GANDYS TOP 10 CLASSIC ROAD TRIPS
Published : May 20
Written By : Robert Forkan
Location : WORLDWIDE
| ITALY'S STELVIO PASS
It’s thanks to the TV show Top Gear that this mountain pass in northern Italy has become immortalised as one of Europe’s greatest road trips. Driving a Lamborghini, a Porsche, and an Aston Martin, the presenters Clarkson, Hammond and May deemed their route of tight hairpin bends “driving heaven”. Most visitors drive between Bormio and Prato Allo Stelvio, rising to an elevation of nearly 2,800 metres above sea level. The precise number of bends ranges from 40 to 60, depending on your exact route. It’s best to visit during the warmer months once the snow has melted.
| CARDIGAN BAY, WALES
The Coastal Way is the name of the tourist road that runs in a vast sweep around Cardigan Bay, on Wales’s west coast, for 180 miles or so. It starts at Aberdaron, on the Llyn peninsula, running parallel to the coast as it passes Criccieth Castle, Porthmadog, and the bizarre and beautiful Italianate village of Portmeirion. After driving through the western edge of Snowdonia, with mountains to the east and vast sandy beaches to the west, you’ll carry on through Ceredigion, into the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, ending your grand odyssey at St David’s, the UK’s smallest city.
| MOUNTAINS OF NEPAL
Given the steep, mountain roads and parlous surfaces, you’d be wise to hire a local driver for a road adventure across Nepal. A good route for the uninitiated is the 80-mile link between the towns of Pokhara and Gorkha, taking you along the Prithvi Highway, with a steep, spiralling dogleg of a mountain road to the bazaar town of Bandipur. After spending the night here, continue northeast until you reach Gorkha, with its beautiful palace, perched on an outcrop above the town.
| SCOTLAND'S NORTH COAST 500
Nicknamed “Scotland’s Route 66”, the North Coast 500 twists for 519 miles around the far north of Scotland, taking in rugged sea cliffs, island-dotted bays, golden sandy beaches, fairy-tale castles, Highland Munros and, at John o’ Groats, mainland Britain’s most northerly point. Avoid mid-summer when you’ll be battling with hundreds of other road-users.
| SOUTH AFRICA'S GARDEN ROUTE
Never too hot, never too cold, the 190-mile Garden Route along the coast of South Africa’s Western Cape province features a mixture of alluring beaches, surfing spots, wineries, nature reserves and winding estuaries. If you plan things right, you’ll be able to get close to penguins, elephants, rhinos and great white sharks, all in the same day.
| ICELAND'S RING ROAD
Bright blue fjords, black sand beaches, volcanic craters, fields of lava, glaciers, waterfalls and snowy mountain peaks… you’ll witness all these incredible sights on the Ring Road (or Route 1), an 830-mile two-lane road that circles the whole of Iceland. For best conditions, head there in summer, and take a week to circumnavigate. Start and finish in Reykjavik.
| NEW ZEALAND'S SOUTH ISLAND CIRCUIT
Follow the locals and rent a campervan for this mighty circuit (the total length depends on your chosen route) around New Zealand’s South Island, with scenery straight out of The Lord of the Rings movies. Most adventurers start and finish in Christchurch, allowing two weeks to complete the loop. Experiences en route include swimming with dolphins in Marlborough Sound, wine tasting in the Marlborough wine region, crampon hiking on the Franz Josef Glacier, spotting kiwi and the Southern Lights from Stewart Island, and stargazing at Lake Tekapo.
| ROUTE 66 (USA)
“If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way, take the highway that is best. Get your kicks on Route 66.” So sang the Rolling Stones on their 1965 tribute song to the famous highway that runs all the way across the western half of the United States. “It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than 2,000 miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”
Should you wish to get your kicks, allow at least two weeks. Hire a classic American soft-top, and be sure to download plenty of classic driving tunes. Although the road was decommissioned in 1985, over 80 per cent of the original route can still be followed with the help of guidebooks.
| ARGENTINA'S RUTA 40
Stretching for over 3,000 miles, parallel to the Andes, Ruta 40 is one of the most challenging road trips in the Americas. It starts at La Quiaca, in the tropical uplands near the Bolivian border and ends down in the icy wilds of southern Patagonia. En route you’ll have to negotiate narrow mountain roads, hot deserts and temperate rainforests, with all the climactic changes along the way.
| NAMIBIA'S SKELETON COAST
There really is nowhere else like it on the planet. Namibia’s 300-mile-long Skeleton Coast – so-called because of the whale bones and shipwrecks that litter the shore – is an alien landscape of enormous wind-carved sand-dunes, dried riverbeds, gravel plains, thick sea fogs, and crashing surf. Road trips through this remotest of regions are only for the most intrepid. If you drive up and back from Swakopmund, you’ll need to bring supplies and extra fuel. Look out for elephants, giraffes, zebras, baboons, hyenas and antelopes scraping a living here.