Budget Travel: Lima to Cusco via PeruHop
Updated: Mar 16
updated March 2023 The goal for the overwhelming majority of travellers to Peru is to visit the ancient site of Machu Picchu. The average length of tourist visits in Peru is only eight days, so most travellers will fly into the capital city of Lima and then take a short flight over the Andes straight into Cusco. From there, many will travel to Aguas Caliente (the little town at the base of Machu Picchu). Hikers will make their way to Ollantaytambo to begin their trek into the site. My plan was to spend 5 weeks in Peru, so I wasn't in a rush and I wanted to see some of the other sites. My research had made me aware of the diversity of the country. During my research, I discovered a bus company called Peru Hop. For $219 USD (2023 price), I could get a flexible pass that would take me on their "Full South" tour along the coast and then wind back north through the Andes to Cusco. The slow journey gradually climbs in elevation and allows more time to comfortably adjust to the increasing elevation. The route is also available in reverse, but I chose to fly back to Lima after my time in the Sacred Valley.
Peru Hop uses local Peruvian guides on comfortable, climate-controlled coaches and follows a flexible hop-on, hop-off city system. The company provides many written guides to help travellers make the most of their journey. The route makes interesting stops at local sites and businesses as it winds its way to Cusco. The traveller can decide how quickly (minimum 3 days) or slowly (up to a year) the journey will take, with choices in recommended activities, restaurants, and accommodations. PeruHop works for those who want to pre-book and plan everything in advance to a specified schedule, but it also works for people who travel spontaneously. I predetermined my schedule and chose to pre-book my own lodgings at each of the stops, although reports from other travellers about the recommended hotels and hostels were very positive. I did book several excursions, for discounted rates, on the bus through Peru Hop. Bookings organized through the company were paid in cash on the bus in either local currency or US dollars.