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Cruz del Sol Bus Ride

Cruz del Sol Bus Ride

Trip Cost: 182 Soles (About $64) One Way
Travel Time: Approx. 22 hours

If you’re not in a hurry to get to Cusco, or if you looking to travel on a budget, then taking the bus from Lima to Cusco is a great option. The ride itself is approximately 22 hours, which I was not too thrilled to hear and actually was willing to shell out the money to take an hour flight instead. But my fellow travelers, as adventurous as they were, felt that this was the best option since it was cheap and would help us in acclimating to the altitude level of Cusco, which is approximately at ten thousand feet. I still thought that our time would be better spent in Cusco itself rather than on a bus for 22 hours. Not to mention that the day before we were set to ride the bus there was another bus that toppled into the valley hundreds of feet below due to poor road conditions. On the same roads as we were about to drive. Morbid as I am, I had to read about the accident while on the bus and decided to look up how many people have died due to these bus accidents. 300 dead in 5 years…5000 injured. Yay.
But as fearful and hesitant as I was, I decided to give it a shot. I was outnumbered anyways as far as votes. And to my surprise, actually I was more shocked than surprised, I actually enjoyed the trip. The bus was two levels, had comfortable reclining seats, foot rests and 2 bathrooms. And they serve you food. But they make you wait for hours and you don’t actually get any rest stops (we only had 2 and it was just to pick up more people) so make sure you stock up on food and drinks. But no alcohol beverages…I know, bummer. We actually had to chug our beers because we couldn’t bring it on and they go through your bags so don’t even think about sneaking it on (we actually saw a bottle of liquor get confiscated).
The most enjoyable part was the views that you witness within the long 22 hour ride. You get to see every kind of scenery. When driving through Lima you get to see the city, outside of Lima is sand dunes and desert on the left littered with shanties and roadside eateries consisting of shacks and sparkling ocean views to the right. About 3 hours into the trip you’ll pass through a little town that makes you thankful you live where you live. Unless where you live is similar to this run-down town. Further along on the trip and closer to Cusco you get to see the amazing, sweeping views of the highlands. At some points you look out the window and you can see clouds below you! That’s how high you are. You are literally driving up, down and around mountains on roads that are at some points not really fit for a double-decker bus to be driving through. And yes, it can take your breath away at the amazing views and make you cringe at the same time when you realize there’s maybe a foot between the bus and the valley below. And then sometimes your heart skips a beat (or two) when your bus has to suddenly stop because there’s a giant boulder in the middle of the road that a huge caterpillar machine is trying to move out of the way because it just so happened to fall from up above.
And yes you might have to close your eyes a few times when the bus driver is trying to be Mario Andretti and speeds around the curves (not that 35 mph is speeding but I would prefer to go about 5mph when the road is barely big enough for two cars yet alone a bus and I can see down hundreds of feet below into nothing but rocks and trees).
But I survived and the bus ride was a walk in the park compared to the adventurous road ahead that would include Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley. Worth the 22 hours? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Only for those that can stomach harrowing roads and won’t shit their pants from the obscene altitude.

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