Diesel costs 3.72 bolivianos (around 42 eurocent, March ’13).
Bad Diesel (2007)
We took in diesel in Tarija, Tupiza and Uyuni, in between there were no gas stations. We filled up twice at the YPF gas station in Tupiza and on both occasions noticed an inordinate fuel consumption afterward (only time that has happened in South America thus far).
Fill up Your Spare Fuel Tank for Sud Lipez (2008)
Between San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and Uyuni (about 450 kilometers), there is no petrol nor diesel available. If lucky you may be able to purchase it in San Christobal, about halfway, but don’t count on it.
Two-Tier Pricing System for Cars with Foreign License Plate (2013)
We had read about it in journals from other overlanders during the past year and now have been confronted with it ourselves: the two-tier pricing system for fuel. From what we understand it works as follows:
- Locals pay the price mentioned on the machine. March ’13: 3,72 bolivianos per liter diesel
- Vehicles with foreign license plate pay another. March ’13: 9,48 bolivianos per liter diesel.
Theory vs Reality
There is a whole registration system around it which means – according to the official version – you get two receipts: one is the regular fill-up receipt and the second accounts for the extra price you paid. The attendant needs to fill out the second form that includes your ID info from your passport and such.
After two months in Bolivia we haven’t encountered this official system yet. Instead:
- Some say they don’t have the papers to do it the official way.
- Some say their boss doesn’t allow selling to drivers with foreign license plates (for whatever reason).
- Some attendants like to help us but say they can’t because their gas station has cameras.
- We can sometimes buy diesel for the local price.
- We can sometimes negotiate a price in between the local and foreign price (say 5 bolivianos), but obviously won’t get a receipt.
- We could buy a fuel bag (3 bolivianos) and fill it with diesel.
- We could fill up our jerry cans. Sometimes we had to leave the gas station before filling up, however, sometimes we could then fill the tank on the spot ourselves with the jerry can (how ridiculous can it get)…
Story on Filling Jerry Cans (bidons) or Fuel Drums with Fuel
Little by little we are learning about Bolivia’s laws in this respect. Based on what we have been told in various regions, we think that this is how it works:
- In border areas filling up jerry cans with gasoline as well as diesel is strictly prohibited and enforcement apparently is strong. This, we have been told, has to do with smuggling to the surrounding countries where fuel prices are higher.
- In and around Cochabamba filling up jerry cans with gasoline is prohibited, but diesel is not. This has to do with cocaine production, for which gasoline is needed. Whether this rule only applies to cocaine-producing regions like Chapara (Cochabamba) and the Yungas or elsewhere as well, we don’t know.
Jesuit Mission Route (east of Santa Cruz, Jan ’13): No problems whatsoever. We either paid the local price, negotiated 5 bolivianos and once filled up the jerrycans.
Santa Cruz (Jan ’13): No problem filling up for the local price.
Cochabamba (Mar ’13). Along the main road no gas station wanted to sell us diesel. Most of them didn’t care about any system. It was simply ‘no’. Downtown same story until one suggested to buy a diesel bag, which is a time-consuming version.
At last we found one gas station in one of Cochabamba’s surrounding towns where we could fill up for the local price. The only condition was that Coen had to hand over his international driver’s license of which the number was entered in a computer. So that may be a trick to try: registration according to your international driver’s license.
Tiwanaku (Mar ’13). Impossible to get diesel. We tried all gas stations between Tiwanaku and El Alto but couldn’t get diesel anywhere (regular tank nor jerry cans).
La Paz (Mar ’13). Thus far we found one: The petrol station north (east) of La Paz when coming from Coroico, just before the toll gate (tranca) of Urujara on your left side. We could only fill up our regular tank and paid 5 bolivianos per liter diesel (GPS waypoint: -16.42889, -68.07104).
Of course we’d love to hear your stories and creative solutions on the subject. Feel free to share them in the comments below.