I’ve taken on some pretty mammoth journeys since being in South America – mostly by bus. I’ve clocked 38 hours straight in Argentina and been on some pretty ropey old carriages in Bolivia, but nothing has come close to how awful the 20 hours I spent with the expensive Tepsa company travelling from Cusco to Lima. To be fair, there were some extenuating circumstances out of Tepsa’s control; the ridiculously windy roads that make up the first two thirds of the journey particularly. But the broken air con and heating combined with the broken chemical toilet I was sitting next to made the trip excruciating.

Having heard some horror stories about bus travel in Peru involving either road side bandits or terrible crashes, we were pretty careful about picking our bus. We spent a good hour at the bus station a few days before we left basically interviewing each bus company and checking out prices. Tepsa were the slickest and second most expensive company behind ‘Cruz del Sur’ – what swung it for me in the end was the quality of their flyers and branding, they seemed easily the most professional. So after shelling out $170 (Peruvian Soles – about £38) for ‘cama’ seats, we were all set.

It all started so well, the bus was new and impressive, the operation well organised and professional (it was like getting on a plane, checking in bags and shit) – we even had finger prints taken and our faces committed to video to put off potential bandits. So far so good. But stepping onto the bus was like walking into a sauna. It was roasting hot, which made no sense considering it wasn’t that hot outside. We bought this up with the stewardess and she promised that the aircon would kick in as soon as we got going. Twenty minutes in it became clear that this wasn’t going to happen as the aircon was out of action. The heat was coming from the obscenely hot heating at our feet which not only made the temperature of the bus unbearable, but was red hot to the touch. When we enquired about this it turned out the heating was also broken, but broken so they couldn’t turn it off.

Booking only two days before departure meant we’d had to book the seats at the back of the bus, next to the toilet. There was always potential for this to be a bit smelly, but to add insult to injury the toilet was also broken – meaning that we were basically stuck in a sewer sauna for twenty hours.

The roads themselves are pretty good – all tarmacked and in good condition. The problem with them is that they’re constantly winding through the Peruvian mountains. Literally non-stop for about 15 hours – throwing you one way then the next. This on top of the awful conditions at the back of the bus meant I spent most of the time concentrating hard on not throwing up.

Weirdly the bus itself was one of the nicest I’ve travelled on, the seats were new and very comfortable – it was spacious and modern and showed movies all the way. But the horribleness smell, heat and helter skelter roads made it the worst 20 hours of travelling I’ve ever experienced.