From La Paz To Arequipa By Bus

From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus

Which bus company to go with?

There are various bus companies that go from La Paz in Bolivia to Arequipa in Peru. You can take a Bolivian bus company (not the best standard) to the border of Peru and then continue with a Peruvian bus company (much higher standards and safer vehicles). My two favourite Peruvian bus companies are Tepsa and Cruz del Sur – both have been around for a long time, have a frequent service and modern & safe buses.

Peru Hop

Another option is to go with Peru Hop which works like the usual hop on and hop off tourist bus that you see in bigger cities. The difference is that Peru Hop offers this hop on hop off service across Peru up to La Paz in Bolivia. There are two routes you can take from La Paz, either to Cusco or to Lima. Both stop in Puno and then split into the two different lines. The one to Cusco goes straight up and the one to Lima stops in Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina and Paracas.

Peru Hop is perfect if you want to discover lots of different places in Peru and are looking for a cheap way to do so. It’s not a ‘luxurious’ way to travel but quite comfortable as in everything is arranged for you and you can even book accommodation and trips on the bus. That said, it’s catered for backpackers and so the options are mostly for hostels. The entire vibe is quite ‘backpacker’ like and also the trips are mostly for ‘younger’ travelers from 20 to 40 years old. If that’s exactly what you are after or if you are travelling alone, definitely go with Peru Hop. If you are after a bit more comfort and honeymoon style travel, consider a different bus company for your trip through Peru.

From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus

From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus

How we traveled from La Paz to Peru

We decided to go with Peru Hop from La Paz to Arequipa and then take Tepsa for the way straight from Arequipa to Lima. The bus that picked us up in La Paz was quite old, not comfy at all, no seat belts and no toilet (…the Bolivian style of going by bus).  But no worries, this won’t be the bus you will have to spend the night in! As soon as we passed the Peruvian border we changed into a modern bus (…the Peruvian way of bus travel). Yeey!

From La Paz to Copacabana

The way from La Paz to Peru was still quite pleasant though as the way to Copacabana was super beautiful with great views of the Titicaca Lake (photos below).

From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus

We stopped for a few hours in Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the Titicaca Lake. There we had time to relax in a cafe and join the tour to Isla del Sol, an island around an hour away by ferry from Copacabana.

From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus From La Paz to Arequipa by Bus

From Copacabana to Arequipa

In the early evening the bus tour continued from Copacabana towards Puno on the Peruvian side of the Titicaca Lake. Depending on which bus company you cross the border with you may be accompanied by the bus personnel to pass by the different border controls. Well, or not: when we went from Cusco to La Paz with a Bolivian bus company, two guests got lost for more than one hour. Peru Hop went WITH their guests to make sure that there are no issues.

We arrived in Puno later in the evening and took a break to get dinner. Most of the bus guests went together to get some pizza which was fun and perfect to chat with some fellow travelers. A few other guests decided to pursue their own dinner plans. So in the end everyone was fed and happy.

The bus takes around 6 hours to go from Puno to Arequipa where you will arrive super early in the morning. I think we arrived around 5 am. Lucky us, our hotel receptionist (who slept in a little room behind the reception desk) heard us banging the door and let us in. Our rooms were already ready, too , and we could still get a few hours of sleep before exploring Arequipa.

From La Paz to Arequipa by bus. Travelling in Peru and Bolivia. Backpacking South America

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9 Comments

  1. sarah
    February 27, 2017 / 1:35 am

    I used Peru Hop. I think that’s a fairly neat summary of them. I liked the kind of ready-made itinerary there, so that I could decide how long I wanted to stay at each place and places like Huacachina I wouldn’t have known about without them taking us there. I did find it a bit back-pack-y though. I’ma backpacker too but everyone seemed so young on the trips I took.
    Both Peru and Bolivia hold happy memories for me though, and your photos show it off brilliantly.

  2. February 27, 2017 / 6:43 am

    The view looks incredible! So many places that I’ve never heard of!
    I am planning to go backpacking in South American next year and this post definitely comes in handy :)
    Yu En recently posted…The Ultimate Dalat City GuideMy Profile

  3. February 27, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed bus travel and here in India we have all kinds – old and rickety without toilets to modern ones with even sleeping options. The Peru Hop sounds like a good bet and hop on hop off services in cities far and wide are a great way to see everything touristy, but being able to cross the border is an added bonus. Thanks for all the information.

  4. February 27, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    I was meant to do this trip in reverse however due to the Peruvian miners strikes I got stuck in a city a little further up Peru and never made it to Arequipa. After a few different bus journeys and a flight I made it to La Paz. I then travelled by bus to Copacabana so I also did the river crossing like you did.
    I found bus travel in both countries easy to do but I do like the ease of the hop on and off companies.

  5. February 27, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Isla del Sol looks magnificent. That part where there are cafes lined and there is a view of the mountain from behind is just tourist-y but I love that it isn’t crowded. Sure, traveling on a bus isn’t the most convenient but like you said, it is perfect for backpackers. It is a slow pace kind of travel and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the views of the places you get to stop by along the way.
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  6. February 28, 2017 / 3:44 am

    Peru Hop seems like the way to travel, especially for backpackers. I would consider myself a seasoned traveller, though not always a backpacker and think I would still enjoy this style. Lake Titicaca looks incredibly fresh and inviting. I do hope to get there some day. There is so much in Bolivia that I want to see!
    Mountain views are always a plus for me as when I see such impeccable scenery I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have the ability to travel.
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  7. February 28, 2017 / 4:04 am

    The view over the lake would be worth the bus trip alone. Its good to know there are a couple of options with Peru Hop and the local/country run buses on either side of the border – and I do like the PeruHop bus takes its passengers through the border process so they don’t get lost! That’s a big tick for them in my book!
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  8. March 4, 2017 / 12:40 am

    The Peru Hop sounds like a fantastic way to travel from La Paz to Arequipa. For me, not knowing too much about getting around South America, I actually would have looked at flying…but taking the bus sounds like a fun option. I mean you really get to see the beautiful surroundings and experience local villages and cultures along the way. I also think it’s great that Peru Hop also offer the option to book into a hostel. Isla de Sol sounds amazing – I would totally do the tour here!

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