As the last rays of sunshine drain out of what has been a frankly disappointing summer (and let’s be honest, that’s saying something in a country where a decent summer can be defined by one’s ability to continue barbequing under an umbrella), our thoughts start to turn to autumnal escapes. We start dreaming of adventures in distant lands, breathing spice-scented air and tasting new cultures.
One of the best ways to explore a new place – to really get under the skin of a destination – is on a road trip. Few other journeys give you the flexibility to stop off and explore every sight that catches your eye, grab exotic snacks from roadside shacks or neon-lit diners, and discover a destination at exactly your pace. Here at BIRD, we’re big fans of road trips and we’ve rounded up five of our favourites, from every corner of the globe.
California here we come…
It’s a classic for a reason. The long stretch of asphalt that makes up the Pacific Highway, snaking down the coast all the way from Canada to Mexico offers unrivalled ocean vistas and iconic American scenery. From the wild beaches of the Oregon coast to the bold red outline of the Golden Gate Bridge, this has to be the ultimate American adventure.
En route, be sure to take in the spectacular scenery at Big Sur, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and take a beach break in quaint, small-town-Americana Carmel.
Colombia’s wild south
Following the recently-announced FARC ceasefire and relaxing of FCO travel guidelines, Colombia’s unexplored south is opening up to travellers in search of a new adventure. The country’s southern departments of Huila and Cauca are perfect road trip territory – home to colourful colonial towns, archaeological wonders and geographical phenomena, from the charming ‘white city’ of Popayan to UNESCO-protected San Agustin and the vast umber vistas of the Tatacoa desert.
Amakuna is soon to introduce a brand-new chauffeur driven road trip, taking in Huila and Cauca’s most spectacular and off-the-radar sights. Guests can stay at the Bethel Bio hotel – a new luxury hotel concept in the heart of the desert, complete with ‘Bio Egg’ rooms where you can fall asleep under the stars.
View and fondues
Boasting miles upon miles of winding alpine passes, hairpin bends and mountain vistas, few places can rival the Alps for sheer driving pleasure. Rumbling motors, spectacular views and fondue? Consider us sold.
For a twist on the usual road trip, why not try Le Grand Bellevue’s Classic Motorbike Rally? Guests will roar along alpine roads by day, stopping for gourmet lunches en route, before retiring to the hotel for pampering spa treatments and decadent Michelin-starred feasts. Staying at the luxurious Le Grand Bellevue, guests can enjoy treatments at the 3,000sqm Le Grand Spa and tuck into hearty raclette and fondue at the cost Le Petit Chalet tucked away in the hotel grounds.
Road tripping Down Under
Heading out from the caffeine-soused hipster idyll of Melbourne city, the Great Ocean Road is aptly named, taking in crashing waves and endless turquoise horizons. Along the way, stop off at Bells Beach – the home of Australian surfing – before reaching the Twelve Apostles, a collection of enormous and impossibly photogenic rocky outcrops suspended in the surf. A helicopter ride over them is one of those perfect travel experiences that will be forever embedded in your memory. For a true blue Aussie experience, be sure to stop off for a mid-drive pick-me-up of lamingtons and flat whites.
Looking for a place to rest your head? The Great Ocean Ecolodge is a fantastic social enterprise run by inspiring Aussie couple, Shayne and Lizzie. Wake up to kangaroos grazing outside your window and roll up your sleeves and get involved with tiger quoll and koala conservation programmes.
As Olympics fever returns and jaw-dropping Brazilian landscapes hit our screens, what better time to take the most unforgettable off-road adventure in the northeast of the country, the famed “Route of the Emotions”.
Journey over seemingly endless sand dunes and hurtle through the Jericoacoara National Park to the tiny, laidback beachside village known locally as Jeri. Watch the sun set into the sea from the vast Duna Pôr do Sol before indulging in an evening of streetside caiprinhas and capoeira. Next, take an exhilarating ride along untouched beaches to the watery labyrinth of the Delta do Parnaiba, boasting over 80 sandy islets. The crown jewel of the road trip comes in the Lençóis Maranheses –1,500sqkms of arid sand dunes transformed into a spectacular water park of vast, undulating lagoons between July and September each year. Finish your trip back in the real world in the crumbling, colourful, colonial city of São Luis.
Local operator Eco Dunas can tailor a road trip itinerary to your needs.