Combis and Colectivos
The cheapest way to move around a major city like Lima, Cusco, Iquitos, Trujillo, Arequipa, or Chiclayo is by public transportation. There are buses, combis (imported Asian vans that dart along the roads), and colectivos (station wagons with room for five passengers). The buses are cheap but slow, combis are a bit faster but tend to be very cramped, and colectivos are the fastest of all.
Bus fares usually hover around US$0.40–0.60; colectivos are about twice that, but fares go up on weekends and evenings. You can tell where buses and combis are going by the sticker on the front windshield, not by what is painted on the side. Before you take public transportation, ask a local for specific directions to where you are going. It can be a fun, inexpensive way to travel around. To get off a bus or colectivo simply say “baja” (“getting off”) or “esquina” (“at the corner”). Fares are collected during the ride or right before you get off, by the cobrador or the man (seldom a woman) who also shouts out the route or destination the bus or combi is leading to, practically hanging out the bus door.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition