Private and Shared Shuttles
Getting around Latin America by bus, train, or ferry is a great choice for many travelers, but for others, it burdens them with complications they would rather not endure. For example, public transport users who don’t research and reserve online end up spending their limited vacation time going to bus terminals far from the city, not finding available schedules to travel that fit their plans, calling transportation offices and being hung up on or getting non-sensible answers, and losing a seat for not making the purchase on time. These are some of the situations that any traveler would like to avoid.
For these and other reasons, many travelers are increasingly opting for private or shared shuttle transportation as a safe and more expeditious alternative to public transportation.
What's the difference between private and shared shuttles?
Private shuttles are cars, vans, or small buses whose only schedule and itinerary are that which the private passenger dictates. They free the private passenger from having to spend their vacation time dealing with the logistics of transportation and instead let transportation adapt to their location, their schedule, and their needs.
Shared shuttles are a hybrid between public and private transportation. They are smaller vehicles than buses, but like public transportation they operate on a fixed on a popular route for a higher price per seat than a bus. This means they get to the destination more quickly than a bus, with less stopping and more convenient pickup locations than a bus station. However, they are not door-to-door that private shuttles are, and you share the ride with strangers not part of your immediate family or group. In essence, they are carpooling.
Arranging for a shared or private shuttle
Shared shuttles fit into mostly the same model as bus schedules and reservations, so they can be searched for and reserved through the AndesTransit home page, allowing you to compare them alongside bus options for the same route and determining what's best overall for your particular context, price point, schedule, and itinerary. Just bear in mind that shared shuttles are rare; you won't find them going to all the same places buses go. Shared shuttles operators only find they are economically feasible on routes that are already highly popular and trafficked.
Private shuttles, however, are things you tailor to your requirements, and can pretty much go anywhere you're willing to pay for. Each of our individual country sites have calculator pages where you can build your private shuttle to accommodate your group size and luggage, time of desired departure, and more. Use the below list to go to the private shuttle page for the country in which you want to travel:
Shuttles in Central America: domestic and international
Shared shuttles used to be fairly limited to Costa Rica, but that has changed over the past year, and now Guatemala has become a popular place for shuttling to locations like Antigua, Flores, Lanquin, Rio Dulce, and Semuc Champey. In Costa Rica, the most popular route is still National Route 1 (connecting the cities of San José, Punta Arenas, Guanacaste, and the Nicaraguan border). National Route 2 (linking San José, Palmar Norte/Sur, and south to the border of Panama) is also increasingly in demand, as it gets you a number of attractions and national parks like Piedras Blancas. The other route to the famous Bocas del Toro of Panama is going from San Jose to Caribe Sur on Route 32.
While each country imposes its own border and visa restrictions that you have to research before you plan your shuttle trip, moving between Costa Rica and Panama tend to be the easiest to do, followed by crossing to Nicaragua. In the north, moving between Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador are common, but can often be interrupted due to the ongoing conflicts inside those countries. Belize’s most common neighbor to visit is the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, but it also has a main route to Guatemala.
All of these domestic and international routes are possible through private shuttle arrangements that AndesTransit can help you plan and reserve. Use the links above, or if you still run into a dead-end, use our custom inquiry form.
Shuttles in Colombia cross-border to Ecuador
Moving around in charter transportation (as private shuttles are known in some countries of the region) will allow you to enjoy extensive green landscapes such as the Eje Cafetero, the cultural heart of Colombia and one of the most sought-after regions by tourists. There you will find countless botanical gardens, hot springs, and tourist-friendly towns such as Salento and Armenia, undoubtedly the strong cards of the coffee country. But just as popular are private shuttle reservations on the Caribbean coast, like betweeen Cartagena and Santa Marta, Tayrona, and Minca. We've also been responding to an increasing demand for private transfers in Cauca (Popayan, San Agustin, Silvia, etc.).
