Traveling South America by motorcycle has become so popular that now, you see riders on the Panamerican highway almost every single day. Locals are getting used to adventure motorcyclist becoming a big part of the tourism industry, and motorcycle rental and tour companies, parts and gear shops, and big adventure bike-savvy mechanics are cropping up everywhere from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego.
Fuel in South America is rarely a problem – even in the more remote Andean villages, donkeys and mules are being replaced by trucks and bikes, so fuel availability is usually very good. Here’s what you need to know about fuel in South America before you go.
Most of the time, if your range is at least 300km, you won’t have any issues finding fuel. Some of the roads in Patagonia are a little lonely, and there is one stretch in Argentina on the famous Ruta 40 where there are over 337km etween fuel stations. This is between Tres Lagos and Bajo Caracoles, so coming in from the south, make sure you fill up in Tres Lagos, and coming in from the North, do it in Bajo Caracoles (and get your Ruta 40 sticker!).
Most coastal and Andean routes will have good fuel availability in towns and villages. Even if you’re on a dirt trail, if there’s a village coming up, you’ll probably find fuel there.
Fuel in South America is usually decent quality, with 95 octane available at the majority of gas stations. 90 octane is OK quality too. If you’re buying fuel from people, not a gas station, you’ll probably be getting the 90.
Fuel in Bolivia
Bolivia has a strict policy where foreigners have to pay triple for gas. Don’t panic – it’s still very cheap, even if you’re paying the “gringo price”, but quite often, gas station attendants don’t want to sell fuel to foreigners because they don’t want the hassle of dealing with the paperwork. To get fuel in a situation like this, you can:
- Ask a local to buy it for you
- Park your bike away from the gas station and come back with a fuel canister. Not the mot convenient way, but doable.
- Ask the gas station attendant to sell you gas “sin factura” (“no invoice”). If they’re in a good mood, they’ll help you out!