Episode 5 is scenic, challenging, but also surprisingly emotional as the journey becomes about endurance and mental toughness.
This recap of Apple TV+ series Long Way Up season 1, episode 5, “Atacama Desert Into Bolivia” contains significant spoilers.
We will be recapping every episode — check out the archive.
We begin in Calchaqui Valley, Argentina. Ewan McGregor and Charley end up on a farm. In one of the stores, Ewan sees a film he’s in on the TV. Some people inside the store want autographs and photos. We sometimes forget that Ewan is famous while watching this — he’s so normal. As noted in episode 4, the pair seem way more relaxed now they’ve figured out the electric scooters.
The pair then make it to San Antonio De Los Cobres, Argentina. One of the crew members has bad altitude sickness and they need to come to his aid. The air is very thin where they are. Ewan and Charley end up on a train that crosses a high bridge and it gives feelings of vertigo. At night time, Ewan takes off his blue nail varnish that his kids insist he has on.
Ewan and Charley are told that at this altitude, it’s going to get cold very quickly. It gets off to a bumpy ride. The road is cut into the hill which gives very scenic views. At one point, Ewan and Charley get confused about directions and have to ask other drivers passing by if they are going the right way. They are trying to hit the border. Luckily, they went the right way. So far they’ve done 9,000km. This period of the chapter gave me legitimate anxiety — I’d hate to guess on directions in this environment.
A long journey so far
Ewan talks about how these journeys make you appreciate the beauty and vastness of the world — I was almost envious at this point, wishing I could achieve a journey like this. They then reach San Pedro De Atacama, Chile. One of the crew members is leaving after working on this production for a year and he’s emotional. Ewan marks how they’ve done Argentina and Chile for 5 weeks and now they head to Bolivia. They predict that the next few days will be difficult.
Passports and bumpy roads
Long Way Up episode 5 presents a rather ironic moment of an American having border issues.
At the Chile / Bolivia border, they have a problem with Ewan’s passports. As he stamped his passport using his American passport in Chile, he can’t use his United Kingdom passport. He has to buy an American visa to get into Bolivia which I found odd and ridiculous. The next mission: going through the Siloli desert — there’s no roads, only tracks. It’s a bumpy ride. The route is so challenging that Ewan falls over. Charley is very anxious as he’s scared of falling after his past injuries from a bike.
Ewan gets upset as he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt as that was an unexpected part of the journey — it was difficult to watch Ewan get upset, especially with Charley comforting him. They get into a pool with other riders and they all share their journeys and experiences. The next part of their journey is a very remote route that will be difficult to evacuate. It’s endurance and survival at this stage. Temperatures drop suddenly and it gets darker.
They finally reach a place to stay. The production team needs to find a hotel to charge their adventure vehicles. Ewan is relieved to have found a place to stay.
The production team keeps on driving and the suspension is not great due to the road — the chapter ends on a cliffhanger as the production team ends up hitting a ditch in the road and the camera flips over!
Long Way Up episode 5 is scenic, challenging, but also surprisingly emotional as the journey becomes about endurance and mental toughness.