Classic campervan capers
New Zealand, with the South Island’s spectacular west coast, might just be the perfect place to take to the road. (John Hay/LPI)
Take the open road, some glorious scenery and the ability to stop wherever you like – and you have a recipe for radical freedom. Now just add one or more of these fabulous routes for a classic campervan experience.
Route 1, Iceland
The 1,339km Route 1, completed in 1974, allows drivers to make a complete circuit of this dramatic volcanic island. The 50km drive from Keflavik airport to the capital, Reykjavik, is an eye-popping introduction to a landscape of jagged black lava fields. Highlights along the route include Jökulsárlón, a pristine glacial lake on country’s southern coast that is filled with huge icebergs.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
This 273km route, which traces the coastline of southwestern Victoria, is lined with iconic landmarks, from the world-famous limestone pinnacles of the Twelve Apostles to Great Otway National Park, home to koalas and other wacky Antipodean wildlife.
Isle of Mull and Isle of Coll, Scotland
England has restrictions on wild camping, so you need to head well off the beaten track to enjoy a taste of freedom – try the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Coll in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. With 480km of coastline and mountains approaching 1,000m high, Mull is the largest and most developed of the two , while tiny Coll measures just 21km from top to toe and 5km across.
Cape Town to Cairo, Africa
The overland route from South Africa to Egypt is epic. You will need at least three months and a vehicle with serious credentials to cope with this trip. But if you have the time, the energy and a 4X4 that can survive rutted roads and sand dunes, the rewards are endless and include a drive-by of Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Rocky Mountains, Canada
Canada’s 230km Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s definitive drives, traversing the Banff and Jasper National Parks. It is a geological wonderland where you can relax in geothermal hot springs or set foot on craggy glaciers. Keep your eyes peeled to spot elks grazing by the roadside or even catch a glimpse of a brown bear.
“Top to toe”, New Zealand
New Zealand might just be the perfect place to take to the road. Pick up a van in Auckland, head east to the Bay of Plenty and cut through the North Island’s volcanic heartland towards stunning Tongariro National Park. Cross to the South Island and follow the spectacular west coast past Franz Josef Glacier to the splendour of Milford Sound before a grandstand finish in Queenstown.
Mannheim to Prague, Germany and Czech Republic
Cultural heritage is the name of the game on this 1,000km route that runs through Germany’s picturesque south over the Czech border to Prague. Along the way you can visit more than 70 romantic castles and fairytale palaces rich in Baroque and Rococo architecture, as well as medieval towns such as Bamberg and Kronach.
Rent an adapted 4X4 in the capital, Windhoek, and make for Etosha National Park, part of the Kalahari Basin and prime big game country. Wherever you go, the roads will be mostly loose gravel or dusty farm tracks, but it will not detract from the magic of a country many rate as the most beautiful on earth.
San Francisco to Los Angeles, United States
The 1,055km of California’s Highway 1 has everything from whales in the Pacific to mice at Disneyland. But it is not just about jaw-dropping scenery, or Mickey and his pals or even the iconic cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is about enacting a dream of unfettered, Jack Kerouac-inspired freedom.
The Garden Route, South Africa
Connecting Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, this famous trip has the Outeniqua Mountains on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Slurp your way through acres of prime vineyards, trek stunning trails, watch whales at the town of Hermanus and take time out on the fine beach at Plettenburg Bay.