BORDER CROSSINGS -
We encountered no food restrictions on entering Bolivia and our vehicle was not searched but other overlanders report fruit restrictions are in place.
Visa’s are free and you should not be asked to pay for anything by the officials.
Hito Cajon - The passport/visa building was very friendly - no problems with corruption. The customs office is much further on (approx. 80km’s) S22.44055 W067.80579 It sits at an altitude of 5,028 metres, again, very friendly and easy - We were given a 3 month visa for us and a 3 month import paper for Nessie.
Approximately thirty kilometres after the passport office you will arrive at the park entrance office, there you have to pay a entrance fee of 150Bs per person.
Quijarro - Very easy and friendly border. No problems leaving and no money asked for by officials.
ROAD CONDITIONS and FUEL AVAILABILITY -
Hito Cajon to San Cristobal - A mix of good dirt routes with some stone sections and shallow water crossings. There is a fuel station in San Cristobal (240km’s from Hito Cajon).
San Cristobal to Uyuni - A rougher route with corrugations, potholes and some deep gravel. The fuel stations in Uyuni want to charge double price to fill your tank. If you fill a jerry can they will charge normal rate.
Uyuni to Potosi - A mix of gravel, asphalt and corrugations. Being upgraded May 2010. Potosi has fuel.
Potosi to Tarabuco via Sucre - Paved all the way! No fuel problems.
Tarabuco to Tomina to Villa Serrano - Mixed dirt and rough stone with some cobbled sections. Not too bad.
Villa Serrano to Vallegrande - A great mix of rarely used dirt tracks to rough stone sections and shallow water crossings. A wonderful drive that’s impossible in wet weather as large sections get washed away with rain or are deep with mud. Vallegrande has fuel.
Vallegrande to Conception via Santa Cruz - Paved with some potholes. No fuel problems.
Conception to San Jose de Chiquitos - Mix of good dirt to bumpy stone tracks. Fuel just before Villa Nuevo - can’t remember the village name S15.91033 W061.143275.
San Jose de Chiquitos to Quijarro - Lovely smooth concrete the whole way. Last fuel station is after Porto Suarez but the queues are HUGE, it’s better to fuel up in Porto Suarez town.
ROAD TOLLS -
We spent a total of 232Bs (£21.74) for this route. A note for truck drivers - every toll tries to charge you the 18T rate. Show your papers to prove your weight to pay the lower rate for up to 10T.
DRIVING LAWS -
No-one seems to care whether you wear a seatbelt or use headlights or not.
We had no problems with the police. There are document checkpoints at some of the toll booths.
Our insurance from Argentina covered this trip. No-one ever asked to see our insurance papers.
Everyone complains about the inaccurate maps for Bolivia. We used World Map on our GPS - it was not good. Our International Travel Map was also inaccurate in places but our Lonely Planet guide book was not too bad. Sometimes you just have to stop and ask people.
SHOPPING - Supermarkets can be found in Sucre, Santa Cruz and Porto Suarez elsewhere you can find most things in little shops and markets.
FUEL - Not the bargain you think it is. Our fuel consumption went up by 2 to 5 litres per 100 km’s during our trip. The fuel quality is not good and the high altitude plus rough roads probably didn’t help either.
Laguna Verde to Quijarro
May - June 2011
Places to camp
Some routes have few choices for bush camping, the roadsides have ditches that cannot be crossed or the land is fenced. This usually leaves you to park in the towns or villages, some are quiet but the town plazas can be incredibly noisy at weekends.
Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada - Lots of opportunities to camp all around this area.
Villa Mar - In the quiet village centre. Okay for one night. Cold. S21.75667 W067.48017
Uyuni - On the street near the Hotel Tonito. Army base nearby, quiet during the week. S20.46519 W066.82491
There are hot showers (10Bs) and a laundry just up the street at the Lavarap. Great street market in town.
NOTE - Get your truck washed after the Salar for 50 Bs at S20.46927 W66.81953 - very good wash.
You can camp on the Salar easily - Isla Incahuasi is a great spot to do this S20.24117 W67.62758.
