Are you wondering if Peru Hop is the right way to see Peru? Read on for our in-depth review.
What Is Peru Hop?
Peru Hop is an increasingly popular tour company in Peru that offers tickets to their hop-on/hop-off buses that travel from city to city. It’s a unique way to travel the country, see different cities and experience historical and cultural activities.
How Does It Work?
Peru Hop’s itineraries are completely customizable! They offer default or recommended itineraries, like their 6-day “Full South to Cusco” itinerary package. If you want to spend an extra night or two in one of the cities along the way, though, log onto their website and change your dates.
If you’ve got some time on your hands and want to extend again and again, fear not – the ticket lasts for a whole year! You just have to change your departure time and date at least 12 hours prior.
Where Does Peru Hop Go?
Peru is a big country with a lot of cities to visit. Planning a trip to Peru can be logistically difficult, as many of the destinations are spread out, with hundreds of miles between them.
Peru Hop simplifies that process by stopping at each of the following destinations:
- Copacabana, Bolivia
- La Paz, Bolivia
Peru Hop packages are available starting in Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, or La Paz, Bolivia.
Transportation to and from each city is included in the price of your ticket, along with transportation to and from each of the ticket’s included tours.
At the time of this writing, the following tours are included:
- Traditional Peruvian horse show (available for 7:00 a.m. departure from Lima only)
- Nature Reserve guided tour in Paracas
- Pisco tour and tasting near Huacachina
- Entrance to the Nazca Lines viewing towers
Also included in the ticket price is an onboard tour guide who will give you information about each stop during the ride. The guide will also help you book additional tours offered in partnership with Peru Hop for an additional cost.
These guides are also great for recommendations for restaurants and hotels or hostels at each destination.
The Overall Experience
The method you choose for Peru travel while you’re there is an important choice. So, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the Peru Hop experience to give you an honest review.
- Convenience: The onboard guide, their help with booking tours, and the flexibility of the bus schedule make it an extremely convenient option. It's a one-stop-shop if you will.
- Safety: The tour company stands behind its recommended tours and lodging, and they’ve chosen the best companies to work with, making them some of the safest options you’ll find.
- Destinations: It’s likely that your experience will take you to destinations in Peru that you may not have visited if it weren’t for choosing Peru Hop.
- Included tours: The inclusion of the tours and experiences mentioned below adds value to the ticket and might provide some experiences you may not have otherwise chosen.
- Meeting people: Being on a bus with other travelers on similar itineraries for multiple days is sure to make you some new friends with like-minded people.
- Touristy: This option may feel too touristy for some, as there is a lot of time spent around other travelers and tourists rather than amongst the locals.
- Buses: As you will probably surmise, a lot of time is spent on the bus throughout this experience; it may not be what you’re used to or are looking for.
- Price: The price, while still affordable considering the value (though it will surely go up as the company grows in size and popularity), is higher than the alternatives, such as utilizing the local bus companies and other public transport to traverse the same route.
Peru Hop Destinations
Speaking of those destinations, let’s dive into each one and talk about the Peru Hop experience. Since this is a Peru-focused post, we won’t discuss Copacabana or La Paz, Bolivia, leaving us with seven stops!
Lima is the most common starting place for Peru Hop packages. They have an office a few blocks from Kennedy Park in Miraflores. Buses depart Lima at 6:00 and 7:00 a.m.
While in Lima, you’ll want to visit Kennedy Park. It’s the central square of the Miraflores district and the hub for all the cultural activities. Some of the best restaurants in the area are steps away from Kennedy Park.
Peru Hop offers hotel pickups in Lima. If your hotel is near Miraflores, the bus will pick you up directly in front of your hotel. If your hotel is further away, a small van or car may pick you up and take you to a meeting point with the big bus, and then it’s off to Paracas.
Three-and-a-half hours south of Lima sits Paracas, a small fishing village with some unexpectedly beautiful views. Whether you take the National Reserve tour included in your Peru Hop ticket, or spring for the Ballestas Islands tour, you’ll find some of the most unique views in all of Peru.
The National Reserve has cliffs overlooking the ocean and a red-sand beach lined with yellow rock formations. The Ballestas Islands boat tour will drive you past picturesque rocky islands where you can see wildlife like dolphins, sea lions, marine birds, and even penguins.
Peru Hop recommends staying a night in Paracas, so you’ll have time to do both activities. It’s impossible to do both without staying the night due to tour times and bus schedules.
Paracas is your last chance to try some fresh Peruvian ceviche before moving on to Huacachina.
The only natural oasis in South America is the centerpiece of the town of Huacachina. Unfortunately, that natural part is a bit hyperbolic. It used to be fully natural but, due to the world’s changing climate, it now needs supplemental help.
