Chickenbus in Guatemala

The Magical Chicken Buses in Guatemala

If you ever been to Guatemala and rode on one of the infamous chicken buses you know that it’s like no other public transportation system in the world. Some people think it is dangerous, terrifying, hair-raising, call-my-mommy-one-last-time-because-I-am-going-to die scary (which it can be), but we like to think of it as magical. Something like the T.V. show, “The Magical School Bus” but in real life.

So, why are the Chicken Buses so magical you ask? Well…

1. Let’s start with the obvious magic trick, the ability to turn old retired American school buses into pimped out, colorful, fast and cheap public transportation.

chicken_bus_guatemala-road_affair
Wondering if Xzibit came to Guatemala and hosted, “Pimp my Chicken Bus”?!?

2. There is no hill that a chicken bus can’t climb, after all they do use them as their personal racetrack.

3. You will discover fat on your body in places you never knew existed as every body part will jiggle. No boobs are exempted both big ones and tiny mosquito bite ones.

4. Passengers have mastered the art of jumping on and off a speeding bus with gracious ease.

5. There is no car, truck or bus it will not overtake with ease, even on narrow lanes with oncoming traffic.

6. Every and any empty stomach will be full before getting to their final destination. After all, vendors hop on and off every time the bus slows down. Banana bread or tamales anyone?

Tamales anyone?
Tamales anyone?

7. You are actually safer in a packed chicken bus than in an empty one. Who needs seat belts when you are so squished that you can barely move?

8. The helper collecting money can maneuver through non-existent spaces, taking any shape (just like water) to collect the fare from every single person on the bus. Hell, sometimes he even climbs on the roof of the speeding bus to collect money from passengers through the window.

9. The bus that just keeps filling! There is no such thing as maximum capacity, as the ratio to people entering and exiting the bus is 100:2

10. The driver has the magical ability to hear people requesting a stop through blasting music and the roaring sounds of the engine! We on the other hand can barley hear ourselves think.

11. The seats that were once meant to sit two little kids now sit four grown ass people uncomfortably.

Uncomfortably enjoying the ride
Uncomfortably enjoying the ride

12. Speed limits are for every other vehicle on the road except chicken buses. They like and do move at the speed of light.

13. In driving school we learned to slow down before entering a curve but chicken bus drivers must have missed that lesson! Their thought process is that if passengers are not holding on for dear life and fall from one seat to another they are taking the curve to slow. It‘s mind boggling that the bus doesn’t tip over.

14. One of the most magical thing about the chicken buses is, how you as a passenger can travel across country for hours and pay little to nothing! Budget traveler’s dream come true :)

Check out this hilarious video below to get a feel for how magical the chicken buses in Guatemala are. Dave pretty much sums up the whole chicken bus experience in his catchy song. Thanks for sharing Jon.

When you have all this magic happening on a chicken bus why would you ever take a tourist shuttle, or even a roller coaster for that matter? Who needs any of those when you can get the magic, the thrill, and the speed all for the price of almost nothing?!?

Have you ever been aboard one of the magical chicken buses?

The Author

Jazzy is a professional travel writer and the editor-in-chief at Road Affair. She has been traveling around the world with her partner in crime, Ben, since 2012.

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Comments

  1. THE RACISM AND SNEERING WILL NEVER GO AWAY
    why the derogatory
    term “chicken bus”..been on many Chivos and have never, ever seen a chicken on one

    OK to hate on/look down on people from

    outside the “first world”?

    1. Not really sure why you think the term chicken bus is offensive to anybody? We have seen chickens on the bus multiple times already, but I don’t think that is how “camionetas” (that’s what the locals call it) got their name anyways, so I don’t think it matters.

  2. Sadly, many people who visit Guatemala choose a more sanitzed way of getting around, either by choice or design.

    Chicken buses are iconic to travellers, and crucial to Guatemalans.

    El Salvador and Panama have colourful buses as well, but I will say without a doubt Guatemala provides the best bus experience.

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