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Bring a little bit – or a whole lot – of adventure to your travels with our ten themed lists, each delivering ten ideas for truly extraordinary, original experiences
New Zealand’s snowcapped Southern Alps rising above Lake Tekapo


Check of the Four Corners

Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are not simply the only four American states that meet at a single point, but the quartet also host the US’s greatest concentration of national parks. This is the place to come for that classic scene of the lonely desert road stretching to the horizon. On your way, take in such sights as Monument Valley and the enigmatic remains of centuries-old civilisations in Colorado’s Mesa Verde.

Circle NZ’s Alps

New Zealand’s dominant mountain range runs almost the length of the South Island, dividing the rolling farm country of the Paciic coast from the more remote and forested lands to the west. If your introduction to the Southern Alps came in the form of aerial shots of the snowcapped peaks of Middle Earth, accompanied by swelling orchestral music, it’s time to embark on your own quest. A 700mile loop from Christchurch will give you widescreen views aplenty. For a truly cinematic experience, delve deeper into the mountains on detours to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and along the shores of Lake Pukaki to the foot of the summit that lords it over them all: Aoraki, or Mount Cook.

Cross half a continent

The 1,761-mile-long Stuart Highway runs north to south through Australia’s Red Centre. It is not a road where every turn reveals new wonders; the reward of this trip comes in the gradual change in your surroundings, from red soils dotted with green spinifex in Australia’s outback to the tropical foliage of the Indian Ocean coast.

Take the high road

Amid all the crashing of continental plates that raised up the Canadian Rockies, a 144-mile route was let more or less clear at their centre. The Iceields Parkway now passes through this contorted scenery; with the access it brings to glacial lakes, waterfalls and iceields, the section between Banf and Jasper has a good claim to being the most scenic in the world.

Spin your own saga

For a modern Viking journey, swap sails for sturdy wheels and follow signs reading simply ‘1’ to complete a circuit of Iceland’s Hringvegur (Ring Road). Running for more than 800 miles, the road mixes long stretches of sparse beauty with dramatic interludes as it passes iceberg-illed lagoons, crashing waterfalls and bubbling hot springs.

Count the curves

Many Alpine highways follow age-old walking trails over mountain passes, and other paths of least resistance. Austria’s Grossglockner High Alpine Road is diferent: opened in 1935 to a public just beginning to fall in love with the automobile, it was always intended for pleasure. Austria’s highest peak, ater which it was named, can be glimpsed at a few points along the road. It includes 36 switchbacks over its 30-mile course, constantly changing the angle on the giddying scenery. Make the road toll go further by taking detours to the 360° viewpoint at Edelweissspitze, and to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe to peer at the Pasterze Glacier.

Wind along the Costa Verde

A coastal road of vivid colours runs between sprawling São Paulo and curvy Rio de Janeiro. Essential stops on Brazil’s BR101 include colonial-era Paraty and dazzling beaches at Praia da Trindade. Leave time to dart over to the rainforested islands of Ilhabela and Ilha Grande.

Drive the Alaska Highway

Laid out during WWII to link the state with the rest of the US, the Alaska Highway runs more than 1,400 miles through some of the continent’s wildest, least populous lands, from the former gold-rush setting of Canada’s Yukon via one of America’s most remote border crossings to the inal milepost in Delta Junction, Alaska.;

‘Fog, rockfalls and belligerent mountain goats are routine hazards on the Grossglockner road’

Oliver Berry, Lonely Planet guidebook author and feature writer


Find beauty in the desert

With many miles of excellent sealed roads, a self-drive trip in Namibia makes total sense. Plot a route north from capital Windhoek to wildliferich Etosha National Park, before crossing Damaraland to reach the Skeleton Coast. This haunting desert shore comes alive at Cape Cross, with a colony of Cape fur seals 100,000 strong. The most impressive desert views are in the Namib-Nauklut National Park to the south. At Sossusvlei the landscape takes on the quality of a surrealist painting, with the gaunt forms of long-dead trees silhouetted against the shiting sands.

Go top to toe on Ruta 40

In The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado roved across the South American continent. They could still have had a sizeable adventure (though perhaps fewer political awakenings) had they stayed within the borders of their home country. Ruta 40 patrols the western bounds of Argentina, and marks the divide between the pampas and the Andes. It’s a giant undertaking, running nearly the length of the country. Tackle a stage or two, or get ready for a drive that in latitude terms (flipped for the southern hemisphere) would be the equivalent of a road starting in Milton Keynes and ending in the middle of the Sahara, via a point higher than the summit of Mont Blanc.


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