Have you seen Top Gear Bolivia? Where guys drove up to Guallatiri volcano in Chile and gave up at 5240 meters (17191 ft) above the sea level? So we took the challenge and went there too! It turned out that Top Gear wasn’t honest – they said that they did a shortcut to Chile through that high altitude, but this road was not a shortcut at all. It was a dead end and simply ended at 5240 meters! They just couldn’t drive further up. We also couldn’t… but found something better.
Night at 4700 m
We spent the next night on the national park guards car park at 4700 meters (15419 ft). It was really windy over the night, the car was shaking and it was crazy cold, -20 C. High altitude didn’t help either… Generally, it is said that you can stay at high altitudes during the day, but should spend a night at lower altitudes. We didn’t, so had an altitude sickness: a huge headache that didn’t allow us to sleep.
Road to heaven
In the early morning, we crossed the border with Bolivia in a hurry. We really wanted to be a little bit lower.. But, as always, we suddenly changed plans when saw a gravel road off the main road leading to volcanoes located opposite to the previous volcano! A quick check of the map and found that they’re almost as high as Guallatiri!! “What if this road goes higher? Let’s go!” – we have forgotten about headache and made a quick decision.
There were some old ”gates” on our gravel route made of chains and logs. We didn’t see anybody around, so sneaked in and drove through. 😀 We got ourself on the slopes of the volcano Acotango. It all looked like an abandoned sulfur mine. In some places, the ground was as bright as snow and reflection of the sun was burning our eyes out. Views like from sci-fi movie! But the road went higher and higher. The higher we went, the worse the road became…
We are breaking Top Gear record!
We broke the Top Gear record easily and it wasn’t enough for us so we carried on rolling up the hill. When we reached about 5500 meters (18044 ft) above the sea level the route became a little bit more dangerous: very narrow with unstable, loose ground hold together by ice. We started thinking about turning back. Anna panicked and didn’t want to go any further, but Chev he is a daredevil or just silly, who knows?!
Toyota at 5666 metres
We drove to 5666 meters (18589 ft) above the sea level!!! It was the highest possible point we could drive up to, because the road was ending there. We turned off the engine with a hesitation and a little bit of curiosity: “Will it start again?”. Just in case, the way down was easier, Anna could push the car back! 😉
Check out how our Toyota 4Runner coped with the high altitude!