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Cape Town to Cairo
Ewan McGregor rode a motorbike north to south over most of this course to discover it was a Long Way Down, but this intrepid journey can begin or end in Cape Town. If starting at the bottom, head north into Botswana, where you can cruise the rivers to spot elephants in the Chobe National Park. Bear up into Tanzania, known for catch-it-while-you-can snowcapped Mt Kilimanjaro, or listen to the thundering of wildebeest across Serengeti National Park. Enjoy the serenity now - some of Africa's most difficult country lies ahead: Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan are all struggling with conflict. At the journey's end, Cairo promises the pyramids and a bustling city. 

Gringo Trail, Peru
This popular loop links the country's biggest attractions. From upbeat capital Lima the trail traces the coast south to Paracas, where an excursion out to Islas Ballestas to spot penguins and sea lions is ideal. Toast Ica, Peru's wine and pisco (grape liquor) capital, then move on to Nazca to fly over the enigmatic Nazca lines. You can ascend to Arequipa, the  "white city" of colonial architecture, and continue to Puno, Peru's port on Lake Titicaca. Hop on a bus to Cuzco for the archaeological mecca of South America, then walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - or cheat and catch a train from Cuzco. From late May until early September, Machu Picchu's high season, 2,500 people arrive at the site per day - the maximum number allowed.

Europe by music festival
Do not see Europe, hear it. Travelers soak up the summer sun and sounds by driving a Kombi between their favourite gigs. The granddaddy of them all is the UK's Glastonbury, which has hosted big name rock acts plus comedy, circus and theatre since 1971. Another old-timer is Denmark's Roskilde, with a heavy-rocking slant, or get folked-up at Baltica, the international folk festival held in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Finland's World Air Guitar Championships always stuns. The sweet End of the Road Festival, also in the UK, is a low-key wind down with country-folk featuring strongly. 

Silk Road
For centuries merchants have woven roads back and forth between China and Europe, each with their own secret path to transport silk, spices and other goods to markets faster. The modern road usually starts in China's Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Army of the Qin dynasty. It heads on to Urumqi, in China's wild west Xinjiang province, before splitting in two: one branch heading west into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and another heading south to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. In northwestern China, Dunhuang is an essential stop on the Silk Road and is known for the Mogao Caves, which hold religious artefacts from all along the ancient trading route.


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© Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Epic traveller’s routes’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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