Days 167-168: The Art of buying gas in Bolivia

Days: 167-168  -   Date: 7-8FEB14  -   Itinerary: La Paz to Oruro to Potosi, BO  -   Miles: 340

Buying gas in Bolivia can be a serious pain in the ass. Recently Bolivia introduced regulations on gas for foreign vehicles. Foreigners are charged 3x the local subsidized price to keep neighboring countries from buying cheap gas and driving back home. The result is that some stations simply refuse sell gas to any foreign plated vehicle; regardless of the price.

This is because selling gas to a foreigner is supposed to involve a lot of paperwork.. which in turn leads to some ridiculous excuses from lazy attendants who couldn’t be bothered with the process.


Lots of military/police checkpoints in Bolivia. I had one cop tell me I was doing 200 km/h and that I needed to slow down.. I’m pretty sure my motorbike can’t go that fast. 😆



I managed to finally find gas in a small town South of La Paz. By this time I was running on fumes, so I was glad I found a place to sell me gas. How much did they charge me? The local rate of only 3bs/liter! About $1.50/gallon. Awesome! I didn’t even have to negotiate or anything with him. Since I’ve been in Bolivia, I’ve heard a bunch of excuses ranging from:

  • “Sorry, we don’t have any gasoline” (when in reality they really do; other cars are filling up).
  • “Sorry, we don’t have a license to sell gas to foreigners.”
  • “Sorry, we don’t have international receipts.”
  • “Sorry, we can’t sell you gas, the security cameras are watching (I heard this a lot).
  • and straight up replies of “no, we will not sell you gas”..followed by shooing me away.

I’m writing this blog post nearly 2 weeks later, but since then, I’ve encountered everything from: refusal to sell me fuel, to being charged 3bs/liter (the local rate), to negotiating 5-6bs/liter, and paying the full foreign 9bs/liter rate. It just depends on the place and person.

In the central and South part of Bolivia, you can get away with negotiating (illegally) for gas at 5-6bs/liter without a receipt. The attendant pretends you’re a local Bolivian (3bs/liter rate) and the other 2-3bs/liter goes in his pocket. Whatever, it works for me. I just need gas and don’t really care what the price is.

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Riding up around 4300+ meters.. That’s over 14,000 feet! It’s cold and hard(er) to breather up here!
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Wrecked cars from crazy Bolivian drivers who went over the cliff.. I saw this scene a few times throughout Peru and Bolivia.


The intoduction of the world famous Dakar Rally has been fully embraced by Bolivians. They love it. There’s Dakar stickers and monuments/sculptures everywhere in Bolivia.

I made it into Potosi and had a late lunch which included a llama burger and the lightest beer I’ve ever drank before. I received a message from another ADVrider, Steve and 2 other Austrians, Andy and Juergen, who he had just met. They were also in Potosi for the night, so later on we all met up for a few more beers and to share ridiculous stories from our travels.

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