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Buses in west South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Buses in west South America

1. Posted by andrea.574 (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!


I'm currently planning a trip to South America for August 2010 but I'm finding it hard to evaluate the safety, reliability and cost-efficiency of buses in west South America. After arriving in Quito (Ecuador), I'm looking at travelling down to Lima, then Cuzco and La Paz. I'm pretty confident that busing it from Lima to La paz will be fine with a few stopovers. But I'm concernd about the Quito-Lima route. Has anyone taken this route by bus before? What are the stopovers worth stopping at? Are the buses in this region reliable, or are the roads dangerous and is it probable the trip will take many more hours than predicted? If I have to take many stopovers because of the length of the trip and will hence be stopping at many other cities and towns along the way, would it still be much cheaper than simply catching a plane from Quito to Lima? How safe are the buses themselves in this region, considering I'm an 18 y/o female travelling with one male companion? I'm looking at taking as many stopovers as needed to keep the longest bus ride at about 15 hours.

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!
  • There is a direct bus Quito-Lima
  • You save a lot of money by taking a bus to Huaquillas (border with Peru), use local transport to Tumbes and continue your journey there. Be careful: Huaquillas is known for its pickpockets. Be very wary of anyone approaching you, and only take official taxi cabs. Best cross with a group; there's usually many gringos on the busses to Huaquillas
  • The quickest route runs via Guayaquil and the Panamericana coastal highway: 24 hours approx. Fairly boring route, and Guayaquil is not a recommendable destination: dirty and unsafe in some spots. If you have time, it's much more worthwhile to take the Andean route via Cuenca, cross into Peru at MacarĂ /Suyo and continue via Chiclayo. From there, you can either take the Panamericana or continue through the Andes. All unbelievably beautiful. Mind you, this would take considerably longer
  • The roads themselves are generally safe. The border should be your main concern, as should any bus terminal in any larger city in South America. Then again, nothing worse is likely happen than having your purse snatched
  • Delays are common, but the condition of the Panamericana is generally good. Alternatives should only be pursued if you can afford to loose a few days waiting for a bad connection, being stuck in the mud, etc
  • Planes are bad. One should not use them
  • Don't worry about your personal safety: you'll be fine as long as you don't do anything blatantly stupid. But really, if this is a concern for you or your parents, I'd recommend looking for another travel destination (outside SA)
3. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I quite disagree on two pints.

1-I found Guayaquil to be a fascinating fun destination, people are friendly and welcoming, food is cheap/very tasty and accommodation/entertainment options abound for all budgets.

2-Flying domestic airlines in South America isn't expensive and planes aren't in any way dangerous-routes abound and flying saves a lot of boredom.

4. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I didn't say flying was dangerous: it's just bad, for obvious reasons that I have pointed out ad nauseam in this forum :)