Top Gear 14.6

Who doesn’t enjoy a good road trip? I love them. And, as it turns out, so do the boys on Top Gear. They have been on road trips to the Arctic Circle, across the American South and even across Africa. This past week, they showed their latest trip, traversing through the Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountains and a desert in South America. The scenery was spectacular and the places that Clarkson, May and Hammond went were just as awe inspiring.

Frankly, I’m not up on my South American geography. If it doesn’t happen at the end of the F1 season in Brazil, then I don’t know if it really happens; or exists for that matter. But South America is so huge that there is more to the place than just a race. For starters, there is the Amazon rainforest and the Amazon River. As the show started, the boys were being rafted down the Amazon toward their drop off point. They then got off the boat and had to wait for their vehicles to arrive. These they bought off the Internet, so had never seen them in person. All were told to get four-wheel drive vehicles and so Hammond bought a Toyota FJ, James May got himself a little Suzuki SJ, while Clarkson went for something undeniable British and picked up a Range Rover. The vehicles then showed up on the shore next to them, where they found that May’s was a different color, Hammond’s didn’t start, and Clarkson’s had a different engine in it. They then took a bunch of time to get off the boat and made their way through the rainforest, and back toward civilization.

I will skip ahead a bit here and say that the boys had a big feat ahead of them to try and negotiate what is considered to be the most dangerous road in the world. It runs from La Paz toward the coast and is literally a one lane dirt track that is supposed to house two lanes of traffic. However, the dangerous part comes from the fact that the road has no guard rails and runs along the edge of a cliff that features shear cliffs that drop hundreds of feet to the ground below. If that weren’t bad enough, the road isn’t limited to just cars. Buses and large trucks frequent the road, and drive at incredible speeds. You know that Clarkson comes out the other side alive, but there is still a nail-bitingly tense moment in the show that really should be seen to be believed.

The boys then ventured to heights that they never imagined they would ever get to in their lives by trying to cross the Andes in their cars. However, as they got up into the 17,000 foot range, they found that their lungs, and their vehicle’s engines, began to not work. There was so little oxygen up at that height that they had to turn around before they all passed out from the lack of air. After chickening out and turning around, they kept heading toward Chile and the Pacific Ocean. On their way, they went through a desert where it has never rained and nothing, not even bacteria, can survive there. They also had to descend a huge mountain of sand that stood a couple of thousand feet high just to reach the end. However, Hammond jumped out of his vehicle and it ended up being destroyed. So James and Jeremy finished the journey and found that the Range Rover, considered to be probably the most unreliable car in the world, was actually the right vehicle for the job.

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