Peru Hop Review: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As the name entails, Peru Hop is a hop-on, hop-off bus service operating within Peru and Bolivia.  It starts in Lima and ends in La Paz (or vice-versa) and they offer a variety of pass combinations to hit cities in between.  The service is geared towards travelers and backpackers looking to follow the notorious “Gringo Trail” while promising safety, flexibility, and a good time along the way. 

 

The Good:

  • Safety.  The most common horror stories we heard about buses in South America were around theft and crazy drivers.  With Peru Hop, we never had to worry about either.  Not only are they professional about keeping the doors locked up, the buses are also equipped with 24 hour GPS monitoring, which informs their HQ if there were any unplanned stops. Overnight bus rides have two drivers on board to prevent exhaustion. Not once during our trip did we feel unsafe, or worry about our driver’s performance
  • Flexibility. You can change your bus times whenever you like and your tickets are good for up to one year.  So after choosing your start and end locations, you have a full 365 days to get from one spot to the other.  This is super convenient for travelers who aren’t sticking to a strict time table and want the option to stay longer in certain cities.
  • Local Guides.  These guys are tasked with a variety of jobs from booking hostels to making tour arrangements and even providing giving local history during the trip. They provide all explanations in both English and Spanish and to top it off, they’re all super approachable and fun.  We even shared a bonfire with a few guides in Huacachina!
  • Freebies.  They organize free stops along the route that include (but aren’t limited to) viewing of the Nazca lines, a Pisco distillery, and historical slavery tunnels.
  • Punctual.  The buses have door-to-door service and do everything they can to leave on-time.  This is quite rare across South America, where many don’t leave the bus terminal until 20-30 minutes after schedule.
  • Border crossing. We were pretty nervous about this since Bolivia has A LOT of stipulations for Americans coming into their country.  The Bolivia Hop guides were super helpful, though, and made sure that all of our paperwork was organized and complete.
  • Fun.  Peru Hop is essentially a hostel on wheels, so you will meet loads of other travelers and since the itinerary is usually similar for everyone, you have a built in network of people to explore the cities with.

The Bad:

  • Price.  While we believe that you get what you pay for, you will be spending more on Peru Hop than you will if you just navigate via local buses.
  • Hostel Pickup not available in Cusco.  Though this is not a huge deal, it can be a bit of a pain to get to the Peru Hop terminal in Cusco as it is not the main bus terminal (it has a specific office) so just make sure your taxi driver knows this!
  • Promoted Offers.  We loved that Peru Hop offered discounts on local hostels and tours.  At first, we used these exclusively until we did a bit of our own research.  We consistently found cheaper options and really wished that these had also been promoted by the company so that we didn’t feel pigeonholed into the ones they offered.
  • No Wi-fi.  Almost all buses actually lack wi-fi (so you really have no alternative) but we thought this should be noted anyway.

Heading to Machu Picchu? Check out our review of Alpaca Expeditions, a top operator in Cusco!

The Ugly

  • Overnight buses.  While the seats do recline, it’s just not enough to expect a decent night’s sleep. We know, we know, it’s a bus so it’s obviously not the same comfort level as a hotel but having the option to pay more for a fully reclining seat would be worth it.  Many bus companies in South America offer “cama suite” seats at a more premium price.  These seats fully recline and (in our opinion) it’s worth the extra money.
  • Toilets.  We won’t dwell on this one too long but it should be noted that the buses do have toilets.  So why is this a negative?  The guides will tell you over and over again that the toilets are only to be used for “number one”.  Unfortunately, you may still encounter someone that proceeds to use it for other reasons, and then the entire bus suffers.  Best of luck on this one.
  • Wristbands. While not as garish as the cheap paper wristbands most hostels provide, the reliance of wristbands was a bit annoying. Nothing says tourist like matching red and blue wristbands featuring the hipster llama on them.

Bottom Line

Recommend!  We would happily use these guys again.  Though they might be a bit pricier than the average bus company, having everything under one roof saved both time and headaches, especially at the beginning of our trip. Seasoned travelers and those on tight budgets should look elsewhere. 

 

Learn the history of Peru’s national spirit, and a recipe to make a Pisco Sour at home!

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