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Lima to Cusco and about

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Lima to Cusco and about

1. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 11y

Hi there,

I fly into Lima on May 6th, and unfortunately only have about 17 days to travel in Peru and possibly Bolivia if time permits. After spending a year of traveling at a casual pace, I've had to return home to a "real job" and the American notion of "vacation time". Pre-organizing travel not one of my strong points, I have a few quick questions for anybody who has passed through this way:

I've booked the Inca Trail for May 11th and don't have a huge desire to hang around Lima for too long. How long is the bus ride from Lima to Cusco? Any recommendations for stopping off for 1-2 days on the way?

I'd also like to check out Lake Titicaca (Puno?) after Cusco, so any recommendations on where to go or what to do would be much appreciated.

Lastly, due to time constraints, I was thinking of flying back to Lima. Any idea on how reliable this will be and can it be booked with only several days notice? Is La Paz still questionable?

I apologize for the lengthy questioning, but will appreciate any help that can be offered.

Happy Travels,


2. Posted by nadnerb (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y

Hi, John

I have not made this trip but am hoping to do something similar in month or so.

Lima to Cuzco is 21 hours on the bus at US$43. I hope I am not advertising but you can look at

I haven't worked out exactly where to go, stop, etc but I am thinking along these lines.

Lima to Nasca (or somewhere near) stop for 1 night to see the lines. Then on to Arequipa to stop for a few nights. Visit Colca Canyon. Then go onto Bolivia including La Paz (not sure if I have to go via Puno and Copacabana for this). Then to Copacabana (Bolivia) and stay for a couple of days to see the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca (including Isla del Sol and Isla del Luna) before going back into Peru to see their side of the Lake. Then Puno to Cuzco. Above may mean I have to go back over some of the same route and places which I would like to avoid however I am still looking into this.

Good luck


3. Posted by trancebuda (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y

we did it 3 years ago... best way to get there is via Arequipa, then Puno where you can take a boat ride on the highest lake in South America Lake Atitcaca and then head to Cusco... otherwise you'll be very nauseated on that long bus ride in the mountains... good luck


[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please ]

4. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Hi there...trancebuda said something very important there...if you take the bus ride through the mountains directly to Cuzco, you will be nauseous and possibly votiming by the time you get there, if not the whole way. I did the Inka Trail in May, you picked the perfect time by the way!! I would suggest you take a flight to about $130 RT, it is worth it. But if you are set on taking the bus, then definitely go through Ica, Arequipa and then through the mountain. The Colca Canyon is something you definitely dont want to miss...good luck!

5. Posted by nadnerb (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y

Is the journey from Arequepa to Puno reasonable and not too 'sickly'? I have been trying to look at bus sites and it seems the journey should be about 6 hours - however they don't say anything about the type of journey.

Is Ica worth stopping at or is it just somewhere you go through on the way to Arequipa?

6. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 11y

Thanks for all of your help. I agree, I think flying will be the way to go. But I do have a question on this as well if anybody has any insight. Would it be best to book the ticket in advance on the internet, or is it reasonable to book flights with short notice while you're down there? Are TACA and Lan the best/only carriers?

Also - any thoughts on whether to do a round-trip Lima-Cusco, or perhaps a one-way down and then a one-way back out of Arequipa or possibly La Paz.

Thanks in advance for any help that can be offered!

7. Posted by buttmunch (Inactive 77 posts) 11y

We flew from Lima to Cuzco and booked through a local agent when we where there. It was pretty easy and cost about £60. Sorry, I can't remember who we flew with.

On the way back we caught the local bus from Puno (nr Lake Titicaca) to Ica . If you get an overnight bus like we did remember to take a blanket or something - we woke in the night to find a thick layer of ice on the inside of the window!

8. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Quoting john7buck

Are TACA and Lan the best/only carriers?

Also - any thoughts on whether to do a round-trip Lima-Cusco, or perhaps a one-way down and then a one-way back out of Arequipa or possibly La Paz.

Thanks in advance for any help that can be offered!

TACA and Lan are not the only carriers but probably the most reliable ones. I would use any of the two without hesitation. Unless you are planning to go the Cuzco in June (for the Intiraymi celebrations), you should have no problem getting a flight when you are there. I did it while I was there, bought the ticket two days before departure.

I would do a one way though, that way you can do another leg do see another city instead of just returning to Lima. If I were you, I would take a Lima-Cuzco-La Paz...

9. Posted by JamesDB (Budding Member 15 posts) 11y

Hi John,

I just left Cusco, today actually. I would recommend the flight. If you're worried about time, definitely skip the bus. The flight for us was $69 one way on TACA. I think Lan was a tad more. Also, you can generally book a flight on the fly (no pun intended) in SA. The prices don't fluctuate the way they do in the States.

If you're doing the Inca Trail, which is awesome by the way, you'll need a few days for altitude adjustment. It took three for me. I pretty much had a migraine for three straight days. Again, since time isn't on your side, you can take medication, available at any of the pharmacies in Cusco. Cusco is around 11,000 feet. However, you will be hiking up to 14,000 on the second day of the hike. Aside from me, all of the hikers in our group felt it the after this.

Anyhow, La Paz, check on the political situation. I believe there are some problems with the president either threatening to resign or actually resigning. Since we had to skip Bolivia after all, I haven't been paying to much attention.

You can take a bus down to Titicaca, or nearby. I think it's seven hours. Don't quote me. However, you can hike to La Paz from there. I'm guessing that would take a few days.

Good luck. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

10. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 11y

Thanks James,

I appreciate all the info. The one thing I do have going for me is that I grew up and still live above 8,000 feet. I spend a lot of time at or above 12,000 either skiing or hiking, so hopefully it shouldn't take too much time to adjust. Appreciate the heads up at any rate.

Glad to hear you enjoyed the Inca Trail, I'm really looking forward it to it!

Safe travels.