Your Guatemala experience won’t be complete until you’ve traveled by 2nd class “chicken bus”. You’ll need one if going anywhere but “Guate” (short for Guatemala City). Here’s a guide to utilizing this truly chapín mode of transportation.
The 2nd class Minerva Terminal is in Zona 3 behind Minerva Market. To get there, take one of the many microbuses with aydante belting out “Terminal, hospital, Hiii-per” and alight when you spot the Minerva Temple up ahead with its Roman-style columns. Walk 5 minutes through the market to get to the herds of buses.
Here are approximate frequencies and operating hours for major destinations:
Cantel & Zunil - 15 mins., 6am-7pm Coatapeque and Mexico border at Tecún Umán - 10 mins., 5am-7pm
Guate & Antigua - 15 mins., 3am-5pm
(Change buses in Chimaltenango for Antigua.)
Huehuetenango - 15 mins., 4am-6pm
La Mesilla (border with Mexico in Huehuetenango department) departures at 7am-8am-10am-2:15pm Mazatenango - 15 mins. 5am-7pm
Panajachel - hourly, 9am-5pm Retalhuleu & Champerico - 10 mins., 4:30am-7:30pm
San Marcos - 15 mins., 4am-8pm (First-class buses from the company Marquense and 2nd-class buses both leave from terminal.) San Pedro la Laguna - 11:30am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 4pm & 5:30pm
Santa Cruz del Quiché - hourly, 8am-4:30pm
For some destinations you don’t necessarily need to go all the way out to the terminal. One of these stops might be more convenient:
1.) La Rotonda – at 7ª Avenida (Calzada Independencia) and Cuesta Blanca, Zona 2
Buses depart from La Rotonda for the Las Rosas district, Salcajá, Cuatro Caminos, San Francisco El Alto, Totonicapán, Cantel and upper Zunil, running every 10-30 minutes from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Pullman buses from Alamo, Galgos and Fuente del Norte pick up passengers here on the way to Guate, too, but (careful!) not Alamo’s express routes!
2.) Las Rosas – the main junction past La Rotonda at the far NE edge of Xela
The buses bound for the lowland cities of Retalhuleu, Champerico, Mazatenango and the border at Tecún Umán, after leaving the Minerva Terminal, swing past the junction at Las Rosas (see above for schedules). Note that these buses are typically quite full.
3.) Shell Station – behind Mercado Central at 9a Avenida and 10a Calle, Zona 1
Microbuses and larger buses leave here for Almolonga and lower Zunil from around 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Microbuses also run on holidays. You may also find a pick-up offering rides to Fuentes Georginas; if not, then in Almolonga or Zunil.