Taking a cue from National Geographic’s ultimate road trips, we present a roundup of interesting destinations to appease your itinerant spirit
Ever had the urge to drive non-stop, without stopping at any traffic light or stop signs? If you answered yes, you would want to indulge your fancy driving along farms, fields and small town in this 469-mile road trip that spans two states. You will, of course, be forgiven for wanting to stop by and savour the visual delights on your way. The winding Blue Ridge Parkway opens up a panorama of ridge-tops, valleys and mountains as it links Waynesboro, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Mountains to Cherokee, North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Get set for a magic carpet ride on Morocco’s Atlas Mountain Road which is designed to test your driving skills, with blind curves and guardrail-free lanes on the 117-mile route. The Tizi-n’Tichka Pass will make it all worth the while. Here the road climbs more than 6,000 feet from ancient Marrakech, over the High Atlas Mountains and back down to the desert oasis of Ouarzazate. Watch out for goats, camels, mules and the rough road surface.
Experience adventure on Romania’s Transfãgărăşan Road, which is said to give chills-down-the-spine with its twists and drops. Winding between Romania’s two top peaks, this road reaches more than a mile high – traversing along the Argeş River, rim of Vidraru Dam and the Vidraru Lake. This adventure called road trip will take you along the two-lane road, crossing 27 bridges and aqueducts, including an unlit, half-mile-long tunnel. To give a twist to your trip, you could stop by the ruins of 700-year-old Poenari Castle, Dracula’s onetime home atop some 1,480 stairs in the Arefu commune.
If theme park rides excite you, the Trans-Andean Highway is the trip for you, with curves and turns, reminiscent of a roller-coaster ride, along the 226 miles of mountain passes between Santiago and Mendoza. And, at Christ the Redeemer International Pass, you will drive along nearly two-mile-long tunnel, which cuts through the rugged mountains. The tunnel presents two totally separate ecosystems – while the Argentine side is desert, with rock formations in different colours, the Chilean side is a blanket of greenery. What is more, from the Argentine side of the tunnel you can catch a glimpse of the four-mile-high Mount Aconcagua.
A human marvel awaits you at Taihang Mountains in northeastern China, where the villagers of Guoliang had previously relied on a steep mountain trail, popularly referred to as ‘heaven ladder’. The Guoliang Tunnel Road, hand-carved by 12 local men, features an amazing recess that cuts through the mountain. The passageway, located in a remote corner of west Beijing, will take your breath away. A plaque placed at the entrance, notes that the nearly mile-long tunnel took six years to dig using eight-pound hammers and steel drill rods. The twisting tunnel, which is 19-feet wide and 13-feet high, has a series of rough, open spaces that peer out to the sheer gorge below.
Experience the drive of your life on New Zealand’s South Island, with wide roads (of Milford Road or Highway 94) that are, seemingly, made for speeding. But of course you will have to stick to the speed limit (62 miles an hour) even if the mountains and the river urge you to give in to your desire to speed. The winding drive from Queenstown, on Lake Wakatipu, will present a perfect opening to the glacier-carved Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling described as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. You will drive through rain forests, around the perpetually white-capped Ailsa Mountains, along the shores of Lake Te Anau.