Peru is the ideal South American country for backpackers of all ages to travel around. The varying landscape from mountains to jungle, to sea, and sand (dunes!) ensures that there is something of interest for everyone. However, the public transport system is notoriously not excellent, and like many developing (and developed) countries, tourists are often the target of crime. The solution? Peru hop – the safe hop on/off bus for travellers in Peru. Here’s our (Gemma and Craig) Peru Hop review taking your from Lima to Cusco with scenic stops along the way.
Peru Hop – safe and fun travel in Peru
Why choose Peru Hop?
Craig and I (Gemma) can’t believe how quickly we have progressed through Peru without feeling rushed. After our fast-paced five-week trip through South East Asia in 2013 (Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand) we were adamant we would take our time. We do have 18 months worth of career break after all (annoying, I know!) The reason? Peru Hop’s well-organised itinerary which offers enough flexibility to avoid the feeling confined. Maybe the coca tea is partly to blame too.
Peru Hop is a hop on/off bus company (similar to those in Australia and New Zealand) which travels to/from ten stops along the Western coast of Peru from the capital, Lima then inland towards Cusco, where you acclimatise before your trek to Machu Picchu. Going to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World? Check out our guide to the Lares Trek, a less over-saturated alternative to the Inca Trail.
Peru Hop guides
Peru Hop is more than transportation. Each bus ride has a guide (a local who can speak Spanish and English) and depending on where you are going, the guide may be getting off with you (the bus that is). Big shout out to Carlos who we partied with in Huacachina! Is Peru Hop worth it? We think so for the local knowledge.
Salud from me (Gemma) & Craig – try the Peruvian pisco!
Peru Hop + hostels
Peru Hop is a hostel booking service. Not booked your hostel? No bother. Most guides (although confusingly, one went against the grain here, maybe because it was the Easter week or because Cusco is busier?) will call ahead and book you into their partner hostels at a discounted price.
For example, Kokopelli Backpackers in Paracas is 35 Peruvian soles 8-bed dorm normally but 30 Peruvian soles exclusively for Peru Hop customers. The company offers 20% off all dorms and 10% of private rooms.
Peru Hop attempts to suit everyone’s needs too by offering a ‘party’ hostel option for the Pisco loving Hopsters and a ‘quiet’ option for… us (although we loved Kokopelli in Cusco). Have your hostel booked already? No problem! We wanted to stay at Bananas in Huacachina but still met up with everyone that night and you can use the facilities at the Peru Hop partner hostels anyway.
Peru Hop tours
Peru Hop organises tours. We weren’t going to bother going to Paracas but Will (co-founder of Peru Hop) suggested we researched it online. I’m glad we did because we would have missed out on the cute penguins on Islas Ballestas! These tours are discounted, for example, this trip with Paracas Explorers is not even available on their website but $15 USD with Peru Hop. The tours are not mandatory; the company has attempted to make your life easier on the road but they are not forceful. We skipped the sand boarding tour and opted for a professional experience with Sandboarding Peru because we wanted to sand-ski too. Some stops have free Peru tours to break up the journey. We enjoyed the Pisco vineyard tour on the way to Arequipa.
Isla Ballestas, can’t believe we nearly missed this!
Peru tour routes
Peru Hop has developed a variety of tours to suit all time frames and budgets starting from $30 USD (Copacabana to Cusco, minimum 13 hours) to $199 USD ‘The Full South’ Lima to Cusco which includes Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa and Puno (minimum 6 days). The backpacker’s bus can start at Lima, La Paz in Bolivia or Copacabana on the border. Here’s an example of three Peru Hop itineraries.
Peru Hop bus facilities
Peru Hop is equipped for long distance journeys. The bus has a toilet which is only for ‘number ones’ though (the guides are very clear about this). The guide will democratically let Hopsters choose a film from their collection (Meet The Millers is genuinely funny, who would have thought it?) The overnight bus from Huacachina to Arequipa was as comfortable as sleeping on a bus gets. The guide gives you a blanket and the seats are semi-reclining. For long distance journeys, such as Arequipa to Cusco) the guide takes your food order and calls ahead to the stop point (such as a truck stop or restaurant) and puts in your order. This meal was around ten Peruvian soles each (food options – chicken, rice and veg, chifa, vegetarian omelette etc).
Friends for life
The bus is safe but most importantly you make friends! Hello to Jess, Liam and Ryan who we met on our first Peru Hop journey and partied with on our last (in Cusco!) Hester, gutted we missed you! I bought your sweatshirt by the way… Hola to B, Ben and Simon who we trailed from Huacachina to Arequipa then on to Cusco with. Us Two Scots (Gemma & Craig) are social creatures; we need a break from each other for our own sanity!
Can Peru Hop save you money?
Peru Hop is actually cost-effective. I was pricing the individual journeys we wanted to go with Cruz del Sur (the bus company mostly used by tourists and travellers in Peru) and Peru Hop popped up in the search engine. I was surprised to see the cost was similar for the full trip – The ‘Full South’ to Cusco from Lima ticket is $199 USD. I would have assumed that organised busses were expensive. You can do it for cheaper, Lima to Cusco without the lake is $179 USD and for those in a hurry (minimum 3 days), $159 USD. There are a variety of Peru tours packages. We went all the way then popped over to La Paz to kick off our Bolivia adventure.
We measure how cost-effective something is by not just taking money into account and also the time saved. Peru Hop has saved a massive amount of time (and arguments, the main reason we fought in Asia was through planning) in front of the screen working out journeys. Check out this post on South America bus travel for a comparison.
A soft warning- an honest Peru Hop review
The only warning – Peru Hop does not leave from every destination every day so you need to do a bit of forward thinking to ensure your itinerary is met but this is probably the case with other forms of transport too and they have factored in how long they would recommend spending in each place if you are taking a fast route through Peru without missing the hot spots. Oh and don’t forget to check out our Peru guide which details what not to miss, and all the other vital information required for your trip to Peru. If you fancy heading to Chile from Arequipa it can be done independently, check out this article on how to take the bus from Arequipa to San Pedro Atacama.
Peru Hop testimony
Don’t believe our glorious review (they are partnering with Peru Hop so obviously they are raving about it…)? Here is a testimony from Simon, our Hopster amigo, explaining why this service is one of the best Peru tours –
The pickup service makes travelling in Peru very easy. The guides made bus rides interesting with their explanations about local culture and Peruvian history. Every effort was made to ensure that arriving at your hostel was simple, no more stressing about finding a taxi and attempting to communicate an obscure address.
Included tours removed the hassle of trying to plan events ahead while remaining competitive in price.
Hopsters at the Red Beach
A serious round of applause to Will and Connor (travellers themselves) aka Peru Hop. The company is less than five years old, working effectively in a ‘foreign’ country (the boys are Irish) they’re doing a great job keeping the rest of us safe and connected. This is an honest review (as always) in exchange for two Hop passes. Well done lads and thanks for all of the advice. We look forward to our next trip with… Bolivia Hop!
Peru Hop Lima office address: Centro Comercial “Torre Larco” Office 206, Avenida Jose Larco 812, Miraflores, Peru
Contact: [email protected]
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