Travelers making the 296-mile (477 km) journey between Puerto Maldonado and Cusco should be prepared for the stark altitude change from the low-lying jungle to over 10,900 feet (3,320 m) above sea level. Plane travel is certainly the easiest (albeit most expensive) means of getting between these two destinations. There is also the option of taking a bus or hiring a private transfer.
Duration: 50 minutes
By far the easiest and most popular means of transportation between Puerto Maldonado and Cusco for travelers is to fly. There is one direct daily flight, currently departing in the early afternoon and operated by LATAM. Other flights connect the long way round via Lima. Flying direct, flight time is 50 minutes.
Puerto Maldonado's airport, Padre Aldamiz International Airport (PEM), is just 4.5 miles (7 km) outside the city: you can be staying at a jungle lodge within a few minutes' drive of it. Cusco's Alejandro Velasco Astete (CUZ) is just 3.75 miles (6 km) south of Cusco: allow 30 minutes to reach the city center from here after arriving.
Duration: 10 hours
Puerto Maldonado's Terminal Terrestre is 3.75 miles (6 km) northwest of the city center, and from here buses run along the Carretera Interocéanica (Trans-oceanic Highway) via Quince Mil southwest to Cusco. There are numerous departures to Cusco, but in the evening and early morning only.
This is by far the cheapest, but also the least comfortable option. It is mostly used by locals, and there is generally a half-hour stop in Quince Mil.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 9-10 hours
There is nothing to stop you from hiring a car and driver to take you on this journey. The advantage is that journey time might be slightly less than travel by bus. Private transfers are rarely used, however. Costs would work out the same as flying and lack of demand means a dearth of suitable drivers and vehicles for this route.