What is Peru Hop?
Basically, you choose a route from their listed options, and then they will fill you in on the rest (including timetables, stop locations, food, accommodations, tours, etc).
What Is Hop-On/Off?
A hop-on/off bus system is one where you can get off at any of the scheduled stops along your chosen route. Then, you can stay at that stop as long as you want and “hop” onto another company bus that is continuing along the same route. With these increasingly popular systems all you have to do is find out what day and time a bus is scheduled to come through and be at the specified location to be picked back up.
What Routes Are Available for Peru Hop?
Here are the six routes available for a Peru-only departure from Lima:
Do note that for each route there is a minimum number of days of availability you need to have at your disposal to be able to complete that route. This does not include the days you would like to spend in each stop.
Our Thoughts and Experience With Peru Hop (Guides, Food, Comfort, Ease, & More)
First off, I (Ben) lived in Peru for two years many moons ago. I had already been to some of the stops that Peru Hop offers in their routes, but this was Lauren’s first time to Peru and so, obviously, she hadn’t been anywhere yet. So, it was important for us to have an itinerary where we’re seeing a relatively large amount of places within the time we had. I wanted to visit some Peruvian friends in areas I had lived in before, which included Lima and Ica (La Huacachina). However, Machu Picchu is a must-see if you’re going to be in Peru, so that was also part of the list.
From my previous experience I knew that a bus would be a viable option for traveling from Lima to Ica and then to Cusco. However, I also didn’t want to deal with having to book multiple buses along the way and worrying about our luggage and finding our way to the bus stations the whole time. Enter Peru Hop. From my point of view, Peru Hop takes out a huge majority of the hassle of doing a bus trip from Lima to Cusco. You book your route and that’s basically the end of booking things unless you’re also using Peru Hop to find your accommodations and/or activities along the way. Also, your itinerary can mostly be as flexible as you want because you can stay as many days as you want at any of the scheduled stops and then just get onto a scheduled bus whenever you’d like to continue your route. Very simple.
The guides are all at least bi-lingual. Meaning, they will most likely be fluent in Spanish and then have fairly good English. The fluency of English just depends on which guide you get on the bus you’re on, but from the 3-4+ guides we saw, they all had passable English. Also, they all seemed to be doing the best they could. I’m sure it can be hard trying to be fun and make jokes for people that just rode 10 hours on a bus. Yet, try they do.
There will be some food stops along the way. You cannot choose where the buses will stop as it has all already been planned and coordinated. For example, on the overnight bus from La Huacachina to Arequipa we stopped in the town of Nazca and had dinner at a nicer looking restaurant. Meals were 20 soles a head and the food was quite good. That amount of soles is about 2-4x the amount you would normally pay if you were just eating the menu del dia from any number of places all over Peru, but I understand why Peru Hop chooses the places they do. A lot of people aren’t used to Peruvian standards when it comes to food and cooking, and a lot of food, if not prepared properly, can be quite dangerous for foreigners. We don’t have any dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, etc.), but it seemed like there should have been options enough for most people. Most of the time the guides will tell everyone on the bus ahead of time what the meal options will be and then get a head count for each option to let the restaurant know beforehand.
Not every bus will be a big, red bus that has “Peru Hop” plastered all over it. At least, that wasn’t our experience. We saw at least 3-4 different colored and labeled buses, but at least all of the seats on each bus had the “Peru Hop” or “Bolivia Hop” seat covers on them. It’s really not a big deal, but some people might be slightly alarmed when the first Peru Hop bus they’re boarding doesn’t say “Peru Hop” on the side of it. If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in Peru then you should be aware that it’s not the most organized of places, but things still seem to work just fine for the most part.
All of the buses we rode on had reclining seats. Don’t expect lie-flat seats because, well, is that even a thing on a bus? I mean, this is a bus ticket you paid $200 or less for, after all. Anyway, I think everything was as comfortable as it could get on a bus. Also, take into consideration that driving in Peru is absolutely crazy, which includes buses as well. Expect to see some ridiculous maneuvers and be on some bumpy and winding roads.
I already mentioned it above, but the ease of the journey is the real winner with Peru Hop. Not having to stress about booking things is really great, especially when you don’t have much of an itinerary to begin with. Peru Hop can pick you up from a lot of places in Lima to begin your journey and then along the way you can also be dropped off at a lot of places in each city (unless it’s in tiny places like La Huacachina or Paracas). Normally, there is a designated pick-up location for whenever you want to leave that town/city, but it’s always really easy to find. Your guide can tell you or the informative packet you’re given at the beginning of your tour will give you all the information you need. Also, it’s important to know that you will have a Peru Hop login (once you’ve made your reservation and have received confirmation) that you can use to update what days you’ll be continuing your journey and where you would like to be picked up (there will be drop-down menus that show all the locations).
Getting to Lima from the Airport (Using Airport Express Lima)
Peru Hop works with a company called “Airport Express Lima” to help the recently arrived and soon-to-be departed get between downtown Lima (Miraflores) and Jorge Chavez International Airport (in Callao). It’s really a great service and very easy to use. Also, prices aren’t bad at all.
Here are their stops in Miraflores:
The buses leave the airport on the top of every hour from 7:00 AM - 12:00 AM. The buses depart Miraflores on the top of every hour from 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM. The buses have reclining seats, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning. Also, the guide on each bus will make sure to help you with your luggage and let you know when your stop is coming up. You can book online beforehand (recommended in case you have questions) or at their booth when you arrive at the airport.
We used Airport Lima Express when we arrived in Lima from the USA, when we arrived in Lima from Cusco, and when we departed Lima to go back to the USA. Returning to the airport from the Larcomar stop in Miraflores was the segment we were most worried about because the bus would be coming through traffic and we’d be in the middle of the city. We were scheduled for 7:00 PM pick-up and the bus showed up at 7:05 PM, which was great!
Rainbow Mountain Travels Tour
This is another company that Peru Hop works with and, of course, they do tours to the famous Rainbow Mountain. We had a tour booked with them the day after we arrived in Cusco (so we could acclimatize a bit to the altitude), but, unfortunately, Lauren fell ill the first day and wasn’t recovered enough the second day to attempt the travel and hike. Also, we wanted to be more ready to do Machu Picchu and didn’t want to chance a relapse into sickness.
However, everything in our communication went well with the Rainbow Mountain Travels team and I think it would be a great experience in the future. Definitely wished we could have had the experience, but also not upset because we knew altitude sickness might be an issue. Try to get to Cusco with a lot of time to spare so you can be sure it won’t be an issue if you’re going to try out a Rainbow Mountain tour.
We were able to experience a lot of cool things and see lots of amazing places along our Full South to Cusco route with Peru Hop and I don’t think we regret it one bit.
There were a few things like Lauren forgetting her water bottle on a bus and then us never getting it back (I really doubt anyone at Peru Hop tried to get in contact with the driver). Or, having a pick-up location forced on us by our guide in Arequipa even though there were many other locations that were closer to where we were staying. Honestly, a bit of laziness all around.
Other than little things like that, which you’ll find anywhere, we had a pleasant time with Peru Hop.