The Chicken Buses of Central America

Central America is where American school buses go to retire. In the balmy tropical climes of places like Guatemala and Honduras, they’re given a new, colorful lease on life.

Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Painted
Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Painted
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Filed Under: Guatemala

North Africa and the Middle East is where old Mercedes cars have their afterlife. And Central America is where American school buses go to retire. In the balmy tropical climes of places like Guatemala and Honduras, they’re given a new lease on life. Their engines are removed and replaced with beefier truck engines that handle the mountains better. And they get a colorful new custom paint job over that distinctive National School Bus Glossy Yellow (yes, it’s an official color mandated by American law).

Once refitted, they’re let loose on the roads of Central America’s wild west of mass transit. Privately owned, they run specific routes. You pay by the mile. You might end up with a neighbor’s chicken on your lap. And they don’t slow down for much–definitely not for those pesky speed bumps and potholes.

Chicken buses station in Antigua, Guatemala
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Three Chicken Buses in Antigua
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Open Door
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Row of Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Girl in Window
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Leaving
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala American Eagle
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Embarking
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Central American Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Angel Bonnet
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Loading
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Yellow Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala
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Two Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Red Front
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Front Left
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Fronts
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Painted Sign
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Blue and White
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Rain
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Chicken Buses Antigua Guatemala Red White and Blue
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Brightly painted chicken buses in Antigua, Guatemala
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Chicken Bus station in Antigua, Guatemala
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Chicken bus in Chichicastengo
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Chicken Buse in Antigua, Guatemala
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Colorful Chicken Buses in Antigua, Guatemala
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Old yellow school bus in Antigua, Guatemala
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Red chicken bus in Antigua, Guatemala
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

Where to Next?



Travel Advice for Guatemala

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Guatemala (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information for Guatemala . You can find the British Government's here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Guatemala here.

by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »