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Taxis

Taxis can be found anywhere at any time in almost every town. Any car can become a taxi simply by sticking a taxi sign up in the front window; a lot of people, especially in Lima, take advantage of this to supplement their income. Whenever you get into a taxi, always fix the price in advance since few of them have meters, even the really professional firms. In Lima, the minimum fare is S/3-4 - around $1 - but it's generally a bit cheaper elsewhere. Even relatively long taxi rides in Lima are likely to cost less than $10, except perhaps to and from the airport, which ranges from $15 to 25, depending on how far across the city you're going, how bad the traffic is, and how many passengers there are. Taxi drivers in Peru do not expect tips.

In many rural towns, you'll find small cars - mainly Korean Ticos and motorcycle rickshaws, known variously as mototaxis or motokars , vying for custom as taxis. The latter are always cheaper if slightly more dangerous and not that comfortable, especially if there's more than two of you or if you've got a lot of luggage.

Colectivos (shared taxis) are a very useful way of getting around that's peculiar to Peru. They connect all the coastal towns, and many of the larger centres in the mountains. Like the buses, many are ageing imports from the US - huge old Dodge Coronets with a picture of the Virgin Mary dangling from the rear-view mirror - though increasingly, fast new Japanese and Korean minibuses are running between the cities. Colectivos tend to be faster than the bus, though are often as much as twice the price. Most colectivo cars manage to squeeze in about six people plus the driver (3 in the front and 4 in the back), and can be found in the centre of a town or at major stopping-places along the main roads. If more than one is ready to leave it's worth bargaining a little, as the price is often negotiable. Colectivo minibuses , also known as combis , can squeeze in twice as many people, or often more.

In the cities, particularly in Lima, colectivos (especially colectivo minibuses) have an appalling reputation for safety . There are crashes reported in the Lima press every week, mostly caused by the highly competitive nature of the business. There are so many combis covering the same major arterial routes in Lima that they literally race each other to be the first to the next street corner. They frequently crash, turn over and knock down pedestrians. Equally dangerous is the fact that the driver is in such a hurry that he does not always wait for you to get in. If you're not careful he'll pull away while you've still got a foot on the pavement, putting you in serious danger of breaking a leg.



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