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.
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.
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).
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 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.