The Guatemalan Chicken Bus

There are different kinds of Guatemalan buses, but the most common is the “Chicken Bus.”


The Chicken Bus is very colorful. It is usually painted many different bright colors. It has an engine that sounds like a jet, and it usually leaves a big cloud of black smoke in it’s wake. Chicken buses have a rack on top to store transport cargo (bags, corn, chickens, you name it). Inside the bus, they will pack it as full of people as possible. Just when you think they cannot possibly fit one more person on, and your face is turning blue, they will manage to squeeze in ten more people some how. Although the seat/benches are only made for two passengers, they will usually squeeze in 3-4 people per bench. Whoever is sitting on the aisle seat, will usually have one cheek, or half of one cheek, on the seat seat, and the other cheek hanging off the seat. Inside a Guatemalan BusThe thing that keeps the passenger in the aisle seat from falling off is the person across the aisle in the other other aisle seat. He too has one cheek on the seat, and the two passengers in the aisle seat support each other up by pressing their shoulders up against each other. The other passengers who can’t find an available seat will stand in the aisle as well. Consequently, the aisle is completely consumed with passengers, all depending upon one another to stabilize them and hold each other up, like a giant Janga puzzle. This makes it extremely interesting when a passenger needs to get off the bus.

This is a depiction of what it looks like inside the bus.

PrimitiveImageSometimes when the bus is too full, you may see passengers riding on top of a chicken bus.

There is always a driver of the bus, and a “caller” who guatemala-2nd-022stands in the doorway of the bus collecting money from the passengers and who calls out the name of the bus destinations to people waiting on the side of the road/highway for a bus to take them somewhere.

MicroBuses are smaller buses that drive around the larger cities to take passengers to places within the city, such as the park, the market place, or the municipal building.

Oscar Perén (Guatemala) El terminal de buses

Here are some youtube videos to give you an idea of what Guatemalan Chicken Buses are like

Here is one of a bus helper securing cargo on top while the bus is driving 100mph

Bus terminal in Quetzaltenango (Xela):

Buses pass slow trucks on windy roads without know if another car or bus could be coming around the corner:                                   Notice the “caller” hanging out the door about half way through video, and notice the sound of the bus…it sounds like a tank.

Here is a good montage video:


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