Cusco Getting There & Away

 

Cusco to Machu Picchu

Detailed information about getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu is covered elsewhere in this website. Just follow the links below to the relevant pages

Cusco to Machu Picchu by Train

Trekking to Machu Picchu

Cusco to Lima

Flying between Cusco and Lima takes about one hour and is by far the easiest way to travel. Basically the high mountainous Andes lie directly between these two cities so you either fly over them or take a long winding detour around them. The bus route is usually southwards towards Lake Titicaca then westwards towards Arequipa. You then follow the Pan-American highway northwards via Nasca and Pisco to Lima. This is a good option if you have plenty of days to break up the journey by possibly visiting the Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Nasca and the Ballestas Islands on the way to Lima. If you don't have long in Peru and you don't want to spend a day and two nights on a bus then take a flight. There is a more recent road connecting these two cities that goes westwards from Cusco to Abancay and Nasca and then north to Lima. This route is particularly scenic and mountainous and remains in the category of 'adventure travel'.

Flights Cusco to Lima (1 hour 15 mins)

There are more than 30 daily flights between Cusco and Lima. Most flights depart in the mornings because the weather is usually better and the pilot needs to see where he is going as he navigates a few tricky mountains after taking off from Cusco. The views out of the right hand windows are particularly good of snow-capped Salkantay about 10 minutes after take-off but you can't always decide which seat you get allocated. The flight time is about 1 hour 15 minutes. If you really can't afford to miss you flight then we suggest taking one of the early flights before 09:30 since later flights often get delayed or cancelled particularly during the wet season in the highlands (January to March). Airline companies operating this route include LATAM www.latam.com, Avianca www.avianca.com, Peruvian Airlines www.peruvian.pe, StarPeru www.starperu.com and LCPeru www.lcperu.pe (for more details see our web page Domestic Flights)

Bus Cusco to Lima (20 hours via Abancay or 24 hours via Arequipa)

There are two routes from Cusco to Lima. The quickest and more direct route is west to Nazca via Abancay and then north up along the Pacific coast to Lima (1500 kms and takes about 20 hours) This is the most popular route during the dry season when the roads are good (May-Sept). Outside the dry season the roads can become impassable die to heavy rains and landslides with frequent long delays. It's best to avoid the route altogether from December to March. However when the weather is good this is a stunning ride with magnificent scenery but the road has many sharp and dangerous curves so it could really be classed as an adventure activity and not for the faint hearted.

The altrenative, and longer route, that many bus companies offer goes to Arequipa first (1015 km and another 15 hrs) where you will have to take a connecting bus on to Cusco (500 km & 10 hrs). There may be very long periods between these connecting buses and you will probably have to change bus so even if the connection is fairly quick the entire trip can take around 24 hours. Quite often you will find that the bus from Lima to Arequipa travels overnight (to avoid the high temperatures during the day) arriving early in the morning. The onwards bus to Cusco may also depart in the evening and arrive early in the morning in Cusco, allowing you to spend all day visiting Arequipa. You can store your bags at the bus station in Arequipa but always take your valuables with you. Bus companies operating this route include Cruz de Sur www.cruzdelsur.com and OrmeƱo www.grupo-ormeno.com

Bus companies worth checking out (listed in the order that I would choose):

Cusco to Puno

Puno is 388km from Cusco. You can travel by bus, train or plane. If travelling overland remember to take plenty of warm clothes with you especially if travelling at night since it can get very cold.

Flights Cusco to Puno (45 mins)

There are two direct flight per day from Cusco (CUZ) to Juliaca (JUL) (about 20 km from Puno) and that's with LATAM Airlines www.latam.com. Departures are in the morning when the weather is usually better. The flight time is about 45 minutes. If you are desperate to fly then you can get flights to Juliaca via Lima but the flight time is more than 4 hours.

Bus Cusco to Puno (7 hours)

(i) Local tourist bus
There are many daily buses leaving for Puno. The journey takes about 7 hours (longer in the wet season). Price are about US$10 depending on the service. Some companies depart in the morning and arrive in Puno late in the afternoon while others depart in the evening and arrive in Puno early in the morning. If you find yourself in Puno as early at 04:00 or 05:00 you can ask the driver to stay on the bus and get some rest until a more reasonable hour (07:00). Buses depart from the main bus station known as the 'Terminal Terreste' which is a 10 minute taxi ride from the main plaza. Don't try to walk from your hotel. Our best advice is to take a taxi down to the bus station the day before you want to travel and book your ticket. This will also give you the opportunity to check out the buses and the various services on offer.

Bus companies include:

Imexso
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from around US$20 standard service
Website: www.perucuzco.com/imexsotours/

Turismo Mer
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from around US$20 standard service
Website: www.turismomer.com

Tour Peru
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from around US$20 standard service
Website: www.tourperu.com.pe

Cruz del Sur
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from around US$20 standard service
Website: www.cruzdelsur.com

(ii) Special tourist bus
As well as the regular local buses between Cusco and Puno there are also a couple of companies that offer a better quality package service. These services usually include a guide on the bus and the bus stops at several places of interest on the way and often include a buffet lunch - check each bus company for details. Tickets for most of the services below can be bought through most travel agents in Cusco one or two days in advance. Make sure you get a written receipt that lists the price you paid and all services included.

Inca Express
Tickets from US$65: US$50 (tourist bus & buffet lunch) + US$15 entrance fees to places of interest along the way.
www.inkaexpressbus.com

Imexso
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from US$ (tourist bus)
www.perucuzco.com/imexsotours/

Turismo Mer
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from US$60: US$45 (tourist bus & buffet lunch) + US$15 entrance fees to places of interest along the way.
www.turismomer.com

Tour Peru
offices at the Cusco bus station. Tickets from US$? (tourist bus)
www.tourperu.com.pe

Cusco to Puno by Train

Trains for Arequipa depart from Wanchac station at the end of Avenida Sol (open Mon-Fri 07:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 17:00, Sat 07:00 - 12:00, Sun 08:00 - 10:00). Reservations should be made well in advance. For up-to-date timetables and prices visit the PeruRail web site www.perurail.com

Cusco to Arequipa

Arequipa is 500 km by road from Cusco. You can travel by bus or plane. If travelling overland remember to take plenty of warm clothes with you especially if travelling at night since it can get very cold particularly during the month June, July and August.

Flights Cusco to Arequipa (45 mins for a direct flight)

There are a couple of daily flights from Cusco to Arequipa. Departures are in the morning when the weather is usually better (Pilots need good visibility to take off in Cusco). The flight time is about 45 minutes. Airline companies operating this route include LATAM www.latam.com (for more details see our web page Domestic Flights)

Bus Cusco to Arequipa (from 10 hours)

There are many daily buses leaving for Arequipa. The fastest bus service takes about 10 hours (longer in the wet season). Some companies depart in the morning and arrive in Arequipa early in the evening while others depart in the evening and arrive in Arequipa early in the morning. Buses depart from the main bus station known as the 'Terminal Terreste' which is a 10 minute taxi ride from the main plaza. Don't try to walk. Our best advice is to take a taxi down to the bus station the day before you want to travel and book your ticket. This will also give you the opportunity to check out the buses and the various services on offer.

Bus companies worth checking out (listed in the order that I would choose):

Cusco to Arequipa by Train

The train no longer runs between Cusco and Arequipa (2005) except for freight and some special charter services.

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