I absolutely never thought I would say this, but while traveling in Peru, I actually prefer a 12 hour bus ride to a 7 hour bus ride.

It may sound like I just ingested a full bottle of Crazy Pills, but the logic is actually fairly sound. Basically, once you’re faced with a bus ride over 6 hours (which you often are in Peru), it makes more sense to take that bus overnight, saving yourself a day of activities and a night of paying for lodging. Trouble is, for 7 and even 9 hour bus rides, you are almost guaranteed not to get enough sleep. Although the overnight buses in Peru have extremely posh seats (some of which recline a full 180 degrees), sleeping on the bus kind of sucks. Because honestly, no matter how nice your seat is, you’re still sleeping on a bus. So even if you get on a 7 hour overnighter and miraculously immediately fall asleep, you’re getting, at best, seven tumultuous hours of ‘rest.’

Bus in Peru

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, all of the overnight schedules for sub-10 hour bus rides seem to have been created by either a masochist or a moron. For example, I got on a bus the other night that left at 9pm and lasted 7 hours. Do the math…do the math…FOUR OCLOCK IN THE MORNING. Who the F wants to arrive anywhere, on any form of transport at FOUR in the morning? From a customer’s perspective, I cannot conceive of a reason why that bus doesn’t leave at midnight. But then for many of the bus lines here, customer comfort is not even remotely a priority.

Hence my preference for a 12 hour ride. These buses tend to leave at say, 8pm, which puts them in around a much more sane 8am. Additionally, this gives you time to maybe watch a movie, plus the requisite hour or more to fall asleep, plus extra hours to compensate for waking up every hour and a half because the bus went from 80mph to 10mph in three seconds in order to go over a speed bump.

I knew I would log a lot of bus time on this trip and definitely wasn’t looking forward to it. Now, with only a couple weeks left in Peru, I realize it hasn’t actually been that bad. The infrequent long rides make the almost daily “short” rides (i.e. less than 3 hours) feel like no big deal and the long ones aren’t too bad, provided that they’re long enough. If that makes any sense.

(*Exception: I just returned from the ticket office to get what I assumed would be an overnight bus (since it is 12 hours) and found out that first of all, it’s actually 15 hours, and second of all, it leaves at 4:15 in the morning. Which means riding a 15 hour bus throughout the day, negating every advantage I just talked about. I want to slap the person who decided that schedule – and I haven’t even ridden the bus yet!)

By the way, after 43 days in Peru, I’ve spent about 109 hours on buses, conservative estimate. That’s an average of 2.5 hours on buses every day and a total of just over four and a half days of pure bus time. It’s a big country.