostly to the country’s natural borders. Peru is also a large country, and thus navigating it by land can be a very time consuming affair if you wish to explore its different regions. The most practical means of transportation in Peru is flying, especially if you want to see a bunch of different places. Travel by land can be a whole lot cheaper, but generally it is relatively uncomfortable. If you can’t afford to fly to all your major base cities in Peru, you can perhaps mix trips on a Peru bus with a couple flights here and there. Doing so will likely improve your overall vacation, leaving more time for fun things to do. If you have booked one of the full Peru tours that handles all the details, then it is more than likely that all your transportation in Peru will already be arranged, leaving you far less possible headaches.
Most flights within Peru cost somewhere between $70-$120, with fluctuations depending on season. There are about 5 primary domestic airlines that offer flights in Peru, with others coming and going. If you are flying in Peru, it’s a good idea to confirm your reservations more than once, and you should arrive at the airport no less than an hour before your flight. Flying can be the only way to get to some destinations in Peru, such as the Amazon Jungle city of Iquitos. That is unless you want to stomach the less than romantic boat ride. For some, that might just be ideal. It’s all about preference when it comes to transportation. Cities with airports that have some of the country’s main attractions nearby include Arequipa, Lima, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, but by no means are you limited to getting to just these destinations by air.
The most utilized means of transportation for travel in Peru is the Peru bus. Buses are a very affordable way to get around the country, and for trips from cities to small towns, they can be the only way to go. For example, if you want to travel from Trujillo to the beach town of Huanchaco, generally the bus will be your main way of getting there. Long bus rides in Peru can be relatively uncomfortable, but the quality of the buses tends to vary, so sometimes you just luck out. Frequent bus travel exists between all the main routes, and you can find some upscale buses running some of the longer distance routes. It is generally recommended to avoid bus travel at night, as this tends to be when more assaults occur. Take care with your luggage, as baggage theft can be a possible issue, and understand that there is certain risk in riding a Peru bus. Local buses tend to be crowded, and are usually very cheap. Some short bus routes are covered by colectivos, which are a mix between a Peru bus and a shuttle van.
For the more daring out there, Peru rental cars can be a way to get around, though it is generally recommended that most visitors stay away from the idea. First off, Peru rental cars are not very economical, especially if you want a 4 X 4. As most flights arrive in Lima, if you rent a car here, it will take you a while to get to most of the major Peru attractions, and the endeavor is a rather hazardous one overall. Drivers in Peru can be rather aggressive and car accidents are pretty frequent. Since the U.S. State Department warns against travel by way of Peru rental cars, you can generally take that to mean that taking a taxi, bus or plane is a much better idea in the long run. Plus, renting a taxi for even long distance voyages can cost less than what you would pay for Peru rental cars.
Peru trains are not easy to come by for most routes, but in southern Peru, there are some very popular train routes that offer scenic travel in and around the Cusco department and nearby regions. PeruRail, which is a private company that operates the Peru trains, has daily services that operate four main routes. The scenic Cusco to Machu Picchu train is the most popular of all Peru trains, with stops at the Sacred Valley towns of Urubamba and Ollantaytambo on the way. Another popular train in Peru runs from Cusco to Puno, which rests on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This is also a very scenic route through the Andes Mountains, though it is somewhat slow. Finally, you might consider the Ferrocarril Central Andino, which runs from Lima to Huancayo. At its highest, this route reaches some 15,843 feet, making it the highest passenger line in the world. This trip is somewhat hard to book, but worth it.