We are currently in Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
We have been in Bolivia for approximately four weeks having entered from Chile at the border crossing by San Pedro de Atacama (ie the ‘south west circuit’)
I drive a British registered right hand drive iveco. The aduanna at entry raised no questions what so ever about the vehicle and the few police / military road checks we have had, again have not raised any question about the ‘legality’ of our RHD vehicle. It’s been no problem.
Last year our friends entered Bolivia three times, each at a different border and they too had no issues with their RHD Mercedes.
The confusion I believe can come from the particular country’s regulations regarding permanent import of a vehicle as opposed to temporary tourist import which is obviously what we are doing.
We have once had difficulty entering Chile because of the RHD, however, as we had already entered Chile seven times (according to their computer) it was difficult for the aduanna to actually stop us from entering.
What we try to do at all borders is park the vehicle slightly out of sight of the paperwork issuing officer this then avoids any ‘questions’.
FUEL. Bolivia has a reputation for being difficult to obtain fuel and an ‘excessive’ tax is applied even if you can find fuel.
Bolivia buys it’s fuel from Brazil. It’s standard pump price for diesel is almost 10 bolvianoes that equates to about 1 UK £ or US$1.35 per litre. That is equivalent to Chilean price and about 10% above Argentinas price.
However, the Bolivian government heavily subsidizes the price their citizens have to pay. Currently diesel is about 1/3 that price at approx 3.27 per litre.
Fuel stations ‘officially’ should only sell foreign vehicles fuel if they are equipped with a pump configured for the ‘tourist price’. Therefore, depending on the integrity of the station staff certain stations will refuse to sell fuel, their concern is often because their boss may find out or even worse the authorities.
However, not all station staff are so concerned and consequently they will sell fuel at a negotiated price, obviously then pocketing the difference for themselves.
We have been refused fuel 3 times since being here. We have bought fuel 5 times. Of those 5 occasions we have paid 5 bolivianos per litre and the first time we paid 6.
In our last twelve months of travel it was more of an issue finding fuel in Argentina than here.
SECURITY. The general population, including police checks, officials, army etc have all been curious, courteous and indeed very pleasant and helpful. However, we did wander far from the beaten path one evening and found ourselves wild camping in very remote location. Unfortunately of the 15 or so people we saw that evening the last family were not too pleasant, in fact quite demanding and slightly intimidating. Insisting we should be paying them money for not just parking there but to ensure our evenings safety ! In my opinion we were not in any real danger, threatened slightly yes and certainly an unpleasant experience. Resolution was found after about 20 minutes of debating by us just starting the vehicle and driving away to ultimately camp further in those same hills without any problems.
We have been travelling through Bolivia at an interesting time, there has been lots of social protests and a certain amount of civil unrest with numerous roadblocks closing highways for days on end. However, this has been because of the national census which has just taken place and the indigenous peoples anxiety at the perceived undermining of their status. It has been an interesting time and though we have been close to the action we have not felt in any way uncomfortable about all this.
I hope this can put peoples mind at rest if they may be considering travelling to here.