The fastest but still not too expensive way to get around Peru’s cities is via taxi or motocar, the three-wheeled canopied bikes that buzz around cities in the jungle and the coast (not Lima, though). The typical fare for in-city travel is US$0.40–1 for a motocar and US$1.50–5 for a taxi.
Assaults on taxi passengers can be a problem in Cusco, Lima, and Peru’s other tourist hot spots. The best way to avoid this is to have your hostel call for a taxi or to flag down only registered taxis on the street. Avoid young, suspicious-looking drivers and beat-up cars with tinted windows and broken door handles. When traveling, sit on the backseat diagonally opposite the driver’s.
Bargaining is an essential skill for anyone taking a taxi, because taxis in Peru do not use meters. Know approximately what the fare should be and stand somewhere where your taxi driver can pull over without holding up traffic. Always negotiate the fare before getting in the car. A typical bargaining conversation would start with you asking: “¿Cuánto cuesta a Barranco?” (or wherever you’re going); the taxi driver replies, “Ocho soles.” You bargain with, “No, seis pues,” and so on. You get the picture. If you can’t get the fare you want, wave the driver on and wait for the next taxi. Have in mind that rates can rise during rush hours and the evenings.
Private drivers can also be hired for the hour or day, or for a long-distance trip. The fee can often start at US$7 per hour hour and go up to US$60–70 for all day. Ask at your hotel for recommended drivers.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition