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The Andes – an imposing, dramatic mountain range that spans seven different countries and forms the backbone of South America. These seemingly unsurpassable peaks were recently the focus of a Channel 5 documentary, in which Chris Tarrant explores the world’s most extreme railway journeys. In episode 2, Tarrant undertakes a challenging and thrilling rail route from the coast of Chile to the Bolivian capital of Sucre, a rail journey that defies the odds as it climbs 1000m over some of the most unwelcoming terrain on the planet.
With the humorous and spirited Tarrant at the helm, this programme showcased the stunning, otherworldly terrain of the Chilean and Bolivian desert. Riding a series of rickety but unrelenting old trains, Tarrant travelled across the vast plains of Atacama and Salar de Uyuni, high up in the Andean Mountains, where he was afforded spectacular views across a barren yet wildly beautiful landscape.
His route took him through remote communities where local people live tough lifestyles, striving to make a living from the inhabitable land that they occupy. Yet these are people who have a positive outlook on life and are some of the friendliest in the world. Under such extreme circumstances they rely heavily on one another and are always ready to help a neighbour or welcome a stranger into their community. As such, Tarrant got a real taste of Andean life, even having the chance to drive the train!
Having defied the challenge of crossing the Andes by train, Tarrant arrived at his final destination – the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sucre. This beautiful, colonial city hidden high up in the mountains was well worth the journey. Here, Tarrant had a chance to relax, soak up the vibrant culture, sample some delicious Bolivian food and drink and muse over the unforgettable journey that he had taken.
If you want to follow in Tarrant’s footsteps, the HighLives team, led by our Bolivian-born founder Bibiana Garside, are experts in holidays to Bolivia and wider Latin America. With a special connection to the Andes region and unique local know-how we can plan the most adventurous of trips, giving you access to wild landscapes and remote communities whilst ensuring that you travel in comfort and security.