Fromextreme transcontinental voyages to weekend getaways with kiddies on board –the thing that defines all road trips is that the journey itself not the destination matters. If you believeyou’ve mastered the ability to celebrate the unexpected and agree with G.K.Chesterton that “an adventure isonly an inconvenience rightly considered”, you’re ready to hit the road. The choice ofthe route is just a matter of time at hand, resources in your pocket and howwild you are at heart.
Karakoram Highway, China – Pakistan
Let’s start it big. The Karakoram Highway,known unofficially as KKH, covers around 800 miles between Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road city in China,and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, so it doesn’t take profound knowledge of geographyto realize how awe-inspiring a trip it may be. Often referred to as the”Eighth Wonder of the World”, the road winds through the solitude of the Himalayas, giving access to asmany as 5 eight-thousanders, including K2 and Nanga Parbat. Two things you willprobably learn en route are humility and the ability to embrace loneliness as a healingforce.
Via Chiantigiana, Italy
Now, this one is suitable for a road trip noviceas there’s basically no planning involved and the route covers a mere 70 kmbetween Florence and Sienna, but don’t let the distance fool you – there’senough in between to keep you busy for a week. Via Chiantigiana, also known as Strada Regionale 222 (SR222), traverses oneof the most important wine producing regions in Italy, the Chianti Classico, and unveils that picture perfect face of Tuscany you know from the movies. Meanderinggently from one farmhouse and villa to another, through bucolic villages and cutehistoric towns, the road may not challenge your spirit, but will definitely nourishyour soul.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Ancient rainforests, tranquil bays, golden sands, native wildlife, almost-verticalcliffs and staggering rock formations – all this and a lot more awaits you alongthe 243-kilometre stretch of road between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Warrnambool.The Great Ocean Road is by far one of the most scenic coastal drives in theworld, providing access to such prominentlandmarks as the Twelve Apostles, the Grotto and Cape Otway. With plenty ofhighlights and activities scattered along the way, it can easily suffice for anextended vacation.
Cairo–Cape Town Road, Egypt – South Africa
To embark on a mind-boggling journey along the Trans-AfricanHighway 4 is to cross the entirecontinent, north to south, covering 10,228 km and traversing as many as 10countries. And Lord knows how long it may take, but it can easily develop intoa year-long extreme adventure, and as such, requires a serious dose of planning. For those who dare to take the plunge, Africa offers spiritual awakeningand memories to last a lifetime. Images of the ancient Egyptian wonders,Lalibela, the Great Rift Valley, Serengeti National Park, Zanzibar beaches, themajestic Victoria Falls and Sossusvlei dunes will forever dwell in your heart.
Romantic Road, Germany
TheRomantic Road is another optionfor the less adventurous, but a drop on the extremity scale is counterbalancedby cultural fervency and great historical value. The 400 km route from Würzburgto Füssen, with tens of medieval towns, legendary castles and picturesquevillages along the way, brims with quintessentially Bavarian spirit and offers heapsof excitement for history buffs, art lovers, foodies and festival enthusiastsalike. And lest you think it’s all about timber-framed architecture, folk music and beer,the road is not called romantic without reason. The Neuschwanstein area, Franconian vinyeardsand the Alpsee, to name just a few, are perfect places for a little romancewith images straight from a fairytale as a background.
Icefields Parkway, Canada
Taking the 230 km journey along the Icefields Parkway, also known as AlbertaHighway 93, is probably the best way to experience Canadian wilderness at itspurest. Two conveniently wide lanes wind their way between Lake Louise and thetown of Jasper, offering unobstructed views of snow-capped peaks, turquoiselakes and pristine valleys protected within Banff and Jasper National Parks. Theroute can be covered in more or less three hours, but make sure you have acamping gear on you. The landscapes are so surreal and hypnotizing it’s fairlyeasy to lose track of time.
Manali Leh Highway, India
Prepare for inclementweather, water crossings, occasional landslides, traffic jams, high passes at over 5,000 meters, altitude sickness and the sight of crashed vehiclesdown the slopes. The 500 km journey from Manali to Leh is not the most relaxingdrive in the world, but the heart-stopping scenery more than rewards your discomfortand endurance. Just take it at a leisurely pace, devoting at least 2 days forthe route and minimum one night at thestarting point to acclimate to low air pressure.
Lofoten National Tourist Route, Norway
In a contest for the mostsoothing place on Earth, the Lofoten Islands would certainly make a strongcompetitor. Be it thanks to the endearing scenery, the Arctic light, theremoteness, the abundance of wildlife or the unhurried fisherman culture, the archipelagois shrouded with a sense of peace, quiet and harmony that immediately relaxesyour mind. The 166 km long stretch of road between the village ofFiskebøl in the north and Å in the south travels gently across a mosaic of craggycliffs, sheltered bays, glistening beaches, colorful villages, extensive sheeppastures and tiny fishing hamlets.
The Ring Road, Iceland
Taking the Ring Road (aka Route 1) is anexhilarating experience of raw Icelandic beauty. Geysers, waterfalls, fjords,tiny villages, lonely lighthouses and sweeping flats is what you pass on yourway as you follow the 832 mi (1,339 km) road that circles the island andconnects all inhabited parts of the country. With plenty of opportunities tostop by, take in the Viking folklore and dip into steamy sulfurous pools, thiscan, too, become a trip of a lifetime.
A final message from Buddha before you set off…
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”