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The Colorful Chicken Bus

The Chicken Bus, a true way of life in Guatemala

Life in Guatemala is quite complex. It offers such beauty in so many different ways. One of the ways that Guatemalans show their beauty is through their colorful artwork on their chicken buses.

Chicken buses are one of the most used modes of transportation in Guatemala. You may ask, how did they get their name chicken bus? Well the name came from the fact that rural Guatemalans’ transport their chickens, other small farm animals and their vegetables to market by old American school busses that are redone and painted elaborate colors.

Travel by chicken bus is quite the adventure. They are not at all comfortable to ride on, the suspension is very stiff and usually no air conditioning. They travel very slow going uphill (which most of Guatemala is mountainous) and going downhill is very fast. Hopefully the bus you are riding on has good brakes. Most of the buses run at overfull capacity and usually one or two people hanging on the back of the bus for a free ride. No real laws in Guatemala for the chicken bus.

I would recommend not riding a chicken bus in or out of Guatemala City (The Capitol) and I do not recommend riding one around Guatemala City either. Chicken bus riding is not safe in Guatemala City or the surrounding communities. The safest place I would recommend riding on a chicken bus is around Antigua. I have personally road on chicken buses around Antigua and the surrounding communities. I have never felt unsafe and the cost is extremely reasonable. From stop to stop it was around one to two quetzal. Don’t get hooked by the gringo tax, keep an eye on what everyone else is paying and do the same.

No trip to Guatemala is complete until you have walked in the shoes of a true Guatemalan and rode on a chicken bus.