92 Days Remaining…The South American Bus Experience

92 days… GASP

Venezuelan bus ride to Maracoy

As you are sat reading this post I should be travelling from Arequipa in Peru to Puno, the city next to Lake Titicaca. As I will be on a South American bus for five hours (this feels like NOTHING after doing a 20 hour journey) I thought I would post a blog about South American buses.

After all they are quite legendary and the experience of travelling on them throughout Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and now Peru has been CRAZY.

South American Bus Travel

  • Noisy
  • Smelly
  • Dirty
  • Very, very, VERY loud music which has no tune
  • Pushing and shoving
  • Standing room only
  • Animals on board (so far chickens and baby llamas feature a lot)
  • Really violet films, lots of blood, guts and death. Often these are films starring Jason Statham
  • No English films or no English subtitles
  • Sellers on board, sellers everywhere, sellers shouting down the aisle, sellers telling a long story to try and gain your interest
  • Sellers putting stuff on your lap when you don’t even want to buy it
  • Rap stars… they come on board rap, sing, dance, pose and then they ask you for money for witnessing their amazing performance…shocking (this was a common bus event in Ecuador)
  • Stop, start, stop, start, stop
  • Really slow overtaking
  • Overnight (always in Peru, every bus is over night)
  • Fast
  • Delays
  • Bus shrines next to the driver (common in Venezuela)
  • Hot
  • Broken windows that don’t open
  • Flat tires (because you’re overloading the bus you fools)
  • Feels like the brakes may fail at any moment
  • Lots of passengers squashed in with the driver
  • People get on before people can get off
  • Bumpy
  • Mountainous
  • Lots of cliff edges
  • No main city terminal (in Peru) each company has there only terminal dotted all over the city, really confusing
  • No toilet (a nightmare for that long journey)
Colombia – On the high mountain road to Manizales

Overall I think the funniest bus memory for me was experiencing the wannabe rap stars in Ecuador. If you’ve ever watched The Wire they dressed just like a proper corner gangsta, with tights on their heads and everything. Then they balanced their ghetto blasters on their shoulder, played a tune and rapped in Spanish. They pretty much always wore sunglasses and maybe had a toothpick hanging out the of the corner of their mouths. Hilarious!
Colombia – Santa Marta Bus Terminal…..Just your typical bus terminal sign… no guns allowed inside!
Also I saw a baby alpaca wee on a foreign tourist on a bus. There were two local Peruvians in the tourist’s seat. When the tourist got on with their ticket, the locals got out of the seat. But because the bus was full they had nowhere to put their baby alpaca, so they put it on the tourists lap……..and it did a wee! SO BAD!
Peru – This was NOT your standard South American bus!
However things can get better for the Peruvian traveller….most of the time. In Peru there are VIP buses which are a major step up from the terrible South American bus experience. If you go on one of the VIP buses (the company Cruz Del Sur is excellent), this is what you can expect…
  • Comfort
  • Large seat
  • Nearly fully reclining seats (excellent for a night journey)
  • A pillow
  • A blanket
  • No loud music (the only way you can hear the music is if you plug your headphones into the seat socket)
  • Hot and cold food (served like you are on a plane by a bus steward)
  • Hot and cold drinks
  • Peace
  • Quiet
  • Calm
  • No unscheduled stops
  • Films in English or with English subtitles
  • A toilet (excellent for long that journey)
This is all good until I remember I’m on my way to Bolivia where the buses are going to revert back to Venezuelan type ones. Booohooo.
I must forget about the Peruvian VIP bus experience.


Adios, catch you for day 91 tomorrow.

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