Arriving by Bus to Lake Titicaca

Route

Bus Company

Journey Time

Price

Cusco – Puno

(as part of Cusco-Lima open pass)

Peru Hop

8h

$179

Cusco – Puno

Cruz del Sur

7h

$10

Lima – Puno

Civa

22h

$42

Arequipa – Puno

Cruz del Sur

6.5h

$10

La Paz – Puno

(through Copacabana)

Bolivia Hop

7.5h

(+ border control)

$30

La Paz – Copacabana

Turisbus

4h

$19

Copacabana – Puno

Trans Titicaca

3h

(+ border control)

$9

The cheapest way to reach Lake Titicaca is by taking a bus. Regardless of your itinerary, you should be able to find an easy connection: there are direct buses between Puno and major tourist cities such as Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa. If you’re coming from Bolivia, you can get to Copacabana from La Paz.

Traveling by bus is the cheapest but also the most tiresome option. If you’re coming directly from Lima, get ready for 22 to 24 hours on the bus! The journey from Cusco or Arequipa is significantly shorter but can still be exhausting. Keep in mind also that the travel times listed by bus companies are on the more optimistic side. In reality, Peruvian and Bolivian buses are frequently delayed so bring extra snacks and drinks in case the journey takes longer than expected. Be especially prepared for delays when crossing the Peru-Bolivian border.

Comfort

So… How do you make these long (and possibly also delayed) journeys tolerable? For starters, make sure to book cama or semi-cama (reclinable or semi-reclinable) seats. They are more expensive than the standard seats but definitely worth the price on longer or overnight connections.

In addition to that, make sure to only travel with reputable transport companies. One of the top-rated bus companies in Peru is Peru Hop: they will pick you up from your hotel and then drop you off at the next hotel in your destination. They also speak English which makes things a lot easier and factor in some photo stops along the way.

But like all things tourist-friendly, Peru Hop is more expensive than local companies and their hop-on hop-off model forces you to buy an open ticket for several destinations at once which might not work with your itinerary. The Peruvian companies that are on the cheaper side but still of a decent quality include Cruz del Sur, Civa and Oltursa.

In Bolivia, the comfortable and tourist-friendly option is Bolivia Hop (yep, you guessed it, it’s the same company as Peru Hop). Luckily, here the passes are cheaper than with their Peruvian counterpart. You can get a La Paz – Copacabana – Puno – Cusco pass for $49 or the essential Lake Titicaca route of La Paz – Copacabana – Puno for $30. And you still get their signature hotel pick up and drop off!

Safety

Last but not least, how do you stay safe while traveling by bus? There are several things you should keep in mind if you want to cross Peru and Bolivia by road. Firstly, bus terminals and bus stops are a heaven to pick pocketers and thieves. No matter how rushed and confused you are, stay vigilant and keep your money and passport safe at all times. Remember also to take your most valued belongings with you when you leave the bus for a bathroom break. Don’t leave anything of value unattended.

Secondly, the bus journey in itself carries some risks. A common concern is drunk driving and unfortunately, that applies also to the bus drivers themselves. Don’t get on a bus with a driver who looks like they’re not fit for the job and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns if anything dodgy happens on the road. Also, you might want to schedule your trips during the day as drunk driving is much less common then than at night.

Road accidents are unfortunately common in both Peru and Bolivia so make sure to pick a reputable travel operator and keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious.