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Celebrating the call of the road: our top 5 road trips

The open road has always been synonymous with incredible travel experiences. Mix iconic landscapes, a classic automobile, with a sense of adventure and you’ve got an winning combination for a luxurious and intrepid exploration. This summer I got a taste for the open roads of the USA’s South West and was hooked from the first turn of the steering wheel. Heading out on the road, my car of choice was a Bentley Mulsanne, a pinnacle of British engineering and style. On my journey along the I50 also known as the Loneliest Road, along California’s coastline and through Nevada’s arid deserts I encountered people and sights that only becomes possible once you put yourself in the driver’s seat and experience the elements . Inspired by my time on the road here are our top five road trips around the world. Loneliest Road, USA Route I50, The Loneliest Road, USA Cutting a cross-section through the U.S, the loneliest road passes through time-worn towns, magnificent mountain ranges, and follows in the footsteps of national pioneers from the modernity of the Silicon Valley to the historical Wild West. Dubbed the loneliest road in 1860 by horsemen, the road is categorized by its remote emptiness and stark, beautiful landscapes. Travellers looking to tackle this mighty stretch of road can even pick up survival kits from gas-stations along the route. Set off from San Francisco, the source of this North American artery, and drive out through Reno and across Nevada on the I50 before heading south through the desert of Las Vegas and then back to San Francisco via Los Angeles and then the Pacific Coast Highway. Pacific Coast Highway A road of stark contrasts, this journey will take travellers through the haunting nothingness of the Nevada Desert to the hedonistic bright lights of Vegas. For a luxurious stopover on your journey stay at Post Ranch Inn, California. The Garden Route, South Africa The lush, slender stretch of coastal plain between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth makes for an easy – but beautiful – introduction to South Africa, with mountains and vineyards on one side, and rocky shores and sandy beaches on the other. From Cape Town travellers can head due east to explore the beauty of this drive in a manageable day. Named the Garden Route after the diverse nature along the southern coastline (in comparison to the dry inland of South Africa), it is a spectacular place to experience the country’s wildlife on-shore and off-shore. Garden Route, South Africa A wonderful highlight is watching marine life from Rodderg Beach which offers exciting views of majestic whales and pods of spirited dolphins. Whale and dolphin watching is just the tip of the wildlife iceberg with sightings of lions, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and many more creatures all on offer when enjoying an exhilarating game drive from one of the numerous lodges along the route. The coast is at its most dramatic at Storms River Mouth; abandon your wheels here to walk the trails, with the surf pounding the rocks below you. The Garden Route is best undertaken in a convertible so you can soak in all the sights and sounds of the Atlantic waves rolling in and the lush vegetation and wildlife that you’ll spot on the way. For a luxurious stopover on your journey stay at The Plettenburg Hotel, Plettenburg Bay Gobi Desert, Mongolia Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia is an intrepid drivers dream. Still untouched by mass tourism its vast wildernesses where travellers can journey for miles and not see another settlement or person days are shrouded in mystery and provides the perfect setting for a road trip for thrill seekers. Such rugged landscapes call for a sturdy vehicle such as a fully kitted out Toyota Land Cruiser, and for a real challenge the Gobi Desert is the best place to start. Gobi Desert, Mongolia In Asia’s largest desert you can off road to your hearts content where kilometre after kilometre of nothingness stretches out seemingly infinitely around you. This truly remote region has a rugged beauty; when you get tired of being behind the wheel, explore on camel back and spend your nights at a traditional Ger camp. Highlights include drives up and down the legendary sand dunes of Khongoryn Els and visiting the impressive Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park named after the voluminous mountain range which sits on the eastern half of the park, with plenty of wildlife sightings such as golden eagles, snow leopards, camels, bears and gazelles. For a luxurious stopover on your journey stay at Ger Camps in the Gobi Desert. N1 Ring Road, Iceland For an unusual road trip that takes you snaking through the lunar-like geological landscapes of Iceland, guests can take on the 1339-kilometre road the N1 that runs right around the island. This unique route allows drivers to awe at the country’s unique geology, from spewing  volcanoes, steaming geysers, and towering glaciers. Following the N1 will take guests off the beaten track as they travel from the chic urban hub and blue lagoons of Reykjavik south towards the Golden Circle. N1 ring road, Iceland Here drivers can take a break and stretch their legs in the Thingvellir National Park and see the Gullfoss Waterfall. Continuing south on the open road, guests will come face to face with the infamous Mnt Eyjafjallajökull volcano that grounded flights back in 2010. Getting further away from civilisation guests will head to the beach at Reynisfjara near the town of Vík, this is an astounding example of Iceland’s amazing geological features with black volcanic sands and basalt columns protruding from the cliffs. Once darkness falls gusts can drive to the sight of the flickering northern lights above. Heading north-east the landscape then changes from glacial blues to arid reds of Námaskard, which mars-like landscapes are recognizable from blockbusters such as Prometheus. Finally guests will continue to drive back to Reykjavik for one final dip in the Blue Lagoon. For a luxurious stopover on your journey stay at The Hotel Ranga, in the Golden Circle. The Great Ocean Road, Australia Extending 285km between Torquay and Warrnambool in south western Victoria, the Great Ocean Road was conceived as a scenic road of world repute to commemorate the soldiers who died during World War I. The most spectacular part of the drive is undoubtedly the appropriately named “Shipwreck Coast”, home to the dramatic, and iconic, rock formations of the Twelve Apostles. The road is a relaxed way for travellers to ease themselves into the imposing landscapes of Australia. Great Ocean Road, Australia We recommend for guests to drive from east to west beginning in Torquay at the legendary Bells beach (the ultimate surfers paradise) the winding road twists around the Victorian coastline with the Southern Ocean on your left and the edge of the bush to your right. An easy relaxed road trip, it’s the perfect route to take at a slow pace and stop off as many times as they like enjoying the spectacular views with one of the six million koalas who inhabit this stretch of coastline. The highlight of this drive from Cape Otway up to Port Fairy is where guests will find the outstanding viewing points for the most breath-taking sight, the magnificent Twelve Apostles dotted along the Shipwreck Coast. For a luxurious stopover on your journey stay at The Great Ocean Ecolodge, Australia. Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Tom Marchant

Tom Marchant is a co-founder of the award-winning tour operator Black Tomato, a luxury tailor-made travel company organising bespoke experiences round the world. Part of the Black Tomato Group, Black Tomato is an award-winning luxury travel company that delivers imaginative and cutting-edge travel experiences around the world. We create inspiring itineraries in up and coming and remote destinations, providing clients with the inside track. Whilst our group and prize incentive agency, The Black Tomato Agency , produce creative, award-winning incentives, prizes and events, Studio Black Tomato, was born as the in-house marketing and content creation agency. From initial clients including tourist boards and hotel groups, we now produce internationally acclaimed content and media campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world.

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  1. We did two of these roads already but now our list got even longer with more to do. Would love to do the Gobi Desert and the N1 ring road in Iceland. Looks fascinating.

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