Border Crossing Bolivia to Chile (Hito Cajon – San Pedro de Atacama)
This was one of the easiest crossings we have done to date. However there are a couple of things to be aware of that can really sting you.
Hito Cajon – Aduana
The first thing to realise is that Bolivian Aduana is around 80km from the actual border right in the middle of the nowhere. Its actually sited at over 5000m so will be many peoples highest driven point in their South American travels. Its also hidden away behind a guarded barrier in a processing plant.
The guy at the guide quickly lets you in once you tell him that you want Aduana.. You can pull up right by the door – probably in a howling gale.
It may take a bit of knocking on the door (which will be locked) to get someone to come open up – but keep trying.
Once You are in it’s a very quick process. You had over your Temporary Import Permit and the customs guy checks it to his computer. He then prints out a couple of forms stamps them and you sign and then you get one copy and you’re free to go.
It doesn’t matter if you spend a couple of days getting to the actual border.
Shortly after leaving the Eduardo Avaroa park you come to a barrier across the road which is the actual Bolivian border post.
There is a small inhostpitable looking building – and when arrived it was locked. After banging on the door we were let into to a small room.
Inside were a police man and an immigration guy. The immigration guy took our passports and then showed us a piece of paper which said, in English, that there was a B15 charge each for leaving the country.
Well we weren’t sure if this was a scam or not so we went on the offensive and refused to pay. After a short argument, in which the policeman joined in, he dropped the charge, stamped our passports and we were d the one.
We got back in the Beast and drove up to the barrier. The policeman came rushing out and lifted it and we were through.
Chile – San Pedro de Atacama
The Chile border post is actually another 40km down the road at one end of San Pedro de Atacama. It can be really busy but we were lucky that it was deserted when we arrived.
First stop was Migracion where we had to fill out an entry form but this was easy and our passports were stamped with 90 days straight away.
At the other end of the building is Aduana and this was simple too. A quick form to fill out, hand over your registration documents and we were issued with our TIP straight away.
However at this point you fill out a customs form related to what you are bringing into the country. It is really important to tick the Yes box relating to illegal food. If you do this any foods found that are not allowed in Chile will be confiscated but no fine levied.
The real problem with crossing the border into Chile is the restrictions on food. The officals from SAG will search your vehicle and will decide what to confiscate. Uncooked meat, fruit and vegetables are there main targets, although they will also take things like Honey as well.
The search of our truck was pretty cursory although the SAG woman did go through the fridge thoroughly. We lost avocados and onions but we’d eaten all our meat.
Once the inspection is done you are in Chile and free to go. These guys can really take most of your food if they are in a bad mood though !