Day 24: Caceres (Brazil) to San Matias (Bolivia) – The Border Crossing Challenge

Not everyone is corrupt in the Americas. Meeting nice soldiers from the border at San Matias in Bolivia

I still had to organize some cash in order to survive the first couple of days in Bolivia. I heard many stories that ATM’s are scarce and so I was trying to withdraw some Reals in Caceres which I could exchange later on in Bolivia. After the second bank and 4 credit cards later I finally succeeded. If this was already a pain in the neck, I don’t want to know how “easy” it would be in Bolivia…

Policia Federal

I had to get my exit stamp from the Policia Federal in Caceres, which was pretty close by to my hotel. The police officer could amazingly speak English and we had some interesting talks about traveling adventures before I received my passport back with the advice to visit the local Receita Federal to check the bike procedure for the crossing into Bolivia. It turned out that I had to go to the Receita Federal at the border and not to the one in Caceres.

After packing my stuff I left the hotel but not without saying thank you to the hotel manager Luiiz, who invited me for dinner the previous evening. I was sad to leave Brazil and the amazing people living in this country.

Arriving at the border I followed the signs and thought I would have made it already into Bolivia, just to get stopped by a soldier and his machine gun, telling me politely to get off the army camp, lol. I made a wrong turn and visited the Brazilian army… haha. What a faux pas! I was glad they were talking and not shooting ?

Following this time the right direction I got stopped by the first check point of Brazil and had to show my passport and motorbike documents. Not only the registration papers but also a strangely white one which I don’t even know what it is. I guess, the tax bill, lol.

Receita Federal

After the first check point, they sent me to the Receita Federal where I learned that only foreign motorbikes need to be evaluated and that I was perfectly fine with my Brazilian one.

After some pictures with the guys, I continued to the health quarantine inspection. Luckily they just waived me through and I continued my border crossing adventure. Funnily, I thought these guys would be Bolivians and I tried to speak already Spanish to them. GRACIAS. ADIOS AND DOS CERVEZAS POR FAVOR, LOL.

Shortly thereafter, I reached the real Bolivian border and got checked by the Bolivian army, where I kindly asked them to pose for one of my pictures which they gladly accepted.

One meter behind the Brazilian border I realized only too well that I was suddenly in Bolivia. The road got very messy and sand made a navigation of my bike pretty difficult.

Immigration office

I had to find the immigration office in San Matias. I passed a white police building and got suspicious. This must be also the immigration office, just like in Brazil and returned with success. They took my personal information, took a picture and gave me my highly desired entry stamp. They even recorded the entry date to my full satisfaction 🙂


Thereafter, I needed to find the Adouana, where I was supposed to get my bike registered in Bolivia. After a while I managed to ask me through and finally found the building at the exit of the town, where nice people where asking me for my photocopies. Of course, I had non and so I had to find a photocopy shop in town in order to make copies of my passport, the entry stamp and the bike documents. Having said and done, I returned to the Adouana where I received my registration letter.

The procedure was not too difficult but it took a decent amount of time. Reaching San Ignacio over a 300 km dirt road would take me another whole day and I had no choice but to stay in San Matias.

I found a gas station opposite the Adouana and decided to fill up my tank as well as both of my gasoline containers. It turned out that I had to pay as an international vehicle holder double the price. I first thought this is a joke but it was sad reality. A guy offered me to come to his home in order to get a better price for fuel he just recently bought. I kindly refused and accepted the immoral offer. In the end it was a good decision since people tend to dilute the gas with water, I only found out later.

San Matias is a small town with a nasty reputation for drug trafficking and a high crime rate. Everyone in Brazil told me to be careful in Bolivia and that crime and theft is a serious business due to the poverty (funnily, in Bolivia people told me exactly the opposite of the Brazilians, lol).

Interestingly enough, the whole town came to the gas station… not with vehicles only… but with plenty of large barrels to fill them up. Apparently, San Matias just recently received a new load of the liquid gold and people bought spare gas for “hard times”, just to sell it a bit more expensive to gringos like me.

In the evening I went to the local feira to experience my first country rodeo. Wild western style, people were dressing up like cowboys and -girls and tough guys were trying to ride the meanest bulls of San Matias. It was a nice experience but I was also happy to be early in bed.

I was full of doubt if I should make it already tomorrow to San Ignacio. I still had my wet laundry outside hanging on a leash and I doubted that it would be completely dry over night. I wanted to make a decision the next day…

Buenas noche!