Yes, it's that time of year again. No, not the time that you get to watch Top Gear, nor that time that you stare at your computer, deep into the camera hole, wondering if it's in fact Top Gear that's watching you, but the time of year when the Top Gear presenters head off to an exotic locale to film their annual Christmas Special.
Some Christmas Specials have been great (Vietnam, Bolivia), and some have been uniquely, singularly terrible (India). But they're always a great way to kick back and enjoy some ridiculous shenanigans for a little over an hour or so, all while you seethe with envy over why no one is paying you and your friends to go get drunk and/or injured in a war zone (Middle East).
As has become Top Gear tradition, hosts Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May are back, to another exotic location, to another continent they've been to before, to drive cars they've almost certainly encountered previously.
Alright, if you keep scrolling down, you're going to see where they're going, because I'm about to drop a huge map. You will have no further warnings.
HERE COMES THE MAP.
Yes, they're in sunny, cloudy, beautiful, Argentina, for the illiterate and the cartographically challenged. They were initially spotted by local Jalop Mauricio, who saw the hosts getting off the plane in Buenos Aires. Befittingly, Jeremy looks as happy as could be when accosted by well-wishers after getting off a 14-hour flight:
How positively joyful.
As it stands, the plan is supposedly to drive from Bariloche, at the foothills of the Andes mountain range, to Ushuaia, the southernmost city... in the world, as Mauricio notes.
To get there, they'll be taking some surprisingly nice transportation, for once, according to the local edition of Autoblog. A Porsche 928, a Lotus Esprit V8, and a Mustang Mach 1, to be exact. And from the pictures at the link, they all look to actually be in reasonably good condition.
The plan is to take Argentina's Ruta 40, or National Route 40, for us gringos. Much of it is desolate and complete unpaved, with the long stretches of barren waste punctuated only by the occasional truck throwing rocks in your face.
In another grand Top Gear tradition, if you break down, you will die.
And to give you an idea of just how big all of that sometimes-paved death really is, this is what it looks like on Google Maps, except it isn't entirely how it is in real life, because Google, in all of its infinite wisdom, does not let you attempt to drive all the way down to Ushuaia, because it recognizes that would be complete madness.
That map is spitting out a distance of 1,088 miles, though Ushuaia is quite a bit further than that, sitting at the complete bottom end of South America. As it is, Google thinks it'll take roughly 22 hours and 41 minutes to complete the journey through the sparse region of Patagonia.
If you don't break down and die, that is.
I imagine that the Lotus should be fun then, what with it having zero ground clearance and the ever-reliable provenance of British engineering. That Mustang should be fine though.
But if you find yourself already afraid for the lives of your favorite motoring television hosts, and the fate of the world's best TV show, fear not. It already looks like everyone's coping, the only way they know how.
Should be a good one then. In grand Top Gear tradition.
Photos credit: Mauricio Capozzi/Jan Hazevoet