Following the huge popularity of my previous article 12 Kick-Ass Routes Part I, I have continued my quest to find the most amazing and inspiring routes for you. So, I am happy to share an additional 11 epic route ideas (and leave the twelfth for you to add in the comments)!
1. Cape to Casablanca
Remember my earlier mentioning of Cape to Cairo? I discovered a much more difficult route up north from Cape Town, going over the west coast of Africa. Perhaps it’s even one of the most difficult routes in the world as it passes through countries with very difficult visa policies, civil war and harsh health conditions.
One guy who actually travelled this route is Johnny from OneStep4Ward.com. The journey back in 2015 took him 8 months and $3,000 in visas and bribes alone. He travelled in pretty much one consecutive trip through 27 UN countries. As you can see not all of it was done overland, but this young adventurer has a unique and inspiring style of travelling. And he also earned more than a million dollars blogging about it all. What a life!
2. Vienna to Pyongyang – the forbidden railway
Once upon a time there were two Austrian guys who travelled from Vienna to North Korea by train. They were called Helmut and Oliver and managed to spend an incredible 36 hours inside North Korea without a guide. Now that is what I call an adventure!
The so-called forbidden railway is not approved for foreigners. Since their journey back in 2008 it seems they remain to be the only two ‘tourists’ who entered the country this way.
3. Caucasian Challenge
Anyone fancy a road trip? In the Caucasian challenge participants have to cover 3 countries and 4,000 kilometres from Istanbul to Yerevan in any kind of car. An 11-day crazy adventure with no assistance by the organisation apart from an outdated road book.
The participation fee is minimal, but along the way anything can happen. One participant, Ric from GlobalGaz.com, started his challenge already in Budapest and ended up traversing 11 countries as he got lost. He then also had to dump his €2,000 car in no man’s land before being allowed to fly out of Armenia. What a story!
4. Brussels to Benin – in a Citroën 2CV
Imagine trying to drive a 28-horsepower Citroën 2CV to West Africa over off road tracks that typically require a professional 4×4. I once participated in the hardcore edition of the Touareg Trail from Brussels to Benin and it turned out to be the road trip of a lifetime!
The route covered 10,000 carefully selected kilometres. It lead straight through the desert of Morocco using some of the famous Dakar Rally tracks, through the Western Sahara and onwards to Mauritania and West Africa. Getting stuck in the sand, flat tires, broken brakes, failed engines and running out of petrol. It was all part of the adventure!
5. Mongol Rally
Imagine a race with no fixed route, just a start and end point (and some wild parties in between). Thundering 16,000 kilometres from London to Lake Baikal in Russian Siberia, the Mongol Rally has only one goal: to finish within 8 weeks. The organisers themselves call it “the greatest motoring adventure on the planet“.
Participants have to figure out everything themselves and cannot rely on any backup or support. They need to raise funds for charity and drive a “small, shit car”. With catchy slogans like “neither your car, nor your life, will ever be the same”, each year the adventure attracts hundreds of participants from all over the world.
6. London to New York by train
Yes, you read that well. Taking a train all the way from London to New York, connecting two cities that are 20,777 kilometres apart. Officially announced in 2015, the head of the Russian railway stated his idea of constructing the world’s longest railway link.
The only thing is that it might actually never be built. There is no solution yet for crossing the 55 kilometres over the Bering Strait, neither is there for the funding. It seems like the “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development” will not start anytime soon.
7. Colouring the map
Some people just want to colour the world map and show it off to their friends. I have created the most desperate version, which is to visit the top 11 largest countries in the world. With this list ticked off, you can then colour in more than 50% of the world’s land mass! Give it a nice orange colour to make it really stand out!
By the way: don’t get fooled by the way countries appear on a map! Check out this country size comparison tool to see for example why DR of Congo is in fact larger than Greenland.
8. Asian Highway 1
Who ever knew there is a single road connecting Europe with the Far East? The Asian Highway 1 officially runs from Tokyo to South Korea (via ferry, I know it’s weird), and onwards to the Turkey-Bulgaria border. It crosses 14 countries at a length of 20,557 kilometres.
The road leads through some of the most fascinating places on earth, including Myanmar and the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea. The latter perhaps poses the biggest obstacle of all: the border between North and South Korea is firmly shut.
9. Pole to Pole
Pole to Pole was a BBC expedition and travel documentary to 16 countries in 141 days, covering 20,000 kilometres. The journey was made back in 1991, in a time when the Soviet Union was collapsing and when Sudan and Ethiopia were at war.
An overbooked supply ship in South Africa forced the crew to fly to Chile to find other ways for reaching the final destination. Once at the South Pole they didn’t get the ‘warm’ welcome they had hoped for, but they made it as only few people in the world who ever completed such an expedition. Interested to learn more? Find a log of the entire journey here.
10. Going to extremes
I am not sure how you would ever see an itinerary here, but one way or the other it will lead you to the world’s most extreme inhabited places. From the coldest and hottest, to the lowest and highest ones on earth: packing a bag for this trip would be a true hell.
According to my own research Oymyakon (Siberia, Russia) would be the coldest inhabited place with average winter temperatures of minus 50°C (minus 58°F). At the other extreme we find Dallol in Ethiopia averaging the hottest month at 47 °C (116 °F). The lowest inhabited city on earth is Jericho near the Dead Sea in the West Bank (−258m (−846ft)) and the highest La Rinconada near a gold mine in Peru (5,100m).
11. Around the world in 7 months
The route above I made myself back in 2013. In 7 months time I travelled over 61,000 kilometres, visited 16 countries in 4 continents, took 10 flights and spent about €9,000 for having the time of my life. I touched snow, braced 45 degrees Celsius, I walked deserts, climbed mountains, swum rivers and crossed bridges. This trip was unique in every aspect.
My route was mostly improvised, buying relatively cheap flights as I went. It was my visit to Iran that sparked my fascination for the Middle East and in Bangladesh I discovered the deadly ship-breaking industry. Looking back, this trip laid the foundation for starting this website.
There are undoubtedly more great ideas you can think of to travel the world. Feel free to add yours in the comments below!
I created the maps in this article with Photoshop, using the awesome and free custom map generator by Minas Giannekas as a starting point.