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Santiago to Lima - travel overland or fly?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Santiago to Lima - travel overland or fly?

1. Posted by gtraveller (Budding Member 8 posts) 4y

Hey,

I'm travelling South America for 3 months next year and would like some advice about the best way to travel from Santiago to Lima. I am aware that the bus journeys are long but I wouldn't mind that as long as there is something worth seeing on the way?? Otherwise I would be tempted to get an internal flight up to Lima.

Any opinions and suggestions welcome!

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5556 posts) 4y

Quoting gtraveller

Hey,

I'm travelling South America for 3 months next year and would like some advice about the best way to travel from Santiago to Lima. I am aware that the bus journeys are long but I wouldn't mind that as long as there is something worth seeing on the way?? Otherwise I would be tempted to get an internal flight up to Lima.

Any opinions and suggestions welcome!

You mean like just watching things go by in the bus, or actually making stops in cities and towns en route?
The landscape is not that spectactular but there surely are some great places to make a stopover, or take another short bus hop to for for example San Pedro.

3. Posted by gtraveller (Budding Member 8 posts) 4y

Thanks for your reply!

I meant places that would be worth stopping over in. I know it's a lengthy journey from Santiago to Lima so just wasn't sure if it was worth the long bus journeys..

Are there any other places you can suggest that would be worth seeing en route?

4. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5556 posts) 4y

I am not sure where the buses stop en route exactly and it also depends on whether you want to stay in the city or do sidetrips. But there are some nice daytrips from for example Arica in northern Chile towards Putre and the altiplano up to Lago Chunggara.
La Serena should be nice, though I haven't been there myself. There are quite a few national parks on the way, so I think you should check the guidebook and see which of those you like.
Not familiar with the Peruvian part of the route but heard good stories about Arequipa which is a good base for Colca Canyon.

5. Posted by born2roam (Budding Member 22 posts) 4y

Can I ask question---are there trains from the coast on that route that either go from Chile up to La Paz in Bolivia or in Peru up to or close to Lake Titicaca

6. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 4y


  1. 5: no, there aren't. South America has very few trains, and unlike Europe, most of them are a lot worse than busses.

7. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5556 posts) 4y

Quoting born2roam

Can I ask question---are there trains from the coast on that route that either go from Chile up to La Paz in Bolivia or in Peru up to or close to Lake Titicaca

In general, like Bentivogli pointed out, no. There are a few connections which I am not even sure of if they are still running. In that region it is either the expensive train that runs between Puno and Cuzco. It is luxurious and usually chartered for a group. Not recommended because of that in my opinion.
The other options is a train which is supposedly to travel once a week between either Iquique or Antofagasta (think it is the latter one) and Bolivia (Uyuni I think). But it's a goods-train and although travellers can actually go on it (read some experiences about it, just google), it takes like 24 hours (officially) and there is no heating (gets cold up on the Altiplano).

The only regular one in the region is the train between the border of Argentina/Bolivia, north towards Oruro. It runs 3 times a week or so, and is actually comfortable and cheap, though slow! I loved it!

8. Posted by born2roam (Budding Member 22 posts) 4y

thanks folks that has solved my querie

9. Posted by bugbitten (Budding Member 25 posts) 4y

I took 3 months to go from Lima to Santiago... via Bolivia and still that wasnt enough...South America is an amazing continent..! Enjoy!