Car Travel

It takes confidence and a thick skin to drive in Bolivian cities, courage to use the big highways between them, and special 4x4 skills to manage the smaller roads; in most cases, it’s easier to use public transport or hire a taxi. In the city, drive defensively and assume that vehicles around you are going to do the stupidest thing possible, especially at traffic lights. Before driving outside the city, inquire about the conditions around your proposed destination. Most roads are unpaved and poorly maintained. During the rainy season many are subject to flash floods and landslides, so prepare for long delays. If you can, hire a driver familiar with the area so that you can enjoy the scenery without frazzling your nerves. Avoid driving at night outside built-up areas, especially on the highways–it’s terrifying.

Renting a car can be very expensive in Bolivia, particularly because you need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach many destinations. The rate for a four-wheel-drive vehicle is $500–$800 USD per week. Compact cars suitable for short trips cost $250–$350 USD per week. The minimum age for most car rentals in Bolivia is 25 years. You need a passport, driver’s license (some rental companies require an International Driver’s License), and a credit card.

The national oil company, YPFB, maintains service stations on most major roads. Many are open 24 hours a day and gas is cheap, approximately $1.80 USD per gallon. Away from the main roads, "Gasolina" signs alert you to private homes where fuel is sold (make sure they filter the gasoline for impurities when they fill your tank). Unleaded gasoline is available at some service stations.

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