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How To Travel From Cusco To Huacachina Peru Safely

The theme of our travel in Peru was “changing plans”. We had to change plans regarding where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do because of concerns like altitude sickness in the children, and we also had to change travel plans regarding bus safety.

We are trying to travel as economically as possible, and therefore we were originally planning to travel primarily by bus. By the time we got to Peru we had already become experts in overnight buses, so we didn’t think we had much to worry about. But that was until I started reading about bus travel through the Andes of Peru. I must say, all of our bus travel experiences in Peru were good ones. We took a bus from Talca to Arequipa after an epic overnight bus through Chile, and we also traveled overnight between Arequipa and Cusco, and again from Chiclayo to Cuenca Ecuador. We also took several day time buses. We never had any issues with comfort, safety or security. However, we didn’t take any buses through the Andes.

In my research, I came across several blogs and forum posts warning against traveling overnight through the Andes – in particular – warning against the Cusco to Ica route. Now Ica/ Huacachina was our next destination after Cusco, so this was worrying. I had planned to take the, what seemed to be very straightforward, overnight bus between the two cities. However the internet scared me off of that idea due to a couple reasons. The first being concerns over hijacking and robbery. Apparently, for safety, all buses in Peru are tracked by GPS by their central operating centre. However, there is a point (or two) through the Andes mountains where the buses inevitably lose signal.

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Those with a criminal streak to them know about this, hence the risk of hijacking. The other item of concern was the condition and safety of the roads themselves. While the buses we took in Peru were all well maintained and had modern safety features like speed capping and seat belts, I can’t say that the roads themselves were as modern. In fact, driving on some of those roads in the Sacred Valley region in the day time stressed me out. I can’t imagine trying to navigate a huge bus on those same roads, and in the dark no less.

So after weighing the risks of hijacking, and potential plummeting to our deaths, we decided to skip the road route through the Andes all together.

Our original plan was to take a bus which went from Cusco to Ica overnight. One bus, and then a short taxi to Huacachina. Easy. Time consuming, but easy. Instead we swapped that two step process for a four step one – but one which was much safer.

So if you have a little extra money to burn, and you want the safest route from Cusco to Huacachina, then we recommend:

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Step 1: Cusco – Lima

There are tons of flights every day from Cusco to Lima and in general they are not too expensive. I had read that often planes can be delayed due to fog/ weather, so we opted for a crazy early morning flight. We caught a taxi from our hostel to the airport which cost us surprisingly little (5 soles). Our flight wasn’t delayed, and we arrived into lima at around 9 AM.

Step 2: Lima airport to bus station of your choice

Lima has a bit of a reputation, and the area around the airport probably contributes to that reputation quite a bit. When you come out of arrivals you will see a bunch of taxis trying to get your business. We had read that Green Taxis were very secure and safe, so we opted to use them. Now each bus company has its own secure station, so where you take your taxi depends on which bus company you want to use. We went with Cruz del Sur as they have a very good reputation and safety record. You can book your tickets ahead of time, but we decided not to as we were not sure what time we would arrive. However we had no issue buying our ticket when we arrived at the station.

Step 3: Lima to Ica

The bus from Lima to Ica is direct and takes about 4 hours. The scenery isn’t very interesting but the bus we were on (Cruz del Sur) had movies. The bus ride is comfortable, but yeah, there is only so much desert you can get excited about looking at.

Step 4: Ica to Huacachina

This is the easiest step. It’s only about a 10 – 15 minute taxi ride from the Ica bus station to the lagoon suburb of Huacachina. There are registered taxi drivers in the bus station who will take you there for around 10 soles. And voila… four steps later, but you have arrived!

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