Shuttles in Ecuador
In Ecuador, shared shuttles are the only option for crossing the border from Ecuador to Colombia, as public buses don't service this route any more, and if they do in the future, it is usually a route that commits you to go all the way from Bogota to Lima, Peru, or from Guayaquil to Cali, huge distances that appeal to few.
Inside the country of Ecuador, shuttling (both shared and private, but mostly private) has become hugely popular to get to major destinations like Baños, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quilotoa, Tena, and more.
Just use the links above as noted to get yourself reserved.
Shuttles in Peru
Traveling by land in a shuttle within Peru is not as common as in other countries, but there are some important exceptions.
One centers around the Ica-Nazca-Paracas region, which is compact enough to pack in a lot of attractions and diverse experiences that would make the best use of your time in a private shuttle. For example, touring the Pisco producing cellars and vineyards, seeing the famous desert oasis of Huacachina, and then heading out to the amazing Paracas seashore, all while still making time for heading over to Nazca to encounter the legendary Nazca lines. A private shuttle can be arranged for you to fit all or part of these experiences of an epic Peruvian adventure so that you don’t go home empty-handed.
Another terrific area of Peru that is better for private shuttle transportation is beach-hopping along the northern coast of Peru. Instead of waiting alongside the highways for buses with your surfboards or even your gangle of beach clothes and gear, just get AndesTransit to arrange a private shuttle for you or your group to quickly move you back and forth along the string of pearls of beach towns that are Zorritos, Punta Sal, Mancora, Los Organos, and everything around and in between.
For getting from one major city to another, our bus service transportation options in Peru are a great choice with a range of prices and levels of comfort added. See our separate page, Peru Transportation.
Shuttles in Brazil and Argentina
There is no exception the rule of shuttles availability in the largest countries in South America, Argentina and Brazil. Like Peru, you may think that they are too large to be practical for shuttles, but the reason they are different is that they are so large that they have several small regions within them that are abundant in activities and recreation after you get there by long-distance bus travel. Long-distance buses or trains don’t serve the purpose well of getting you around an itinerary of activities inside of a recreational zone as good as a private shuttle.
For example, El Chalten, El Calafate, and Villa La Angostura are all fantastic small towns in their own right with beautiful natural surroundings, but most people traveling to the area want to visit all manner of breathtaking parks and trail hikes that you can’t reach by foot or waiting for a bus. A private shuttle, however, can be arranged to drop you off at each place in a compressed amount of time and let you experience everything the region has to offer.
A similar example in Brazil would be the fascinating coastal region of Santa Catarina, where you have a number of towns within reach of each other that you want to visit all of them, not just one. Using buses would be fine, but not as efficient and time-saving as just reserving a private shuttle to take you from Balneário Camboriú to Itajaí or Blumenau and Joinville, Itapema, or Bombinhas. Don’t deny yourself the ease of accessing the best of them all instead of just one.
Other regions like these to consider well-suited for a private shuttle arrangement are Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Mendoza in Argentina; and Porto Alegre, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Step by step: book your place on a shuttle now
With AndesTransit, booking a shuttle is a simple process of a few minutes where through its search engine you can explore different routes and design your itinerary, immediately being presented both public and private transportation options to meet your plans. If you can’t find a private shuttle for your itinerary through the sites listed above, it’s still probably available by just making an inquiry to our travel team to look into it for you.
When ready to secure the private service, all you do is complete a short questionnaire in our shuttle booking center, and our team will go into action confirming the details of the trip, such as the pick-up location and the number of travelers in your group, and giving you an easy checkout process where you can finish reserving with a credit card or PayPal payment.
For your safety, a support team member will contact you the day before your shuttle trip to remind you of the details of the trip, how to identify the driver and shuttle, and then monitor the trip to your destination in case you need anything along the way.
Tips and advice for your safety and comfort
Always remember to keep at least a copy, if not the original, of your passport with you in your pocket. Police and military checkpoints are common, and identifying documents are always requested. Make a note of the name of the bus company or shuttle provider you booked and check the nearby places where you will be parking so that you can orient yourself to landmarks and points of interest, as well as where to return if you are taking the same shuttle elsewhere.