It was beginning to get dark in the centre of Uyuni and together with the team we moved to a notary’s office to carry out one of the most important steps of the expedition: certifying and sealing the GPS devices that will register the altitude to which our VW ID4 car will climb to achieve the new Guinness Record on the Uturuncu volcano, a mountain near the community of Quetena that exceeds 6000 metres in altitude. We are welcomed by Eddy Jhovany, a local lawyer and notary. In a very professional manner, he describes the entire validation procedure and certifies each device for registration. He then takes the numbered stamps and closes each of the GPS boxes, thus beginning the most important part of the route; the way to the summit. Once the letters have been drawn up, the documents are signed and the journey continues.
The next place that welcomes us is San Cristóbal, a mining town apparently uninhabited at that time of night. The cold weather sets in as we do another charge of the ID4 with the EnelX Juicebox. Early in the morning, we continued our journey to our base camp, Quetena, to work out the final details of the expedition from there. But there were still about 250 kilometres of route with some of the most beautiful landscapes of the entire route, where we felt closer to the Andean mountains; some of them with the white snow crowning them. In contrast, there is also the “chusca”, that fine dust present on the desert roads that leaves no surface without its presence. We also find the green lung of the altiplano, the so-called “bofedales” (wetlands) and their associated fauna such as flamingos, Andean gulls, puna swamp crows, among others.
Suddenly, we see a pair of peaks looming in the distance from the road: they are the horns that characterise the Uturuncu volcano. Excitement is present in the team, and we can’t help but make a stop to take a picture of our first sighting. The next stretch of the route is shared with hundreds of tourists from different countries travelling from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, or from Tupiza in Bolivia to Uyuni, so it is common to find large jeeps loaded with enthusiastic travellers.
We then made a short detour on the way to visit the Laguna Espejo, which although not mirrored by the hour, looked equally beautiful, being one of the great water reservoirs in such inhospitable areas as this. As we drove on, the road reminded us how far away we are from the great comforts, the cities and technology. It is necessary to drive at low speed, there is no telephone signal, the roads are narrow and only occasionally do small villages appear on the side of the road. One of them is Villa Mar, which we drive through. As the day draws to a close, lights appear in the distance, marking the end of the day. But before that we have to check in with the rangers of the Eduardo Abaroa National Reserve. After this we can say that we have finally reached our base camp at the foot of the mountain, the village of Quetena, at 4150 metres above sea level.