Buses in South America (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina).

Four months in South America, many long distances buses. Here is a summary of practical information, nice anecdotes of buses in South America.

Bus en Amérique du Sud


The country is not very big, about half of France and distances are relatively short. Unless trafficked from north to south, it is rare for trips lasting more than 10 hours.

There is a multitude of bus companies, all united for most land terminal in each city. Compare prices and travel times and take the bus you like. It is not necessary to book tickets in advance. Just sometimes boarding a bus and pay once inside.

Buses have their “hand of man” screaming announcing the final destination. So you can easily get on a bus that passes in front of you. Some buses are one stop in a city and do not go to the ground terminal. To know which corner is “off”, ask to passersby or your hotel. The route you will take will often be known and therefore easy to identify.

Allow 1 dollar per hour ride. So easy to know how long will last the ride!
Comfort level, they are simple bus. Street vendors rise constantly to sell music CDs, food, ice cream, … Music is on continuously but the noise is not disturbing.

Finally, there is often a television in the bus. True, cathode, embedded in the partition behind the driver. I could even see “the untouchable” French movie dubbed in Spanish, haha!


Film intouchable dans un bus en Équateur

For the safety of luggage, it’s up to you, the bunkers are managed by the “hatchet man” of the bus. As the buses make many stops, the hold is often open to retrieve the bags, live chickens, all kinds of machinery. The person that places your luggage on the bus is the same person who makes you and remains at every stop near the bunkers.

Apart from a real flight from outside during a stop that would be weird … your luggage uncontrolled fear nothing. Just like anywhere, there are always risks, but we must not become paranoid. I never had any problems with theft or loss but I have also never taken night bus in Ecuador where robbery are supposedly more often.


There are also many independent bus companies in Peru, but the organization is totally different.

You have to book your ticket in advance. Some companies even refuse to sell you a ticket for today, even if the bus is not full! Rates depend on the companies, the path of the destination area (tourist or not) and the level of comfort.

Buses are two levels and VIP class is on the 2nd floor.

Management, registration to the development of the bus looks like a plane. You must arrive 30 minutes to 1 hour before departure according to the companies. Your luggage is to register at the counter for this purpose in the terminal. You are given a registration ticket luggage.

Before leaving, you are asked for your ID card or passport for verification. In the bus, we will register the faces of each passenger using a camera that passes through the aisles.

In the most luxurious bus, there is every comfort: electrical outlets, tablet, personal TV (for VIP bus), magazines, and even wifi! A floor by hostess is available and serves meals, snacks and drinks. The seats go to bed at 160 degrees, almost like a bed with pillow and blanket, this is heaven!



My longest journey of 21 hours between Lima and Cusco is passed so fast! I just slept, ate, watched two movies, written five articles and is mounting a video we had already arrived!



These are not necessarily the bus that should be discussed in Bolivia, but the roads they took.

Very dusty, so much so that you breathe in through the journey! We are not talking potholes, roads that turn into track at any time and which make the journey unbearable. Buses, worn, toss you in every way. Night travel can turn quite easily sleepless night or even with an accident.

At schedules as it is work. It is very rare that buses leave on time. Additionally, the driver stops a thousand times in the city of departure to fill the bus. You can easily get three hours after the scheduled time! When it comes to a night bus, it does not matter but for a day of bus to arrive before nightfall …


The size of ​​Argentina made bus trips real expeditions, as if you leave for the weekend except you sit for 24 hours to watch the desert landscape or sleeping! Although it is very beautiful, it is also very long and tiring.

Paysage en Argentine

To book it’s pretty easy, just for most cities to get to the bus terminal and compare prices from all companies. If you are in a big city, ask your hostel or the Tourist Office, there may be a central reservations office. It is also possible to book through the Internet via plataforma10.com site.

Prices are expensive! and there is really no tricks to bring down prices, except to hitchhike!

When you arrive at the bus terminal at the time of your checked baggage, it is possible that the driver or one that stores the bags asks you for money, in a way not always very pleasant … Know that to put your luggage in the hold is totally free and you do not need to pay. Nevertheless, you will find that the Argentine gave a two pesos when they give their bags and when they recover. This is a tip of your own choice. So do not let do if you requires you to give money.

It even happened to me that the guy does not want to give me my bag without money! And impossible to ride in the cargo hold at 1.20 height to recover my property. I then say that the money was just in my bag and bagless, no money … It made me my bag and I left giving him a big smile … without giving him anything. If he had not asked with a face seems to say  “you’re a tourist, I will rip you,” I would probably have tipped him with pleasure!

No worries, there’s also loads of fun moments when giving his luggage, when you do not manage to lift your bag and there are not that abuses! Argentines are still quite anxious to help, as in Peru and Ecuador.

Drivers and co-pilot who serves on the bus are generally even more than friendly. We had a server to go to Ushuaia that made us all along jokes, which made careful to put the subtitle for us, etc!

On the road, in Argentina, there are very many police controls. This is mostly paper checks which concern only the driver but sometimes, near the borders, the police controls for drug enforcement. Then you should take all his belongings, including his bag in the hold, get off the bus, go to the police hut for a thorough search. On 20h path, this can sometimes be boring …

Then each company in its own little details; or absent delicious meals, bingo game, etc.


And you, in South America, bus or no bus?


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