2.5 Bolivia Waterways Assessment

Bolivia Waterways Assessment

Bolivia Waterways


GLCSC LCA BOLIVIA Matriz Costo Transporte Fluvial 140930

For information on Bolivia waterways contact details, please see the following link:

4.4 Bolivia Port and Waterways Company Contact List

River Network System in the North West

The river network in this region is formed by rivers that connect with important populations in the area and international bonding points. The navigable rivers in the river network reach lengths close to 5,000 km, consisting of the following sections:

  • Ríos Ichilo, Mamoré and Tributarios 2.023 Kms.
  • Ríos Beni, Madre de Dios, Orthon and Tributarios 2.688 Kms
  • TOTAL 4.711 Km

The corridor formed by the Ichilo - Mamore - Itenez rivers enables the connection of the northern region of the country with the highway system through Puerto Villarroel in Cochabamba. Among the important towns connected there are:

  • Trinidad, capital of departamento of Beni
  • Guayaramerín, border town located at the northern end of the department of  Beni.

Both towns are important centers of production in the region where there is a significant flow of goods and people.

The river system Beni - Madre de Dios - Orthon (West of the Mamoré River) helps to connect the city of Riberalta (Northern part of Beni Department) with the highway system in Rurrenabaque (La Paz).

System of Paraguay River

The Paraguay River represents a very important connection for the foreign trade of the eastern region of the country, mainly by the large volumes of agricultural products. This system allows the connection with the ports of the Atlantic (Buenos Aires, Rosario, Nueva Palmira). It has an approximate length of 2771 Km.

This system, which is shared by five countries — Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, has acquired significance for Bolivia at the beginning of the 1990s, due to the demand for larger volumes of cargo to be exported.

Access to this river today is via the Tamengo channel implying restrictions on permanent navigation, as well as the situation of dependency which means traversing a section which is located in Brazilian territory.

A solution to these disadvantage would be the construction of Puerto Busch connecting it with the so-called Punta Man Cesped, which would give Bolivia access to the waters of the Paraguay River.

The waterway can be divided into 5 stages: i) from Cáceres to Corumbá/Puerto Aguirre (Puerto Aguirre is where Bolivia peeps to Paraguay River); ii) from Puerto Aguirre to the Apa River, which is the border between Brasil and Paraguay; iii) from Apa River to Asunción; iv) from Asunción to Santa Fe, and v) finally from Santa Fe to Nueva Palmira and later the Río de la Plata,

The waterway by sectors:

  • Section Puerto Cáceres – Corumba 672 KM, Section CORUMBA – APA River 603 KM, Section Río APA – Asunción 537 KM
  • Section Asunción – Santa Fe 1.040 KM, Section Santa Fe - Nueva Palmira Buenos Aires 590 KM, Total WATERWAT Length 3.442 KM

 The majority of goods transported by HPP are commodities, i.e. grains, cereal, wood, etc..

The main goods transported: grains 31,5 %, cereal 18,2 %, wood 17,7 %, heavy loads 12,3 %, fertilizers 9,4 %, Liquid fuel 6,7 %, gas fuels%.

Bolivian Ports

Bolivia in the stretch of the Paraguay River owns the following ports: a) Central Aguirre, located at Tamengo7 channel at 2 Kms from Puerto Quijarro, b) Puerto Tamengo or Gravetal , c) Puerto Busch, in the Man Césped corridor, which is innactive and d) Puerto Suárez, at Cáceres Lagoon, abandoned due to waterlogging.

External Ports

Bolivia has Access to the following external ports: i) Puerto de Rosario in Argentina, ii) Puerto Casado and Villeta in Paraguay, and, iii) Puerto Montevideo in Uruguay.

Puerto de Rosario, en 1969 Bolivia is granted the use of this port and also a free area of 54.667 m2 with the right to explote a Free zone in this place, where Bolivia can assign its own customs agents to dispense trade in transit (Orias, 2000). However this port has been little used and Bolivia has not worked in maintenance, equipment and operation of the springs, as stipulated in the agreement with the Argentina. Today, at this point the Bolivian goods in transit are transferred to or from the wagons of the train that connects to Santa Cruz.

Puerto Casado and Villeta, in the Peace Treaty of 1938 between Bolivia and Paraguay settles that Paraguay guarantees free transit through its territory and especially in the areas of Puerto Casado, with the right for Bolivia to install its customs agencies and build reservoirs and warehouses in the area of the port, also Paraguay has awarded the Villeta port - 37 km from Asunción - warehouse and storage area for the Bolivian load in transit.

Puerto Montevideo, Bolivia has access to the use of free zones of Nueva Palmira and Colonia and others that could be in Uruguayan territory, for traffic, storage, handling and fractionation of goods and raw materials of Bolivian origin destined for Uruguay, as well as the free use of a warehouse in the port of Montevideo (see Orias, 2000).

