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The 10 Most Spectacular Road Trips On Earth

If you want to escape from it all, these are the journeys you need to take.

Photo: Free-Picture.net.

The words ‘road’ and ‘trip’. Seperately, these words are perfectly acceptable monosyllabics. Mash them together, however, and what you’re left with is the greatest duet since Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s pa-rum-pum-pum-pum moment in Little Drummer Boy.

Road. Trip. Road Trip. Roooooooad Triiiiip. Road Trippin’. Whichever way you spin it, those words always goes down smooth. A journey of untapped potential stretches forward in front of you, laid out seductively on a tarmac carpet, it heads towards the horizon and the mystery that lies beyond it. Now, that’s what I call poetry.“…the greatest duet since Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s pa-rum-pum-pum-pum moment…”So you’ve got some friends (congratulations), you’ve got a cracking playlist, you’ve got a map of the world and you’ve got a piggy bank (that you didn’t steal from a child) with enough money in to rent-a-car; but where are you going to go?

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Well, in this case, you do. Because you’re going on a road trip, remember, and this piece is all about road trips.

1) South Island Circuit – New Zealand

Photo: Rough Guides.com.

The South Island of New Zealand represents a chance for you, and your friends, to dress up like the fellowship and pretend that you’re driving to the fires of Mount Doom in a Hyundai i10 (that you rented from the airport).

In all seriousness, for a country that prides itself on remarkable landscapes it doesn’t get much more remarkable than the South Island Circuit. The most outstanding aspect of a drive in these parts is, arguably, the section of road that joins Milford Sound to Te Anau. It crosses the peaceful Fiordland, and some of the Southern Alps; it will take your breath away.

Image: anzcro.co.nz.

 2) The Ring Road – Iceland

Photo: bootsnall.com.

Iceland, a country so epic that they might as well just cut the bullshit and rename themselves The Democratic Republic Of Epic. The N1 is a 1,339km road that runs right around the island. It’s a bit like the M25, but with more lava fields, volcanic craters and icy blue fjords.

Another one for fantasy nerds, perhaps, as this is where large portions of the hugely popular HBO show Game Of Thrones is shot. Dressing up like Jon Snow, and his merry band of Night’s Watchmen then, is an absolute must.

Image: extremeiceland.is.

3) Highway 61 – USA

Photo: Thody.net.

The United States of America is a land bursting at the belt buckle with potential road trip routes. Highway 61 is most definitely one of them, with its reputation built upon the musical odyssey that flows alongside it.

Starting in Wyoming, Minnesota, the road runs south for 2,300km before winding up in New Orleans, Louisiana. For much of the way, it follows the course of the mighty Mississippi River. A particular highlight for music fans is the section that connects the bluesy sounds of Memphis to the jazz vibes of New Orleans.

Image: images.frompo.com.

 4) Great Ocean Road – Australia

Photo: australiamelbournetourhire.com.au.

The Great Ocean Road, in south western Victoria, was built to commemorate the soldiers that were killed during World War I. And what an amazing tribute, it is.

The road extends for 285km between Warrnambool and Torquay, and winds through some genuinely spectacular terrain. Road trippers can expect to drive past the appropriately named “Shipwreck Coast”, home to the legendary rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles, as well as several other prominent landmarks.

Image: atn.com.au.

 5) The Road To Hana – Hawaii

Photo: travel.nationalgeographic.com.

With six hundred twists and turns, fifty narrow bridges, cascading waterfalls, and a roadside jungle; this stretch of Hawaiian tarmac has got “Mario Kart” stamped all over it’s luscious green face.

It’s only 109km in length but what this road lacks in length, it makes up for in drama and panorama (our new favourite rhyme). Remember that if driving in paradise gets too much for you, you can always unwind by parking up at one of the stereotypically picturesque beaches that litter the route.

Image: lifeabsorbed.com.

 6) The Atlantic Road – Norway

Photo: STRANGESOUNDS.ORG

A perfect example of why size isn’t necessarily everything, the Atlantic Road in Norway is a mere 8.3km in length but packs a seriously big punch. If you start googling this road, you’ll lose half a day to just ogling pictures of it. Trust us, we speak from experience.

Made up of eight low bridges, that link the islands between Molde and Kristiansund, the route curves scenically above the Scandinavian waters. In tranquil conditions, wildlife enthusiasts will have the chance to photograph whales and seals. It’s in stormy conditions, however, when this road really takes things up a notch.

Photo: slate.com.

7) Pan-American Highway – North & South America

Photo: wearetraveller.com.

From a tiny road trip in Norway, to a gargantuan one that spreads across two whole continents. The Pan-American Highway is a whopping 48,000km in length. It is, without doubt, the longest driving route on this, or any other, list.

It starts in Patagonia, on the southernmost tip of Argentina, before snaking its way northwards over the curvature of the earth. Eventually, after a couple of inevitable tyre changes, the journey comes to an end in Sarah Palin territory (aka Alaska).

Photo: lewisinchile.wordpress.com.

 8) The Karakoram Highway – China/Pakistan

Photo: hamaricommunity.com.

This is officially the highest paved road in the world. It connects Tibet, in China, and Pakistan through the Karakoram mountain range and the Khunjerab Pass. Because of the location of the road, and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder Of The World.

While on the highway, intrepid road trippers will take in some seriously epic scenery. Mountains as big as planets, rivers bluer than a batallion of naked smurfs, and terrain so rocky you could put it in a boxing ring and make a movie about it.

Photo: gandharatrails.com.

9) Gobi Desert – Mongolia

Photo: guesthousemongolia.mn.

So, you know that thing I said at the start of all this? The thing about how roads are essential to a good road trip. Well, I take it back. I take it all back, OK. The reason, for this sudden change of heart, is the Gobi Desert. Ah, yes. The Gobi Desert.

An infinite expanse of nothingness, that never seems to end, you can off-road in this place until the cows come home. Of course, due to the harsh conditions, there’s a good chance the cows won’t be coming home for a while. They’ll have a died, somewhere in the middle of this vast Mongolian expanse.

If Genghis Khan was alive today, he probably wouldn’t get anything done. He’d be having far too much fun tearing it round the Gobi Desert, in a four by four, to contemplate conquering half the known world.

Image: becuo.com.

 10) The Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Photo: mycarheaven.com.

We’ve thrown this one in the mix to show that you don’t need to travel 20,000 miles to reach a good road trip location. The Outer Hebrides, in Scotland, might not sound like the most excitng place for an adventure but it really is the cat’s pyjamas.

Windswept and rugged, a bit like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, this part of the world doesn’t get half the attention it deserves. Beautiful beaches, ancient standing stones, and some of the shittest weather imaginable. Welome to Scotland!

Image: scotiana.com.

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