The greatest road trips on Earth

Many Australians love driving holidays. Indeed, cars are our most popular form of travel. So Lonely Planet's Epic Drives of the World, recently released this month, is really preaching to the converted.

If you are a motoring enthusiast, have plans for driving holidays overseas or simply have an interest in the world’s wildest corners, this book is worth seeking out. Likewise, I’m sure it’ll be a popular Fathers’ Day or Christmas present.

The folk at Lonely Planet know a thing or two about world travel. Indeed, the collective knowledge across all its titles reveals the world in almost microscopic detail. So when the publisher turns its attention to a particular form of travel the results can be rewarding.

There are 50 drives that are covered in detail within this book. Here are a select few to get you started on the ultimate self-drive adventure.

Australia
Of course, if you want to know how well a book covers a topic, you look to see how it covers the drives within Australia. There are six of these from the obvious ones, like the Great Ocean Road and Alice Springs to Darwin – to the more obscure; like the Captain Cook Highway from Cairns to Mossman or the Gibb River Road across the Kimberley.

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The rugged terrain of the Gibb River Road means you're going to need a vehicle prepared for anything

The other options for the Gibb River Road aren’t for the faint hearted. Take your pick from the Canning Stock Route, the Gunbarrel Highway or the Simpson Desert.

For some more creative desert variations outside of Australia, take a look at Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, Chile’s Atacama Desert or a drive out of Muscat, Oman?

The World
Ever thought of driving along Norway’s convoluted west coast? It’s both challenging and rewarding as the road swoops and soars from one fiord to the next – there are points when you have to take a ferry to continue. Other options given are the little-known Monastery Route in Moldova and a drive in northern Greece.

Recently, there’s been a lot of interest in Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way that follows a trail through history and some really spectacular scenery. And, of course, there’s the legendary craic where Irish hospitality ensures you’ll always leave as a friend.

For a wild and wonderful island circuit head for Iceland. While the drive can be challenging, often having to travel over lava beds, this young and growing island has geysers, icefields and waterfalls.

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The Manali Road stretches from desert to snow, offering the perfect scenic mixture

Bhutan may seem a remote and aloof Himalayan Shangri-la where merely visiting is special enough. So why not go the extra step and take the very scenic drive from Thimpu, the capital, to Gangtey? I’ve been told that the longest straight stretch of road in this Himalayan kingdom is less than 200 metres.

Alternatively, how about the drive down the Manali Road from the Indian region of Leh, which is often called Little Tibet? Once this route was used purely for military purposes but now there’s a ski resort near Manali.

In the south of France, the Cote d’Azur has the Three Corniches drive. Not only are there wonderful views over the Mediterranean and Monaco, but this is also the first road in the world to be tarred by John McAdam around 1820.

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The drive across the Atlas Mountains is arduous, but the extreme difficulty pays off with the view towards the top

In Germany, the Black Forest Highway traverses the most spectacular part of the country. While the road is great you need to stop where you can and go for a walk to make the most of this region.

Or hop across the Mediterranean where the drive south from Marrakesh to Taroudant on the edge of the Sahara in Morocco takes you across the high Atlas Mountains.

These are just a taste of the road trips detailed in Epic Drives of the World. I finished it concluding that I may need to extend my bucket list, considerably.

Where have your favourite road trips been?

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