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  1. Hi,

    My boyfriend and I are about to set off on an RTW trip. We were planning on traveling mostly by bus through most of South America, but have heard recently that it is not safe to do so, almost at all. Is this true?

    How do we know which companies are safe & reputable?

    Any info would be great.


  2. Craig and Linda says:

    No, that’s nonsense. We’ve been travelling trouble-free for over two months. Last night we had dinner with a family of four who regularly travel through South America.

    You may be pick-pocketed in local buses or combis (minibuses that run a set route) and the quality of the mechanics and drivers can be below par for first world countries but overall there’s no need to expect danger.

    While travelling long distances, choose an “executive” bus and you’ll be fine. We talk about some of the companies we’ve travelled on in the podcast, but you’re best to ask local friends that you make which bus is best for each particular leg of the journey.

    1. Jessica Sheppard says:


      I am going to be staying in Santiago, Chile for the month of May and we wanted to take a bus to Peru to see some of the ancient ruins there. What bus lines would be travellng along this route?

      Thanks so much!


      1. Hi Jessy – it really depends on what you book! There are several companies that will take you up to the border. You’ll cross the border by train or taxi, and book onto another bus on the other side. The other option is to go on a private tour over the Uyuni Salt Flats (highly recommended!) which will leave you at Uyuni in the south of Bolivia. From there, you can bus up to La Paz > Copacabana > Puno (Peru at last!) > Cusco or Arequipa.

      2. Jessy Sheppard says:

        Hi Craig and Linda,

        Thank you so much for the information on the buses. Do you know of any tourist companies in Santiago that I could book that private tour with that you mentioned?

      3. Hi again Jessy,

        I don’t have any direct contacts with tour operators in Santiago, I’m afraid. What people tend to do is bus up to San Pedro de Atacama, and book the tour there. You can normally do it the next day, or maybe stay one night… I’ve never heard of it being overbooked. But then again, any tour office in Santiago will be able to hook you up, with their mark-up of course.

        You’ll want to look through these articles to get an idea of what you might expect, and how we choose the best driver on the day of the trip we did.

        Intrepid do a 21-day tour from Santiago to La Paz, which would be a useful template for you: Intrepid Travel – small group tours (Intrepid’s one of our booking partners, so we get a commission if people buy through this link.) Intrepid use local transport in South America almost all the time, so if they’re going, it’s likely a bus runs there or a taxi can connect you.

        We’ve been to almost all of those places — just not quite on this itinerary — and they’re all great. San Pedro can be a bit of a backpacker ghetto, but make sure you head out to the astronomy tour when you’re there — it’s amazing! (There’s a few podcast’s on northern Chile/Argentina on the site.)

  3. Your articles are so spot on! I have yet to identify any article that was not fact. Traveling America by bus is actually the most enjoyable experience, as you will also meet some wonderful and interesting characters whilst seeing the vast country. Often you will meet less than desirable, hence I would pay for a little more to get the best seat you can. I know this sounds trite, but their are some really strange people out there!

  4. Hey again Linda and Craig, My travel agency is a firm favorite of your site, in case you had not noticed. I am particularly interested in South America and its culture as I have many clients considering travel to this beautiful, but often misunderstood Country. You know, it amazes me, the fear people promote within countries of different tongue and looks. We experience this often in Thailand and yet we travel to western countries and violence, theft, prostitution and all the negative human behaviors are ripe and big business. How do we break down these unreasonable and ill informed perceptions of Asia, South America, Africa and so on? I have many expat friends from around the globe living in and around South Asia, are they fearing their lives, no, they live fulfilling lives with all the complexities that occur in any country. Personal safety and safe keeping of your belongings is not a unique expectation to South America or Asia. Lets open our eyes and begin truly living and loving in this wonderful world of ours. Travelers can play a significant role in bridging perceptions. It is all too easy.

  5. Agree with Craig and Linda here Heather – there really should be no probelm as long as you don’t nod off on a combi with all your valuables under your seat… Also in Peru, if you get slightly more expensive ‘luxury’ coaches then you have a coach stewardess on there as well, and they film you getting on and off the bus and take your passport details for security reasons – it really is quite thorough and comfortable, though these sort of buses don’t run every route and I’m sure everyone loves experiencing the more local kind of buses, though the luxury ones are a nice placer to start if you are feeling a little nervous.

  6. thanks so much, this is really helpful.
    im planning a trip for next january, febuary, and march and want to go to the major cities on the west coast, but i cant seem to find any prices. does anyone know about how much bus tickets from cartagena-quito, quito-lima, lima-santiago, and santiago-buenoes aires will cost?
    thank you!

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