Yura - A nice llama and donkey village. Very traditional and quiet. S20.04405 W066.16873
Potosi - Residencia Tarija - A secure courtyard with use of toilets and hot shower - 50Bs per night. If you have the Lonely Planet guide book, it is beside Hostal Santa Maria on Av. Serrudo. S19.58418 W065.75545
Sucre - Hostel Austria - A overlanders favourite but why we are not sure. To camp/park in the courtyard costs 100Bs yet to book a room with cable TV only costs 80Bs!! S19.03866 W065.24646 Okay but not great.
Serrano - A road side grassy area - very nice views and very quiet. S19.08129 W064.32585
Bridge - A area to pull off overlooking the sand banked river. Very nice. S18.72187 W64.31629
A local lives nearby and he is keen to buy produce from travellers, coco leaves especially. It would be nice to take something for him - he is very isolated.
Guadalupe - A grassy field after the village. Ok for one night. S18.67270 W064.12560
Samaipata - Finca Vispera - A gorgeous flower and hummingbird garden with superb kitchen and hot shower facilities. VERY expensive but lovely as a treat. 50Bs per person. S18.18839 W063.87952
El Fuerte - Nice grass area on the hilltop. S18.17696 W063.82105. Slippery mud descent if it rains!
Riverside - We saw this track leading down to a popular pretty riverside picnic area. GPS co-ordinate is approximate. S18.16867 W63.52920
La Guardia - Outside a police station - quiet. S17.85028 W063.24856
Santa Cruz - Outside the pilots club. Quiet with lots of police and army walking around for security. S17.79971 W063.17606
San Ramon - On private land by the roadside. We were tired so it was ok for a night! S16.68941 W062.53572
San Javier - In the lovely quiet grass plaza overlooking the church. S16.27463 W062.50485
Villa Nuevo - A tiny thatched village with a communal water pump and pigs. Very nice. S15.92795 W061.35768
Santa Ana - A very quiet and pretty grass plaza area by the church. A better place to stay than San Rafael! S16.58415 W60.68674
San Rafael - Nightmare noisy plaza. Do not stay!
San Jose de Chiquitos - Villa Chiquitana - owned by a lovely French overlander couple. Very, very nice.
US$4 a night per vehicle includes swimming pool, toilet, poolside shower and electric S17.85210 W060.74016
Santiago de Chiquitos - On the grassy, quiet plaza that’s patrolled by Military police during the night.
Or you can stay with Milton and Katherine, a Quaker family who make wonderful yoghurt on their farm. Very friendly and welcoming family with great views. Email them for details - firstname.lastname@example.org OR ask anyone in the village for Panarama (their ranch name).
Aguas Calientes - Fantastic natural hot water lake - really lovely. 5Bs per person to swim and 10Bs per person to camp includes cold showers, toilets and maybe electric. S18.44931 W059.51363 Busy at weekends.
There is a quieter campsite nearby called Miraflores, newly opened but the staff were unable to tell me costs.
Puerto Suarez - Park near the pier overlooking the water during the day but move to the park around the corner for to avoid being robbed and bombarded by parrot shit during the night! Police station opposite - very quiet. S18.96089 W057.79538 Municipal staff and army patrol at night.
SANTA CRUZ INFORMATION -
Being Bolivia’s biggest city, this is a great place to find things or to get work done on your vehicle. These are the co-ordinates of useful streets in the city.
AUTOPARTS - S17.80233 W63.19720 A very long main road full of shops selling car and truck parts.
TORNERIA - S17.81343 W63.18820 A street full of metal workers and welding shops.
SEAT REFURBISHMENT - S17.81549 W063.18335 This is Santa Cruz’s best and cheapest man. We had our double passenger seat re-padded for 70Bs (under £6).
HARDWARE - S17.78504 W063.15777 A huge hardware market selling everything you can imagine.
HIPERMAXI - S17.79460 W63.16037 The best stocked supermarket in town.
BUDGET NEWS - £21 a day : 29 days and 2,746 km’s.
Fuel costs - The price was 3.72 Bs per litre.
We spend £73 on sightseeing, that is included in our budget but truck maintenance costs are not.
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