Chala to Arequipa: A Bus Passage For the Ages

I found myself in the small city of Nazca.  This historic city lies about three hours south of Ica and the dunes of Huacachina.    My goal was to get to Arequipa which is about 12 hours south of Nazca.

I wanted to travel during the day so I could see the coastal scenery.  I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed. I just knew that there was no sense in taking a night bus.  The only transportation on offer was traveling through the night.

Luckily I had a conversation with an English couple who said that they were stopping in Chala to break up the length of the ride and so that they could travel by day.  They said that there were day buses to Arequipa from the small coastal town.

I located and spoke to a minivan driver who made the two to three hour jaunt daily.  They assured me that there were morning buses bound for Arequipa.

I took the two and a half hour minivan ride to Chala.

After arriving in in the small Panamerican Highway town and acquiring a hotel, I took a stroll on a virgin beach.  There I had the pleasure of checking out birds feeding on seafood at dusk.  Then I inquired about a bus to Arequipa.

I found out that the company Llamosas had the earliest depature.  The woman there told me that the first one left at 9:30 am.  She said that I’d have to come back the next morning to buy my ticket and to see if the double decker option would be available.

I showed up at about 8:30 am hoping for that double decker.  I wanted the kind that has a top panoramic view from the passengers’ seats above the driver’s cabin, like the one I took from Piura to Chiclayo.

The 9:30 bus was in front of the office.  The kind ticket agent informed me that the next bus left at noon and was a double decker.  She showed me the seat diagrams of both buses.  The 9:30 had about four seats left.  She told me that if I waited till noon I could have the top, front seat on the right, for optimum views of the Pacific Ocean.

I took a few minutes to think.  I had my heart set on leaving early and arriving at a decent hour.  I checked out the 9:30 am bus to see that it was an average bus  with no panoramic top front view,  unlike the one leaving at noon, which I was informed also had a bathroom and very comfy seats.

The woman also informed me that both buses cost the same price of 20 soles or $7.41.

Why is it so inexpensive?”

It’s a promotional fare because most people don’t seem to want to travel from Chala.”

The decision was a no brainer.  I went back to my non-wired hotel and wrote my prior post.

I boarded a little bit before noon and at about 10 past the hour we were off.

I had the best seat on the big and plush, rolling piece of steel.  As I was the only foreign traveler, I was probably the only one who cared.  I had two seats to myself and thought:  Sometimes in life we get lucky.  When we do we need to embrace that fortune.

In the last four and a half months I’ve spent about 107 hours on buses and minivans.  This includes the most recent eight hour journey, which proved to be the most scenic of this trip, and my life.

I went nuts taking photos through the windows of the bus and used up the battery in both cameras.

In hindsight, I would have arrived early with some window cleaner and paper towels and explained why I wanted to wash the windows.  Nonetheless I was happy with the photos and would like to share what I thought were the most worthy.


An array of elements:  Sky, ocean, wind, waves, sand, rail, asphalt and paint

Heading south along South America’s west coast

Natural art in the form of rock formations

A natural wonderland along the Panamericana in southern Perú

Wonderful bus ride ambience

I thought about asking to stop for a swim break but figure that I would have been looked at as some sort of  gringo loco.

Cruising along desert hills

Tunnel on the Panamericana in southern Perú

This is one of the few times that I became nervous and decided to put all my faith in the driver of the bus

I thought: He’s passing this truck.  OK? The driver knows what he’s doing.  My new mantra: He knows.  All is well. 

Stunning view from the right side of the bus

Because I was so busy looking for photos on the picturesque right, I missed getting my camera around in time to get a good shot of the truck that had recently flipped after taking the hair-pin turn too quickly.   We just drove.  I have no idea if anyone was in the truck.  My guess is that it had happened very recently to us driving by.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

 What’s the most intersting or best journey you’ve ever taken?  Feel free to leave a comment.

9 responses to this post.

  1. […] Chala to Arequipa: A Bus Passage For the Ages ( Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in Travel […]


  2. Posted by Al on May 30, 2012 at 23:41

    Spectacular landscape, Peru looks really amazing


    • AL: I’d say at this moment Peru’s my favorite land. I don’t wanna leave. But I’ve already purchased a non refundable ticket back to the states, flying back on Sunday.


  3. Posted by Darren on May 29, 2012 at 02:33

    I’d like to see some pics of you trying to surf that coast line 🙂


    • DARREN: Yeah. It would be fun. South America boasts some nice opportunities for surfers. Ever since I went boggie boarding in Bali back in the day, I haven’t had an interest in surfing as I got sun poisoning. It was a tad unpleasant. I rode two waves that day though. It made me understand why surfers love their sport so much.


  4. Posted by Mamma on May 28, 2012 at 22:40

    Beautiful pics, thanks!


  5. Posted by Annie on May 28, 2012 at 21:03

    Wow! I’m glad you took the later bus so i could see the wonderful panoramic views! Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: