As Anthony Bourdain said:

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

What is the best way to see the country you have been to? Is it walking or a private car assigned for you? How about public transportation? We think the best way to see, better to feel a place is to use public transportation. We mean local, kind of primitive according to nowadays technology. You see what we are talking about right? Let’s see matatu and other public transportation vehicles!


Photo Credit: edition.cnn.com


Matatu’s origins can be traced back to 1960s, but it had growth between 1980s and 1990s. By 2000s, we started to see decorated matatus all over Kenya, right?

As you already know, matatus are our culture. It is like a legacy for a family; if the man of the house has a matatu, he hands down his matatu to his children. Each matatu has its own spirit.

Like Batman Matatu is known as the fastest matatu. Hulk Hogan Matatu is known as very careful on traffic and never had an accident. Transformers Bumblebee is known as high-tech matatu etc.

Each decorated matatu has its own community. Most people wait for their familiar driver and touts. Cause they rely on the driver to get where they wanted to be safe or they love the music genre he is playing. Maybe because of wifi or a movie playing on the tv on the bus.


Photo Credit: pinterest.ca

Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

Colectivos were invented back in the 1920s. They were not only used in Argentina but also used in Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. It looks like a kind of matatu but doesn’t have those legendary paintings on buses, those adventurous roads and doesn’t have that adrenalin booster music. Matatus are like a tradition, it feels like even technology grows and other much more economic and powerful public transportation vehicles were invented, matatus will still be on those roads. Anyway, seems like colectivos are the ones invented earlier but they are not on the roads anymore, matatus are still rocking it!


Photo Credit: hiveminer.com


Chiva means goat in Spanish. Those Chiva buses are adapted for rural life, considering mountains geography. People also call Chiva as Escalera bus, which means a bus that has a ladder and stairs. As you see in the photo, rural people use Chivas mostly to carry their goods with them. It was very useful back then cause people didn’t have their own cars. Now, their quality of life has increased and they use jeepao to carry only the goods over the mountains.


Photo Credit: ambassadehaitivenezuela.org


Tap-taps are very similar to Matatu. They have a fixed route a to b points, won’t leave until filled passengers and unlikely these beautiful features, if you are in a tap tap and on your way to somewhere, the rider can disembark you at any point he wanted to. Because of that, many countries inform their citizens who travel to Haiti not to use tap tap. Some things are better if they used only by local people, right?


Photo Credit: worldnomads.com


Do you know how chickens are transferred from somewhere to another? This name comes from it actually. Imagine the chickens on a truck, crammed back there; now imagine an old American school bus filled with people sitting and standing with their goods. Yes, this is the chicken bus.

In the Latin Americas various countries, they use the chicken bus but purchase and sale mostly made in Guatemala. Lots of Latin American people go to America for these buses auctions. Americans disuse school buses after 10 years after the bus gets to 150.000 km then they put those buses to auction.

They are often family business and usually staffed by two people. A driver is to drive and ayudante is to shout out and collect the fare. Those buses pass through suburbs and drivers mostly pay to suburban a transition fee. This is a must, ayudante has to pay that fee.


Photo Credit: streetcouch.com


Everybody calls them ‘red devils’ cause before the 2000s, there was not much choice for transportation. If you had money, you could get a taxi or your own car, but tourists and citizens who couldn’t effort that much money used Diablo Rojos. Those Diablo Rojo drivers neither pay attention to traffic rules nor traffic lights or other cars and pedestrians. After 2000, the government tried to ban Diablo Rojos from traffic but citizens of Panama City protest them. They are still on the roads and drivers trying to be much nicer in traffic, hopefully.


Photo Credit: foremost.ca


Think about ice-skating; you can’t even stand properly on ice. So, how could you even walk in Athabaska Glacier while you can’t even stand on ice? You would probably use your high-tech boots but going long distance, terra bus is made for you. It has giant wheels and a huge body and carry to 56 people at once. They look so powerful but they can only make 10-25 miles per hour.


Photo Credit: mymodernmet.com


Do you hear the sound of chains hanging from the bumpers of the truck? This is why they call them ‘jingle truck’. Unlikely previous buses, this jingle truck is to carry only goods. This is an art and a showdown for those who have any kind of truck. If you have a truck and carry goods for life, you have to show your power by decorating your truck as flashy as you can.


Photo Credit: stuff.co.nz


You know Japanese love technology; that brings games, videos, all the lights and sounds to the world. They love to have what they saw in a video game in real life. And as you see, those Dekotoras are not from real life; they look like coming from another world. Japanese are making those trucks only for show and they use them in movies or games.

Those buses aren’t comfortable and can be a little careless but that’s ok. They are old but glamorous, terrifying but exciting at the same time. If you don’t take a little risk, you can’t enjoy your life they say. Get your flight tickets from here and prepare for your next adventure.


That’s the end of our recommendations for the most colourful public transportations for now. Why not sign up for our weekly newsletter and be the first to take advantage of fast-selling fares to your favourite destinations? Click here to never miss the best travel deals.

Have something to say...