Travel in Peru can be quite a headache if not approached with the right mindset. Public transportation is the most efficient means of travel. One can hop a bus and for less than 10 soles travel 6 hours North -to Cajamarca- for example. The only thing a successful trip up the coast requires is a good grasp of the wonderful world of Micros, Minivans, Autos and Collectivos. Each option of travel serves its own purpose, and every Peruvian has their personal preference of travel. I proudly claim the Micro as my means of transportation.
To begin, think of the bus routes as split between inner city and outer city travel.
Inner city transport consists of neon colored Micros, ratteling collectivos, and dodgy taxis. The bustling bevy revolves around Ovalos roundabouts. So long as you have a good grasp of which Ovalo is closest to your destination, Micros and Collectivos are smooth sailing and will save you Soles. While a Taxi will cost anywhere from 5 to 10 Soles, the Micro is 1 Sol – each ride.
Each is about the size of a school bus and travels routes throughout the city. The loud colors signal their destination, the letters in the window tell which route they will take to get there. Beware of the newer modeled Micros, their quicker acceleration and tighter breaks leaving you more slung and sore with each frequent stop.
A 15 passenger van which takes the same route as the micro. It gleans and sweeps up those who either missed the last option, or could not fit. However never pass up a Micro in hopes of finding more space on the next. Remember, it is a business, and both the driver and the cobrador will make the most of their motor and four wheels.
The difference between the two? The size of the sardine can – aka the number of people you will be pressed into.
A lesser known means of travel which will cost you 10 soles maximo, and will get you there in less time than the larger more cumbersome greyhound.
A greyhound sized bus, you show up to an agency office and purchase your ticket. This is the most secure option for those traveling out of town. Depending on the distance, these will cost upwards of 70 soles.
Have patience, depending on the day, your trip may differ by 20 to 30 minutes. There is no bus schedule, nor bus stop for that matter, so enjoy the leisure of simply stepping into the street and waving your hand for curb side service.
The Micro never late, nor is it early, it arrives precisely when it means to.