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What is a Chiva? Transportation in the Galapagos

If you know some Spanish, you might be surprised when you hear that you will be traveling by chiva to some of the excursions in the Galapagos. A chiva is, after all, Spanish for a female goat. But no worries – you won’t be riding a goat on your trip to the Galapagos.

These open sided buses are common throughout Ecuador and beyond – including Columbia and Central America. In many mainland small towns, the chiva is a primary means of transport and they are colorfully decorated with slogans. But the chivas we saw in the Galapagos were pretty low key (see the pictures below).

On Floreana Island, which is pretty isolated, we saw two different chivas – one picked us up at the dock and another one took us on the excursion up the mountain. We saw these buses on every island we visited.

Chivas: Part of the Adventure

The chivas in use in the Galapagos are beefy, rugged vehicles made to transport people over rough terrain – which is a necessity in the Galapagos.  They have bench seating and hold approximately 20 people. Because of the open sides, they actually are great for taking pictures and seeing the landscape. You might imagine that the wind could be a problem, but it never goes fast enough to create much moving air. Because the roads can be a little rough, the drivers we had drove slow for a more comfortable ride.

There are storage areas on the roof and (on some) the back for putting a backpack or wet snorkel gear.

Its no simple feat to get large buses delivered to remote islands in the middle of the Pacific. It was actually a little weird for us, to be arriving by boat to the sparsely populated island of Floreana and to have a big bus waiting to drive us to the lodge.

We really enjoyed the ride – especially because of the open sides that let us see our surroundings better – it really added to our Galapagos experience.


Thats me in the drivers seat ... but I'm just a poser.




The chivas in use in the Galapagos are beefy, rugged vehicles made to transport people over rough terrain – which is a necessity in the Galapagos.

About the author: Bryan Haines Hi, I’m Bryan Haines! I’m a traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I’m a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I am co-founder of Click Like This a photo tutorial blog.

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