While we were staying in Cusco I, as usual, picked up a bunch of leaflets for different activities and companies from our hotel reception. Leafing through them I came across one for a company called Peru Hop, which boasted of a “safe, flexible, and fun” hop on hop off bus system around southern Peru. At that point AJ and I had already booked a bus to Puno, and were looking at travelling from there up to Lima, so we decided to look into this company and what route we could take with them.
Peru Hop runs a route from Lima à Cusco (and vice versa) with an option of continuing into Bolivia with Bolivia Hop from Puno and offer a variety of start and end points, which you can easily arrange online. The tickets do seem expensive at first glance ($189 pp for the full Lima –> Cusco trip) however;
(a) they last a year, so you can spend as much time as you want in each city
(b) Peru Hop will pick up directly from most hostels (they don’t go to hostels outside of the city centre, and they only go to hostels in Miraflores/Barranco in Lima because the streets of central Lima are too narrow),
(c) there are free tours included, and
(d) you get discounts on the paid tours and hostels they are associated with.
For myself and AJ, we were on a tight time schedule, and the idea of one bus ticket covering the entire journey, plus less hassle when booking accommodation, was incredibly appealing so we booked our tickets for the route: Puno –> Arequipa –> Nazca –> Huacachina –> Paracas –> Lima. Peru Hop advised that the minimum time needed for this route was 7 days, which was exactly the time we had.
Here are the main points I would highlight about our experience for those of you considering this method of transport but are unsure or need more information.
The online system is really easy to use.
When using Peru Hop, the online system is your best friend and necessary tool. When you buy your ticket you will be emailed a confirmation of purchase with a personal reservation ID and an attached document outlining your starting pickup point, a recommended itinerary based on your ticket purchase, and your payment information. Using your reservation ID you can log into their online system where you can make changes to your itinerary and add hostels you’re staying in if you’ve booked them in advance.
NOTE: if there’s a group of you travelling together, each of you will have your own reservation ID, so you will each need to log in to your area on the Peru Hop website to make changes
Accommodation and activity booking is taken care of en route.
One of the big selling points of Peru Hop is how much stress is taken away from you, especially when trying to sort out accommodation. Rather than having to trawl through endless articles and TripAdvisor reviews to find a place to stay and then having to book it, you can check out what hostels Peru Hop is associated with and, when on the bus, tell the guide where you’d like to stay. It will be booked for you and you will be dropped off and then collected from the hostel when you’re ready to move on.
The same goes for the activities. When you’re on the bus you will be automatically put down for the free activities, but you can also book yourself on to any other the other paid tours on offer, the only exception being the Colca Canyon Tour in Arequipa, which you must arrange beforehand. The tours on offer are:
Nazca: Nazca lines viewing platform (free), fly over the lines (80 PEN pp)
Huacachina: pisco vineyard tour (free), and dunebuggy and sandboarding (50 PEN pp)
Paracas: national reserve tour (free), and Ballastas Islands tour (50 PEN pp)
Between Paracas –> Lima: Chincha slave tunnel tour (free)
My favourite activities were the dunebuggy and sandboarding in Huacachino, and the Chincha slave tunnel tour; one being enormous fun, and the other being incredibly interesting. My least favourite was the Paracas National Reserve Tour, mainly because I feel so much more could be done. The reserve is huge, but all you get to see is one part of the coastline and then a museum about the area (which to be honest is pretty interesting, but you need to rush through it a little to get back to the bus on time).
NOTE: when you’re booking your bus dates, look carefully at the daily breakdown of tours that you’ll be given on the bus, and which you can get online – there are days when there are no tours running, so if you want to see everything, make sure you’re travelling on the right days.
When you get into cities in the evenings the guide will also let you know of where you can get dinner as a group, which is a great way to get to know other people you’re travelling with, as well as your bus guide.
The bus guides are brilliant!
Depending on how long you’re travelling with Peru Hop, you may end up travelling with a few different guides, or just one. Because AJ and I were doing the route in the minimum amount of time, we ended up travelling with one guide, Natalia, who was really nice. The guides are all Peruvians, who are passionate about sharing their country with travellers that pass through. They are all really friendly, professional, and knowledgeable about where they take you, whether it’s about the history of a place, where’s good to eat or even just Peruvian culture in general.
The journey can be rough, but the buses make it easier.
Some of the buses leave late and travel through the night. Some of the buses leave REALLY early (5.30am), and because of the distances between places, there will be journeys when you are on the bus for the majority of the day (Arequipa –> Nazca –> Huacachina especially if you’re not staying in Nazca). This can feel rough, but luckily the buses are very comfortable. The seats recline, you get a nice blanket/duvet to cover up, the air conditioning is great, there’s always a film playing, and sometimes you get snacks. It makes the unavoidable travel that much easier to bear.
To sum it up, Peru Hop makes travelling around southern Peru safe, stress-free, flexible, and fun; exactly what they promise. They are great value for money and if you want to be able to see as many different places as possible, with the least amount of admin possible, this is just the ticket for you.
If you want to read about AJ and I’s PeruHop adventures in more detail you can do so here!