Navigating Nicaragua on Chicken Buses

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Navigating Nicaragua on Chicken Buses


If you plan on traveling Nicaragua on a budget, learning how to use the chicken buses is going to be essential. One tool that we found very helpful on our travels is the website While this is a great resource to see if you can get between two cities on the bus, it doesn’t really tell you what to expect while you’re on the bus. We’ve been traveling Central America, mostly Nicaragua, for a year now relying solely on the chicken buses to get around. We may not be experts, but we’ve learned a whole lot along the way.

The first thing we realized, the hard way, is that almost every city we’ve been to has had multiple bus stations, depending on which city you’re heading to. In order to get to the correct city, you need to know which bus station your bus departs from. In some towns, such as San Juan del Sur, there isn’t even a station, just a stretch of road where the bus normally sits and waits. Finding where to get on your bus can prove more hectic than the trip itself. Luckily, once you’re in the vicinity of the bus you can usually hear the bus drivers assistant yelling out the name of the destination city. The first few times we hopped on a bus with our full backpacks, the assistant would take our bags and disappear with them, either on to the roof, or to tuck them away in the back of the bus. While it can be a little unnerving to have your bags disappear like that, we’ve never had any problems with theft. Now, your personal bag, with your passport, electronics, and money, is best kept on your lap, assuming it’s not too big. While we’ve never encountered any problems on a bus, we’ve heard a few stories about people putting their bags on the rack above them, only to find them missing at the end of the trip. Best to be safe and not sorry.


Once you’ve found your bus, and have your bags safely put away, find a seat and stay there. Seats are a luxury on these buses, and there’s nothing worse than standing in the isle for a 2-3 hour bus ride. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Once you get moving the assistant will come through and collect the money. Prices differ for each bus depending on the length of the trip, but you can expect to pay around $1usd for every hour traveled. If your plan is to get from one coast to the other, you can expect to get on about 4 different buses, and pay less than $10. I can’t even get across town in the states for less than that.

Once your fee has been collected, and you’re on you way, you can expect many, many stops to be made. People will be getting on and off at multiple stops in between each city. Along with picking up passengers your driver is also going to pick up an assortment of vendors. We’ve seen people come on the bus selling; popcorn, soda pop, fried chicken dinners, enchiladas, vitamins, homemade juices, razors, and even clothing. If you get a chance see if you can find someone selling jugo de cacao. It’s a delicious drink made with milk, sugar, water, and crushed cacao seeds. Very refreshing while sitting on a hot, crowded bus.


So, if you find yourself in Central America, and are looking to get around from town to town, skip the expensive taxis and private buses and travel like the locals do. You won’t be saving any time, but you’ll save a whole lot of money.


Navigating Nicaragua on Chicken Buses

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