Chile

This page will include everything north of Patagonia in Chile. For the Patagonian region, click here.

Border: Hijo Canyon, Bolivia – San Pedro, Chile

Don’t forget to stop at the remote Aduanas office inside the Park at the Boric acid plant to hand over your vehicle papers!!!

Bolivia Side – Hijo Canyon

  • Go to Aduana office, turn in permit (S22 26.454 W67 48.357)
  • Drive to immigration (S22 52.860 W67 47.901)
  • Stamp out. New requirement at this border is a Bs fee of 15-20 pp for maintenance of the border.

Chile Side – Drive 30 minutes to San Pedro

  • Go to immigration, fill out tourist card. They will enter info into computer and hand passports and copy of tourist card.
  • Go to aduana’s. Give registration and driver’s passport (they will not need copies). They will give you a vehicle permit.
  • Across the street is the declaration building. Need to fill out forms declaring stuff. If you have any eggs, milk, cheese, vegetables, you need to say yes on form. They will search your car and if you said no, it is a $200 US fee if you have anything that you did not declare.

We were never asked to present proof of Chilean insurance at either border or during our time in the country, but it is obligatory. You can easily and cheaply purchase it online here: http://www.magallanes.cl/venta/index.aspx?key=k66cl3

Our Route

Chile Tips

  • Be careful entering Chile. They will hijack you for your food at every border! Sometimes they take your cheese and vegetables, other times they’ll take your meat and dairy. The best thing to do if you’re like us and carry a lot of food with you is to stop before the border and hide it. Do this at your own discretion though – if you were to get caught they claim there is a $200 fine. We hid our food in a backpack way under the bed and left a few things in the fridge on purpose, claimed them on the form, and let them confiscate it. Worked fine.
  • Copec truck stops/gas stations are excellent places to camp free if you’re on a major highway. They have bathrooms, showers, security, free wifi, and sinks for water and dishes.
  • We were randomly pulled over and had our van searched by drug dogs, this would be a bad country to drive around in with anything.
  • The limit for drinking and driving is so low in Chile that you essentially cannot even have one drink.
  • There are a lot of campgrounds in Chile’s cities, but they’re expensive. We found stealth camping or camping at Copec stations saved us a great deal of money.
  • Gas is also really expensive.

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Bolivia

Border: Yungay, Peru – Copacabana, Bolivia

Yungay is the easier, more relaxed, more scenic border crossing from Peru into Bolivia. Both towns are on Lake Titicaca and shouldn’t be missed!

Peru Side

  • Drive up to the chain across the road and park.
  • Go to the police office just to the right of immigration. An official will stamp your card.
  • Go to immigration building for stamp and they will keep the tourist card.
  • Go to white aduana building across the street and hand over permit.

Bolivia Side

  • Park before gate after arch.
  • Fill out 2 forms of paper work at immigration. Need a passport and a copy, completed tourist card, and completed visa form, and $135 (for Americans). They scanned our passports and we did not need passport photos.
  • Official will place visa sticker and stamp.
  • Aduana’s (left of immigration) needs original and copy of: passport, registration/title to issue a permit.
  • When leaving Copacabana a police officer will stop you and write information in a ledger, stamp permit, and charge Bs 20 for a piaje.

Our Route

Bolivia Tips

  • Gassing up is tricky if you’re not from Bolivia. The international price is about triple what locals pay. Tell the attendant you don’t need a receipt and negotiate for a price between 5 – 7 Bolivianos per liter. We gassed up at 5 once, 6 twice, and 7 twice. Like anything in Latin America, the better your Spanish is and the more you argue the better you’ll do. Tell them that you paid 5 here yesterday and that your friends did as well. Also, hit the smaller stations on the outskirts when possible – they’re much more likely to sell to you if there’s fewer attendants, no bosses around, and fewer other patrons.
  • The roads are rough on vehicles. Take your time on the wash board to save your suspension and not rattle your rig apart.
  • Bolivia is in the process of constructing a nice, modern paved highway between Oruro and Uyuni. It is not complete and the road through is currently littered with detours and construction. If you’re not heading to Potosi or Sucre it’s doable. Careful if it rains, the entire thing becomes a mud slog.
  • Don’t hand over original documents to the cops if you can avoid it. Use copies, especially of your license – the first cop we gave my license to wanted 200B to give it back. We eventually got it back and told him he could have 20B or nothing and were on our way. More arguing and demanding an official ticket would have eventually prevailed we think, but for less than 3 dollars US we preferred to just be on our way.
  • Bring lots of sunscreen!
  • Enjoy your time at the Oberland Hotel if you camp there, it’s the last good wifi for the country and the llama steaks in the restaraunt are excellent!

