How to get from Lima to Cusco

Peru Rail

Lima to Cusco is one of the world’s most heavily traveled routes both in air and through ground transportation. Since Lima is one of the major gateways into South America, especially the country’s entrance point to get to Machu Picchu, its infrastructure is solid.

Lima is a coastal city on the Pacific Ocean. Cusco, formally the capital of the Inca’s ancient civilization, is in the Andes Mountains, just south east of Lima.

The most efficient and quickest way to get to Cusco is by flight. It tends to be a more expensive proposition in comparison to ground travel, but for those on a tight schedule, it’s really the only option.

There are several daily and direct flights from Lima’s Jorge Chavez International to Cusco’s Velasco Astete International Airport. Flight time is an hour. Best to schedule a morning flight out, because afternoon’s can prove challenging to pilots navigating the Andes temperamental weather patterns.

The other option is to travel the long distance by bus. There are several tour bus companies to chose from, and this option can afford travelers a more in-depth experience of the country from fantastic views of farm lands once outside of Lima, photo ops at rest stops, and points of interests travelers would miss by the flying option.

There are two routes to chose from. One is to leave Lima through the town of Arequipa into the Andes, which is considered a slower and safer routing to get to Cusco. The other is for those who aren’t plagued by bus-sickness on windy roads. The path cuts directly across the Andes, complete with switchbacks and rough roads.

All in all, the faster route can shave off a couple of hours off the slower 26-hour (longer) routing.

Make sure that the company you are dealing with is reputable. Companies such as Tepsa Bus Tours (shorter routing), PeruHOP (longer routing) and Cruz del Sur (shorter routing) are most preferable among travelers.

A little more convoluted routing is by utilizing a bus tour company with a train ride, which includes stops at Arequipa, Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Here’s a sample itinerary:

Tour bus from Lima to Arequipa.

Connect to another bus to Puno/Lake Titicaca.

Once there, book the $55.00 train ticket on PeruRail (train) from Puno– a nine hour sojourn to Cusco, which is worth it for adventurers who can fit a train jaunt into their schedule.

Note: The quicker routing tour buses tend to be hijacked and passengers robbed more than the longer routing ones. Leave valuables at home, and be aware that this could be a possibility when choosing a shorter routing option. PeruHOP takes extra precautions by scheduling longer routing to avoid these incidents.