First Class

Before we set off for South America, our research online and from other travellers had left us with the impression that travelling by bus around South America might not be the best experience.

However, having spent a considerable amount of time on buses during the past ten weeks, I would be tempted to disagree. Admittedly not all buses have been great, but some have been amazing beyond our wildest imaginations!

We have made quite a few long distance journeys by bus during our travels through South America, including:

  • Lima to Cusco – 24 hours (Cruz Del Sur)
  • Cusco to Arequipa – 10 hours (Cruz Del Sur)
  • Arequipa to Puno – 6 hours (Cruz Del Sur)
  • Puno to Copacabana – 6 hours (??)
  • La Paz to Sucre – 12 hours (El Dorado)
  • Potosi to Tupiza – 5 hours (??)
  • La Quicac to Salta – 7 hours (??)
  • Salta to Posadas – 19 hours (FlechaBus)
  • Posadas to Puerto Iguazu – 6 hours (Tigre Iguazu)
  • Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires – 20 hours (Crucero Del Norte)
  • Buenos Aires to Mendoza – 16 hours (Via Bariloche)
  • Mendoza to Santiago – 10 hours (Andesmar)

The above list only includes bus journeys over three hours long. Anything less than that now feels like a short journey. In total we have spent over 140 hours – almost 6 days – travelling on buses!

Front seats on Cruz Del Sur in Peru

We have always tried to be selective over which bus companies we have used, especially after reading some of the horror stories that abound the web. For all the journeys we have made, there are only a handful of bus companies that we wouldn’t recommend, including the three I can’t remember the names of and Tigre Iguazu. We had the front row seats upstairs on the Tigre Iguazu bus and thought that the air conditioning was very loud – well that was until we moved the curtain in the middle of the window to discover a huge crack with air coming through it. It also looked as though the bus hadn’t been cleaned since it was put into service a number of years previous. We might have just been unlucky, but this was our only experience with that company. All of the other bus companies in the above list we would happily recommend, based on our experiences.

Cama Suite on Crucero Del Norte in Argentina

Our favourite bus journey of the past ten weeks was the one from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires. We had opted for the luxury Cama Suite option, as it was only a few pounds more expensive than the Cama option – costing 650 Argentinian Pesos each (£80). The cama option is as per the Cruz Del Sur bus we had used in Peru. The Cama Suite is like first-class on a plane! We had a pre-dinner drink (whisky and coke) with a canape (olive and cheese on a stick), a drink with dinner all followed by a glass (yes, a glass champange flute!) of champagne after dinner! We were provided with blankets, pillows, eye masks and headphones so that we could make the most of the individual entertainment centres we had in front of us. The seats fully reclined and the footrests came up to make a fully-flat bed, although it would appear to be designed for people somewhat shorter than either of us. Despite this, it was still very comfy and easy to sleep.

Lindsay settling in for a 20 hour journey from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires

At the end of the 20 hour journey we didn’t want to get off the bus. It was so comfortable and we felt so relaxed, despite having been on a bus for so long. If you get the opportunity to try a Cama Suite bus, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It really was like first class travel and if buses were like this back in the UK I would be tempted to travel by bus more often.

Enjoying a post-dinner glass of champagne en-route to Buenos Aires

Later this evening we say goodbye to South America as we set off for the next leg of our big adventure in New Zealand. I fear that we have had all of the luxury travel we will have on this trip and I am definitely not looking forward to having to squeeze myself into an economy seat for the 13+ hours to Auckland!

Andy making the most of the comfortable seats

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