Once you’re in Peru, you will have to figure out how to use a taxi or collectivo. I found that getting around in Peru is really not that difficult at all … it all depends on quickly you want to get around and what level of comfort you want while you’re travelling.
Here are the 4 options that you’re going to have
- Private hotel shuttles or private driver:
This is the most expensive option. There is no need to ever use this option, unless your company is footing all your bills while travelling
- Renting a car
I DO NOT recommend this option, if you’re not from the region or have driving skills from the movie “Heat” or “Taken”
- Using public taxis
This is a good option, but it can become pricey depending on your negotiating skills. The good value is about using your time. If you’re on a time sensitive travel mission – then I wouldn’t bother with collectivos or buses, as the lowest cost isn’t your main objective. There is a safety factor in using these taxis though, unless it’s a radio taxi – so be cautious.
- Using a collectivo (shared bus)
For this Trinis, this is like a maxi-taxi, so you’ll be quite at home using this option. My caution is that like Trinidad, they operate different routes and you’ll have to find out which route they’re taking. Spanish will be super helpful here … so if you speak it, then you’ll be perfectly fine.
If you’re going to Machu Picchu, you have to go through Cusco – there is no other rationale way. My path involved getting to Urubamba first and relaxing at the Tambo del Inka. Getting a taxi was super easy and I had a number of missions to accomplish in Cusco before I could get to Urubamba. Here’s all that I had to get done … as a last minute Machu Picchu-er
- Buy a ticket to Machu Picchu (this was done at the Ministerio de Cultura)
- Change my train ticket at Perurail (The office is in Plaza de Armas)
- Make a reservation for a hotel in Cusco
- Actually negotiate a taxi from Cusco to Urubamba
Once you’re out of the airport, walk outside … do not take a taxi in the airport – you’ll get hit with much higher prices sometimes charging 2 or 3 times the normal rate. The moral of the story : Walk outside and negotiate (Anything between 40-70 soles for a taxi from Cusco to Urubamba seems to be a fair price … all depends on your ability to haggle, wait around and be inconvenienced)
Since I had extra steps to make, I ended up taking a taxi from the airport to Plaza de Armas (which is the center of Cusco) – it cost me 4 soles ($1.35USD) for a 10 minute ride. I tried to negotiate a price with my first driver, which turned out to be an epic fail. He offered me a price of 100 soles … which was ridiculous, I told him 50 soles … he shook his head and countered 80 soles … I shook my head and said no – he wasn’t giving me the price I wanted.
Once in Plaza de Armas, I found the Perurail office and my ticket was changed with no hassle. After the ticket changing, then I had to make a reservation at a hotel … I walked over to one, used their free Wi-Fi to price check them and negotiate them down from $120USD to $80USD a night. Finally, it was off to Urubamba, but I had no taxi.
I ended up having to flag five taxis before I found one that I was happy with. The final price ended up being 60 Soles ($22 USD), but his car was a regular sized Hyundai rather than some of those old “beat up” taxis. You must know that the trip is a long one though a maze of roads, so avoid small ‘Tico’ type taxis which are not the safest of vehicles in Peru – hence pay a little bit more for a larger vehicle. Many taxi drivers didn’t want to drive to Urubamba since it’s a long way to go. Here’s another reason to have a taxi rather than a collectivo – you can tell your taxi driver to stop anywhere you want to take pictures and on your way to Urubamba, there are lots of places to take pictures or even buy something.
There will many other stops – don’t be afraid to ask your driver to stop as many times as you want … I’ve found everyone to be very accommodating. As Urubamba is about an 60-75 mins from Cusco, you’ll pass through the agricultural landscape and you’ll see the plots of Quinoa – you can ask your driver to stop and check it out. Remember you’re paying them more than a local will pay them, so they’ll be happy to indulge you. Also, whether you’re a single person or three people … the cost will be the same. You’re not going to be charged per head. Don’t fall for the ripoff.
Here’s a couple pictures of the drive along the way …