Budget airlines pushing cheap flights have made it easier than ever for travellers to jet set & country hop. This is of course a wonderul thing. I myself reap the benefits of this trend and have seen far more of the world than I would otherwise have been able to.
However, there is something special, adventurous and plain romantic about a proper overland trip where you can watch the landscapes change and pass through the tiny towns that are hardly even on the maps. Oh and let’s face it, airports truly suck, they have all the personality of elevators but at a ridiculous price.
In tribute to this concept here are our Top Seven Great Overland Trips.
1. Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
This trip across the entire American continent goes from one the northernmost points on earth to one of the southernmost via the equator. The route is bookended by frozen glaciers but in between them takes in California’s Golden plains, amazonian jungles and the arid Salt flats of Bolivia. You can also expect to see the entire spectrum of human life from the opulent wealth of Miami beach to the punishing poverty of Honduras.
See the Northern Lights at Alaska, the Catatumbo lightning show in Venezuela and the clearest starry skies on earth at Atacama Chile.
This is the trip legends are made of.
2. Across The Sahara
Arabian nights, Arabian days. Start the trip at Marrakech to get lost in the souk before heading to Cairo to see the pyramids and then brace yourself for one the toughest trips on earth. Whether you do this by jeep, motorbike or camel you expect epic sand dunes, expansive clear stars and entire days without passing a soul.
This takes in Mali, Niger and possibly Libya depending on the security and visa situation so whilst it is very doable, it is certainly not for the fainthearted. Bring water.
3. The Himalaya’s
According to many religious traditions the Himalaya’s are considered to be the home of the Gods and sacred. It’s easy to see why, these mighty, majestic mountains span from Pakistan across India, Nepal, Tibet and even China.
They boast the highest peaks on earth and are ideal for trekking climbing or photographing. Tibet can only be visited via a special permit so if that deters you then get your fix of culture at “little Lhasa” in Dharamsala and head to Mustang Nepal for similar, cinematic landscapes.
A few people have famously trekked this route and if you have the legs, go for it! Otherwise, bus, train, jeep, yak train and motorcycle will get you there!
4. UK to Papua New Guinea
Beginning below sea level with a dive under the channel, this brave and bonkers trip is the brainchild of Broke Backpacker Will Hatton. It speeds across western europe before taking in the eastern bloc via Bulgaria and Georgia with the first leg ending in Turkey. Then its onwards to Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal before the obligatory route through SEA.
The best bit though is that Papua New Guinea itself is to be reached by hand-made sailboat!
5. Trans-Siberian Railway
“Russia is a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma”. Churchill’s famous words are as relevant now as when he first uttered them nearly 100 years ago and Russia remains perhaps the most misunderstood country on earth. Whilst its citizens are often thought of as been as cold as the country’s winter, we say they are more like coconuts; hard on the inside but sofa and pure as milk inside!
This classic route crosses the largest country on earth and spans two continents. Check out the architectural gems and buzzing culture of St Petersburg and Moscow before heading to timeless Mongolia. The trip ends in China where you we recommend you head to funky Beijing for some fun before catching your flight back west!
6. India by Tuk Tuk
Travellers have been crossing India by train and motorcycle for some time and a well worn
path, plus an abundance of English speakers, makes it kind of easy. If you therefore want an altogether more novel and challenging way to cross India then get yourself a Rik-Shaw!
Begin in Goa’s south for some serious partying before heading into blissful Kerala. Then its North to Rajasthan’s deserts and mythic gems before heading to Delhi and Agra to see the mighty Taj.
Finally, from Delhi see how far into the mountainous North you can get before the poor vehicle gives out!
7. Route 66
Perhaps the original and Daddy of all road trips, Route 66 cruise through some of America’s most forgotten heartlands. The highway itself is not longer maintained which is at once tragic and brilliant as it makes the journey all the more challenging, personal and haunting.
From Chicago, through Denver and eventually yo Californians promised land this trip not only takes you through the United States but back in time to an era when railroads and steel dominated.
Be sure to bring a pair of Levi’s, this is the quintessential American experience.
So there you have it! I am sure you agree that these Seven Great Overland Trips are all pretty damned epic. I only hope I live long enough to complete them all!