Zona Franca Puerto Aguirre, the first Bolivina port with sovereign sea coast through the waterway Paraguay Paraná, allows Bolivian export and import activities to be competitive from and to the world markets.  It connects by land with Santa Cruz and by paved road with the interior of Brazil (Campo Grande, San Pablo, Paranagua, etc.). The airports of Puerto Suárez (Bolivia) and Corumbá (Brasil), both are at 10 km. from the Free Zone of Puerto Aguirre; they offer air transport services for passengers and cargo with daily Jet airplane flights.

Port for Containers and General Cargo:

  • Crane with a capacity for 150 tons
  • 4500 m2 of warehouses.
  • 1,5 linear kms  railway detour
  • Parking lot for Containers.


  • Export of containers 20 and 40 feet
  • Import of containers 20 and 40 feet
  • Reexpediciones to third countries.
  • Reexpediciones to interior Free Zones
  • Storage of goods

Port for Grains and Oil:

  • Conic Silo with a capacity for 18500 tons.
  • Horizontal Silo with a capacitay for 22000 tons.
  • Integral Network with conveyor belts.
  • Firefighting Network
  • Unloading capacity of trucks 160 tons/hour (6 trucks).
  • Unloading capacity of railroad wineries 200 tons/hour(5  wineries).
  • Unloading capacity of railway tanks 150 m³/hour (4 tanks railway).
  • Loading capacity of grain barges 450 tons/hour (6 barges per day).
  • Loading capacity of oil barges 200 tons/hour (3 barges per day).
  • 3 linear kms of rail turnouts.
  • Road Access.


  • Export of grain and soybean flour.
  • Export of soybean and sunflower oil.
  • Import of wheat.

Company Information

In the stretch, Ichilo - Mamore tributaries, there are unions of general freight transport, with special boats with flatbeds with maximum capacity of 4,000 quintals. The transport of passengers is not regulated, nor the carriage of liquids (fuels), whose fleet is comprised of private tanker vessels, with a capacity of approximately 40,000 liters.  They do not transport passengers because of the danger that that represents.

In the Beni River - Madre de Dios - Orthon stretch and tributaries, there are no private transportation companies, since it is a non-regulated stretch, heavily influenced by the weather. Practically it is navigable only between the months of November to February. In low water period, transport of goods is done by land

Passenger Carrying Capacity





Number of

Passenger Vessels

< 20 pax

Transport of passengers

is not regulated


Travel Time Matrix












3 days

4.5 days

8.5 days


4 days


1.5 days

5.5 days



6.0 days

1.5 days


4.0 days


10.0 days

7.0 days

5.0 days


NOTE: Travel Time changes depending if the journey is downstream or upstream

Key Routes



From: Trinidad

To: Guayaramerin

From: Puerto Aguirre (BO)

To:Puerto Villeta (PY)

Total Distance (km)

1,100 km

2,770 Km

Width (m):



Highly variable, not regulated, modified by climatic seasonality.

Between December and March, greater width and depth, so the meanders are lost and the route is more direct

Very variable in the cannel of Puerto Aguirre (Bolivia) to Corumba (Brasil), with 100 meters wide, which in some sections due to its rocky bed morphology is reduced up to 45 meters.

There is no dredging agreement in the Bolivian-Parguayan section.

River Flow

(m³ / second)



Seasonal Affects

Very marked mostly between May and November, where the draught is reduced arising from sandbanks and Palisades

Very marked during the dry seasons, the draught is below 6 feet, making it impossible to transport large barges that can move up to 12,000 TM by convoy

Maximum Weight and

Size of Vessels

Only barges with the following characteristics:

Length = 30 to 60 mtr

Beam = 10 a 12 mtr

Strut= 3.5 a 4.5 mtr

Draught min = 2.4 a 3.5 mtr

Propulsion = 3x1000 a 3x1800 HP

Crew = 8 to10 people

Barges of timber with the following characteristics:

Length = 40 mtr

Width = 26 mtr

Draught  min = 1.2 mtr

Propulsion = 1x400 HP

Regular Traffic

Passenger / Cargo

Yes, with caution during the dry seasons and reduction of cargo transportation, with the alternative of doing so by road in a shorter time

Yes, with caution during the dry seasons and noticeable decrease in transport of load, up to 60%

Companies Operating

Along the Route

Unipersonal general cargo companies and fuel transportation unions.

Private companies in export of grains and minerals of iron and manganese

Security Concerns

(Yes / No)

There are no signs on the way

Not in the Bolivian stretch and with little signs in the Paraguayan stretch

Main Ports

There are only load and unload areas, which do not have a load assistance team, nor storage areas

Puerto Aguirre (Bolivia), with all loading services

Puerto Villeta (Paraguay), with all loading and shipping services.

Port Information


Aguirre Port

Villeta Port


Aguirre Port

Villeta, 37 km de Asuncion Paraguay

Contact Information

Aduana Nacional de Bolivia - Customs

Administración Nacional de Navegacion y Puertos/National Administration of Navigation and Ports- ANNP


Connections with other

transport means


Train to Santa Cruz

By land to Santa Cruz

By River to Rosario Argentina and Rosario Argentina

Storage Capacity

(square meters and cubic meters)

4,500 m2  

20,000 m3  

Handling Equipment

A 150-ton crane

3 cranes of 12 Tn each

Customs Clearance Available

(Yes / No)



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