Salar Tips and GPS

  • The main entrance to Salar (north of Uyuni about 12-16k) had several deep sections of brine and water. We had to pick and choose which spots to drive through versus around. We pretty much skirted the main water by driving around the whole mess on the right. If you’re unsure, wait for a land cruiser or two to come by with tourists and watch them. Great way to judge where to go and not to go. After that, it’s easy and perfect.
  • The touristy Isla Incahuasi might be worth driving by or stopping at for a beer, but if you’re camping on the Salar and have your own rig you’ll want to head to the awesome Isla Pescado.
  • We paid 50 Bolivianos at the very last building on the Southwest corner of town (near the gas station) for a car wash and fumigation (light coating of used motor oil on the undercarriage). Don’t skip this step when you’re done with the Salar. Salt is no bueno for your rig.
  • The gas station on the Eastern side of town gave us the best price (6B) despite it being the busiest and the boss hanging around.

Salar GPS Waypoints (gpx file download at bottom of page)

  • Eastern Entrance to Salar, -20.3162166670, -66.9808833330
  • Isla Incahausi, -20.2411666670, -67.6275833330
  • Isla Pescado – Free Campsite, -20.1390950000, -67.8105260000
  • Salt Hotel, -20.3304666670, -67.0467000000

Southwest Circuit Tips and GPS

  • We did this in our old van without 4X4.
  • San Cristobal did have gas, however, they had no electricity to pump it with. Bring all you need. They sell 30 liter plastic gas jugs in Uyuni for 50 Bolivianos if you need to bring a bit more than usual with you. That said, it wasn’t as long of a drive as I had read in other blogs. We made it to the thermal springs easily before dumping in our cans and jugs (and we get pretty bad fuel economy). We arrived in San Pedro with well over half a tank left.
  • You can buy water, candy bars, and beer at the thermal springs in a pinch.
  • We did the easier of the tracks through the circuit. It involves hanging a left at Villa Alota with an immediate, fairly deep water crossing but easily manageable with a little speed.
  • After that, there is a right hand turn that is the shorter way to the park entrance before Laguna Colorado.
  • The roads were never bad in a four wheeling sense, but after San Cristobal there was almost constant, bad washboard and some spots with sand. Also, you’ll be driving to elevations upward of 16,500 feet where you’ll definitely lack normal engine power.
  • DO NOT FORGET TO STOP AT ADUANAS 80KM PRIOR TO BORDER. You have to hand in your import papers for your vehicle there.

SW Circuit GPS Waypoints (gpx file download at bottom of page)

  • San Christobal Fuel, -21.1570000000, -67.1683333330
  • Villa Alota, -21.4039833330, -67.5978666670, Turn S to Villa Mar and at Villa Mar turn SW for the easier way into the park
  • Turn for Park Entrance, -21.7707158697, -67.4635720253
  • National Park Entrance Station (North), -22.0573499457, -67.6033544540
  • Canyon Free Campsite, -22.2929380000, -67.7815280000
  • Turn for Customs, -22.4248000000, -67.7737666670
  • BOLIVIA CUSTOMS!!!, -22.4409000000, -67.8059500000
  • Sol de Manana Geyser, -22.4354333330, -67.7571833330
  • Hot Spring – Free Camp, -22.5355833330, -67.6494500000
  • Dali’s Rocks, -22.6235780000, -67.6710410000
  • Laguna Verde, -22.7866666670, -67.8202166670
  • National Park Entrance Station (South), -22.8312666670, -67.7789166670
  • Border Crossing – Bolivian Immigration, -22.8793380000, -67.7966880000
  • Back on the Asphalt, -22.9206371487, -67.8071737289
  • Chile Immigration/Aduana, -22.9110333330, -68.1937666670

Salar and Southwest Circuit GPX File Download

Click to download – Salar and SW Circuit Waypoints

(Views: 309)

The Mega Drive

Adventure driving at its finest is about the only way I can describe what we’ve been up to since our last post in Ecuador. After a gorgeous sunset, a full body massage at the spa in Vilcabamba (which is its own funny story…) and a few stimulating games of giant chess, we set out into the unknown in a big way. What would follow was over 1000 kilometers of dirt, mud, landslides, water crossings, bush camping, remote border crossings, construction, fog, rain and more taking us from the Amazon to the Andes to the Peruvian desert to the Pacific Ocean. I think we truly found the middle of nowhere during this adventure and couldn’t be happier with the Craggin’ Wagon’s ability to bring us through it all. Read More

(Views: 510)

Peru

Border: Zumba, Ecuador – Peru

We drove from Vilcabamba south to Zumba and crossed at the more remote of the Peruvian borders. It was pretty gnarly driving in the dry season, I can’t even imagine how it would go in the rainy season. Plan on 2-3 days of adventure driving in the middle of nowhere before reaching Chachapoyas.

Ecuador Side

  • Several buildings, each labeled, in a row on the left before bridge.  First one is Aduanas, park right in front.
  • Need copies and originals of registration/title, license, vehicle permit.  (If you don’t have a copy of vehicle permit before border there is a copy place on the Peru side.)
  • Aduana’s will stamp the vehicle out.
  • Migracion next, for our stamps.  You should have an entry paper with you to hand over from the Ecuador entry.

