Peru to Chile by Car – I AM Family South America Trip

When we entered Peru last year, we received a 6 month visa, the maximum for a tourist in a year. I AM FAMILY Kombi project including Lollipop restoration lasted for another 8 months. We experienced loss of hope, tears, anger and verbal fights with Peruvian mechanics (which are terrible by the way!).


So here we are in Peru, in Tacna (near the Chilean border), with Lollipop, so f…g exhausted after 800 km of dirty roads, snow, high altitude, lack of oxygen, desert and extreme sun. We booked 2 nights at a nice hotel with hot shower and the best internet and we prepared our nervous system for the customs experience. In the morning of leaving the hotel we revised all the papers we needed: passports checked, car papers including insurance checked, pets’ passports including rabies vaccination and internal and external disinfection checked. 30 km from Tacna to customs, 1 hour drive! The landscape till the borders with Chile is creepy, just desert and poverty, strange small concrete buildings and tents with black covers blowing in the wind.

After 2 hours of waiting, the Peruvian authorities were denying our exit for exceeding the visa permit with 8 months! We were kind of expecting all the trouble and we already knew about 1$ / person / for every day exceeding the visa permit but what we hoped was just the adults to pay. The big surprise wasn’t that the kids should also pay the tax, but the increasing to 1.3$, which summed to a small fortune in the end. Which were our options? Going back to Tacna, waiting for the next day to go to Emigration Office and try to apply for reducing the tax by exonerating the minor children. 30 km back to Tacna, 1 hour drive, 1 night of booking at the same hotel.


The next morning we went to the Emigration Office and we talked to the authorities. The good news was that YES, we could receive the approval just for the adults to pay the tax. The bad news is that we had to go to Police so that they should investigate the situation. After that, Police would send a report to the Emigration Office, then the Emigration Office should send their report to Lima and ask a request for decreasing the tax and the minors not to pay.  How fast would all this process be? Not earlier than 1 month and not more than 3 months! Are you kidding me?!!! Another 3 months in Peru, adding another 1.3$/adult/day, renting a house in Tacna and waiting for the answer to be positive. After some simple math, this option was more expensive than paying the tax for all five.


The next day, 30 km to border, 1 hour drive! With all the papers in order and the receipt for the paid fine, we were waiting to cross the border. After 5 hours, we crossed the Peruvian border!

Another 2 hours and we are crossing the border with Chile. Yuppies! I looked on the stamps on the passports. I was so happy! So I was waiting with the kids on Chilean land for Gabi to cross also with Lollipop, Oscar and Becka. Big surprise! Gabi was blocked by the authorities from Chile. Oscar and Becka didn’t have “Health Certificate”. No way in, no way out! C’mon, this was a NIGHTMARE!


Went back to the border with Peru asking for “a gentlemen agreement”. After another hour waiting the answer was NO. The solution was to go back to Tacna, stay another night, and go to a vet with the “mascotas”. No, no, please not again! I was almost crying with frustration! We left the children in the car with Becka and Oscar at the Peruvian border and went to Chile by foot, trying to solve the issue with them. At the customs, guess what? We had just made a crime. We didn’t have the stamp of leaving Chile, so on paper we were on Chilean land but physically the children were in Peru… and the parents in Chile! What a mess! No way out, no way in!


After hours of despair, we went back to the Peruvian border. All passports were full of stamps of entering and leaving the borders, the authorities were lost in papers and bureaucracy, Lollipop had been double checked for drugs and fruits. We were asked to take everything out from the car two times… Are you nuts?!


Tacna, you already know… 30 km… 1 hour drive. Booking the same hotel, next day go to the vet, two times because the doctor wasn’t able to fill in the certificate with all the data. One day was not enough to solve everything. So after two extra days in Tacna, we finally succeed to cross the border to Chile! Yuppy!


That night we camped on the beach, next to another 2 combies in the beautiful Arica town, Chile!

P.S. a week before Tacna, we were in Desaguadero (one of the ugliest and most dangerous (they said) places in Peru) heading for the border with Bolivia when we received a message from a couple of Kombi travelers with the advice to reach Bolivia through Chile, because it is easier with the papers for the car. They were right! Thank you, Luna and Pedro!

Thank you so much, Giovanni Iglesias and crew from the Chile customs! We were so well attended.

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  • Christel
    Posted at 07:01h, 29 May Reply

    Beautiful family…..love you!!!!

  • Daniela
    Posted at 20:44h, 30 May Reply

    Courageous family, so happy for you that you managed to enter Chile. Waiting for your next stories:)

  • Dana Ghiban
    Posted at 13:01h, 11 February Reply

    How do you find all this strength to deal with all these absurd challenges …i know this is the world.. but still.. Congratulations!

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