Huacachina is a surprisingly hot little desert destination. It has a nightlife scene with some great activities. The sandboarding and dune buggy tour is the king of these activities. A wild ride on a dune buggy will take you out into the desert, where you’ll sandboard down dunes. It’s exhilarating!
Peru Hop recommends spending at least one night in Huacachina to enjoy at least sandboarding, the nightly barbeque, and nightlife. This is an ideal place to spend an extra night, as the desert provides unique and fun activities like ATVs on the dunes or even salsa lessons.
On your way out of Huacachina, you’ll stop at a Pisco distillery for a tour of the facility and a tasting experience. You’ll have time for lunch and another Pisco sour before getting on the bus to Nazca.
The Nazca stop is really two stops in one. First, the bus stops near the towers that overlook the Nazca Lines. There are towers on both sides of the road that you can climb and look down on the Nazca Lines. Be prepared for stairs!
The lines are large designs that were etched into the soil around 2,000 years ago. There is still mystery surrounding who put them there and why. Low-level flights are available that provide more views of the lines.
Secondly, the bus stops in the town of Nazca, another twenty minutes or so up the road. It’s a small town, but your last chance to stretch your legs before the overnight bus ride to Arequipa. It’s a good place to grab a bite to eat and stop in the supermarket to stash up on drinks and snacks for the long night bus.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to close your eyes and get some rest on the bus. If so, you’ll wake up in what is widely considered to be the most beautiful city in Peru: Arequipa. There are a few drop-off points around Arequipa, as they try to get everyone fairly close to their hotel of choice.
Arequipa is the home base of the famous Colca Canyon tour, a scenic hike where you’ll see condors in their natural habitat. Colca Canyon has options for same-day, overnight, and two-night excursions. The longer the hike, the deeper you’ll go into the canyon, and the more grueling the trip back up, so be prepared.
If hiking isn’t your thing, there is plenty to do and see in Arequipa. The Plaza de Armas is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in all of Latin America. Many of the restaurants in and around the square have balconies or terraces with views of Misti Volcano, which stands tall in the distance.
Spending two nights in Arequipa (or more if you want to do one of the Colca Canyon hikes) is recommended before catching the bus from Arequipa to Puno.
Puno is a village on the shores of the world-famous Lake Titicaca. Puno has a staggering high altitude of over 12,500 feet. That’s about 1,400 feet higher than Cusco, where travelers frequently suffer from elevation sickness. It’s also two and a half times the elevation of Denver, Colorado, where professional athletes famously have a harder time competing than when in other cities.
In Puno, Peru Hop will recommend a tour of some of the floating islands inhabited by the Uros people. They’ll facilitate transport to the docks, where a boat will take you out onto the lake. There, you’ll find islands constructed by generations of families who have lived there for hundreds of years. You’ll learn about the families' history and culture.
There will be an option to ride in a different handmade boat driven by one of the Uros people. For a few extra dollars (10 soles at the time of this writing), it’s worth the small additional expense to enjoy the ride.
Peru Hop recommends spending at least one night in Puno. Increase the nights if you do a homestay with one of the Uros families on a floating island, a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience.
After another overnight bus ride, you’ll wake up in Cusco. This is the end of the line as far as Peru Hop is concerned.
Large buses are not permitted on Cusco's downtown historic district streets, so Peru Hop organizes shuttles or taxis for each traveler. Some people may be grouped together depending on where travelers' hotels are located. Tipping the driver is recommended even though Peru Hop pays for the transfer.
Although Lima is the political capital of Peru, Cusco is the cultural and touristic capital. It is the home base for nearby tours such as Rainbow Mountain and Lake Humantay. Cusco (or Cuzco as it is sometimes spelled) is also the gateway to the Sacred Valley, where you’ll find Maras, Moray, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. From there, it’s on to Machu Picchu.
Spending at least 3-4 nights in Cusco, not including your trip or trek to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, is recommended. That’ll give you plenty of time to see the city and the surrounding sites before moving on to Machu Picchu, which is the reason many travelers choose to travel to Peru in the first place.
Conclusion: Is Peru Hop Worth It?
Weighing the pros against the cons, Peru Hop offers a unique and convenient way to see the country. Their onboard tour guides are knowledgeable and fun. Their added activities are well-planned and well-operated. Their itineraries and schedules are meticulously planned, as shown in their execution.
It may not be exactly what you were looking for or hoping for during a trip to a new country like this, but if you want to see these destinations and have a convenient and safe experience throughout, Peru Hop is the way to go. Have fun out there!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.