The high pitched engine squealed by my bike and threw up dust as I bounced along one of Peru’s dusty roads. Although I could feel the breeze of the vehicle as it went by and was still spitting dust, I couldn’t help but smile at the mototaxi in all it’s colorful glory.
Traveling in Peru you may come to hate or love the three wheeled devices. A take off of their tuk-tuk cousins in Thailand and auto-rickshaws of India, mototaxis began to appear in the jungle areas of Peru in the 1980’s arriving mostly from India.
Should you have been in Lima in the 1990s you would have seen the arrival of the three wheeled motorcycles on steroids. Soon after the transportation trend spread along the Pacific coast of Peru and throughout the country.
How do I pick a Mototaxi ?
There are two types of mototaxis in Peru. The converted motorcycle with open bench in the back provides for an airy and more adventurous ride.
The smaller mototaxis, called trimovils, with a completely closed in cabin, give an illusion of security, as the tiny vehicles jostle for position on harrowing roads. You are protected from the rain I will say that.
The hybrid found commonly in Peru is the covered in bench style mototaxi. As if they are in the midst of mototaxi mating season, the brilliant display of colors and designs left me on the mototaxi hunt. Kind of like bird watching only much noisier and dustier.
It is not uncommon to hear a mototaxi be referred to as a bajaj. In actuality Bajaj is one of the manufacturers of trimovils. No matter what they are called I can assure you staying out of their way while on foot or bike is a Peruvian travel tip you should remember.
Where can I find a mototaxi?
There are no set routes in Peru for mototaxis. In some towns you will see them congregated together in the main square awaiting fares and in some cases there are actual mototaxi stops called paraderos.
Your best bet is to flag a mototaxi down as you would a taxi, however trust me when I say do not stand too far out on the street. If the driver already has a passenger then consider yourself just a bump on the road on the way to a destination.
What does a mototaxi cost in Peru?
The price of a ride is variable and should always be negotiated prior to getting in the vehicle. Riding a few blocks may be one sole ( $.35) or across town five soles. With more people, luggage, dogs, cats and bicycles expect the price to go up.
Safety in a mototaxi
The nurse in me cringed looking at mototaxis weaving through traffic in Peru. There are no seatbelts so hang on to anything that looks secure.
Use your common sense. If a mototaxi looks like the wheel is about to fall off don’t get in. If the driver appears inebriated, don’t get in. In larger cities there are other options for public transport that would afford you more protection in a collision.
If you do decide to try a mototaxi in Peru I suggest you keep your arms and legs in and hope the driver doesn’t hit the foreign cyclist.
Have you seen mototaxis or their cousins in your travels?