Peru Side

  • Cross the bridge and park before gate on bridge.
  • Go to Migracion, which is the 3rd building on the left.  Fill out the form they give you, both parts.  (They will want your whole name on the form, anything that is included in your passport.)  There is a money amount that you are planning on spending.  They did not require us to fill this part out. If they do require you to fill this out, we have heard the amount you claim can dictate the number of days you can stay.
  • Walk left and down a gravel road to police building to have them validate everything.  He will enter stuff from passport into computer and stamp the form that they gave you.
  • Return to Migracion for passport stamp.  Keep exit portion of paper for exit out of the Peru.
  • Go back to first building that you are parked in front of for Aduanas.  You will need original and copy of registration/title, driver’s license, driver’s passport.
  • He will check plates, VIN number, and look in vehicle.  Then he will type a bunch of information into the computer and give you a vehicle permit.
  • Fill out another sheet of information with your email address and thumbprint. They keep with a copy of your permit.

We ran into at least 15 water crossings, some mud stretches that we could not have slowed or stopped in without getting stuck, and a lot of construction clearing numerous landslides and other things. The border was very chill though. We had been given the wrong information on our paperwork by the northern Ecuadorian border.  For some reason they had us exiting the same border we entered. Also you should be given an a slip of paperwork that you filled out at the northern border, they did not give us this. So the immigration office was very confused. However, everyone was very nice and worked everything out with us.

We had seen other blogs mention that insurance is mandatory, but nobody has mentioned it to us.  None is offered at the border. We’ve been stopped several times and were not required to show it during paperwork checks either. According to Life Remotely, if you have a valid insurance policy in your home country, this can count as well. As a precaution I printed the law Life Remotely quoted on their site and my insurance from home an keep it with our vehicle paperwork.

Our Route

Peru Tips

  • Driving from Zumba to San Ignacio is a pretty long drive after a border crossing due to dirt roads and twisty mountains. We stayed in Jaen at a hostel right as we got into town. Right next to hostel Diamond. The place we stayed at only charged 25S and had secure parking.
  • Instead of going all the way to Chachapoyas, we should have stopped prior at the city of Gocta for the large waterfall (we had to backtrack from Chachapoyas to see it). Here there is a nice lodge and plenty of places to park. Ticket entrance for the hike is 10S per person. The rules do say you need a guide but we just started to follow people down the road and went for the very obvious hike without one as many other people did.
  • You could skip Chachapoyas by staying at the Gocta Falls and then driving straight to the Kuelap ruins and camping there before the long, long drive to Cajamarca.
  • Kuelap ruins is 70-80 km from Chachapoyas. We camped for free after paying the admission fee to the ruins. The people there directed our car to be under the lights. The bathrooms at the office are locked at night. Entrance fee was S. 15 pp.
  • Huanchaco is the place to go if you want to surf or be by the sea. Overlanders can get electricity and camping at a place called Haunchaco Gardens and RV park. Fee is 20S per person. You get showers, bathrooms, a great chill spot, good WIFI, and electricity is 2 extra soles.  We then moved to camp in front of another excellent hostel in the same town called La Gringa owned by a gal named Julia from Kansas. You can camp on the beach or parked in front of her hostel and use services as well. It was S.15 for both of us per day. Also hit up Surf Burger for a proper US style burger. You get a burger with whatever you want on it, including bacon and eggs, french fries (that are awesome), a shot of whatever alcohol he has on hand, and a soda; all for S.15. The guy is from New York and is a biker as well, so here is a shout out for him!

Salkantay & Machu Picchu Tips

  • The Inka trail requires booking in advance, the Salkantay can easily be booked when you arrive.
  • Machu Picchu + Huayana requires booking a few weeks in advance, Machu Picchu + MP Mountain can be booked when you arrive.
  • The Salkantay could be done self supported a lot easier than we initially thought. Each camp is at a little town, more or less, with tiendas selling basic snacks and drinks. This would significantly reduce pack weight not needing 3-5 days worth of food up front.
  • To shorten the Salkantay but not miss the best parts, take transports all the way to Soraypampa, spend the night there, and hike the pass to Chaullay on day 1. From here you can take transports all the way to Hydroelectrica if you desire. Personally, I would continue hiking from Chaullay to Playa or Santa Teresa on day 2 – there’s a nice trail. From there you’re on the main road to Hydroelectrica, hike or transport.
  • If you do hike the entire thing, stay an extra day in Aguas Calientes and book your MP ticket for the following day – you’ll have more fun at Machu Picchu if you’re not exhausted and your legs are fresh. Plus, Aguas Calientes is a pretty unique town to see.
  • For details of our experience, photos, and stats, see our two part blog post: Salkantay & Machu Picchu.

(Views: 313)

Mexico

Border: USA – Tiajuana, Mexico

  • Be careful not to just drive right through, they will often wave you through and ask for nothing if you have American plates.
  • Pull over where they check peoples cars and get your passport stamped in the building. You can change money here too.
  • You can import your vehicle here if you like or wait till the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan. Cost is approx. $200, returned to you once you successfully export it out of the country.
  • You’ll need to stop somewhere before you cross into the Baja Sur and purchase mandatory insurance for the country.

Our Route

USA and The Baja


View Larger Map

Mainland


View Larger Map

Mexico Tips

Coming soon…

(Views: 361)