Whether it’s your first car or your brand new SUV or your super bike… your Travel Bucket List isn’t really complete without that one exciting and fulfilling road trip you’ve always wanted to do! While most of us take more than a few weekend road trips an year, planning a once-in-a-lifetime road trip is also a MUST.
Careful planning, tanking up, maps & GPS armed, music loaded and you hit the road! It is the beautiful countryside on the way, the pit stops you take a small local joints or perhaps that odd misadventure – that makes the road trip memorable! In fact, road trips are probably what they had in mind when they said ‘the journey is often more fun than the actual destination’…
Three of you shared highlights of your exciting road trip experiences – in New Zealand, India and Turkey to get the rest of us inspired to get onto our next one!
Driving through mystical lakes and mountains in New Zealand!
Amarja: Within hours of driving through New Zealand’s scenic South Island, it becomes clear that you are in fact in Middle earth and you expect to see Shadowfax bounding out from the woods on the next curve in the road.
The grey mountains and mystical lakes you saw in Lord of the Rings were not entirely created in a studio – the template is right here in the Kiwi wilderness.
In what feels like a short span, you find yourself driving along the coast of the Southern pacific ocean, that gradually changes to a flat table land bordered by grey dusty peaks, ending up into thick rain forest that is hiding away the beautiful glacier in Franz Josef.
The massive lakes in the South Island with the back drop of snow peaked mountains are a dramatic scene that makes even those most-travelled among us, sit in awe of this natural beauty.
Driving along in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, you go for a leisurely 15 minute stroll along an unpaved path to be greeted by 500 year old icebergs in the Tasman Glacier Lake.
As you still recover from the grandeur of age-old icebergs, you continue to drive further down south to Te Anau – the quaint town on the edge of New Zealand’s fjordland. While the Norwegian fjords are much photographed and talked about, their Southern counterparts remain unknown to many. And these fjords are as stunning in every respect. I definitely recommend a road trip down the South Island to any nature lover who doesn’t mind their jaw dropping to the floor at every curve in the road.
Is New Zealand not on your Itch List, yet? Whaaaat?! Add NOW
Driving across the Konkan Coast to Goa
Vaisakhi: Early morning, loudspeakers playing songs like ‘Rang Barse’, in an attempt to wake up a languid world for the festival of colours, and atmosphere waiting to be painted in hues of gulaal – and amidst all that I set out for my epic road trip to Goa with my family and some friends! Epic because it was the first road trip to Goa and we were doing a coastal Maharashtra to Goa (the old Goa route) – the plan was totally out of the blue, planned in just 2 days.
Crossing Alibaug, Nagaon, Janjira, Kashid, Ganpatipule, and Ratnagiri, we did manage to reach Panjim in 4 days, halting at all those places – but the best part of the trip was this journey and not Goa as the destination. This journey made me realize how beautiful the Konkan coastline is. Whizzing coastal winds, constant company of sapphire blue waters, forests, starlit nights – all of it simple yet so impactful. Some experiences are beyond words, and this sure was one of them. Guess spending days on the road does that to you.
During the trip I got a chance to connect with Indian history beyond history books. Visited a 400 century old fort in the sea, at Murud-Janjira, which was never captured by anyone ever. Also visited the Maratha wonders of Jaigad Fort and Ratna Durga. And the touch of history ended with Tikal Niwas and Thibaw Palace. Did you know the King of Burma took refuge in Ratnagiri after being banished from Myanmar and Thibaw Palace was his residence? Even I didn’t, before this trip!
But if you think I just got a nerd dose for four days, let me tell you this – India has a beautiful coastline and in many places the water is so blue that it can give tropical islands a run for their money. At almost every turn I halted the car and imbibed Nature’s spirit around me. Finding secluded small beaches, coconut and mango groves, sleeping on the side back seat of our SUV staring at the glittering night sky, dhabas in small villages and interacting with locals! Why would I want to reach a destination when the journey is so beautiful!
If you live in India and have not been to Goa, please be prepared to be judged! Add it to your itch list, right away!
The unplanned Road trip in Turkey!
After Istanbul, they headed to Bodrum in the south west Turkey, which was stunning – flanked by mountains on one side and the beautiful Aegean sea on the other. Mesmerised by the beauty of the country, the guys decided that they just have to do a road trip… to somewhere, anywhere! For the kicks of doing a road trip in Turkey!
Pamukkale, with its travertines and hot springs, seemed like the closest interesting place out of Bodrum. They rented out a Yeti at Bodrum – for a round trip self-drive deal, checked the route map and left at 5 am the next morning for Pamukkale – most of them hungover from clubbing the previous night, the sober of them doing the driving.
They used GPS most of the way to guide them en route – except one patch between Sariabat and Kale where there is no network. ‘Honestly, on this leg of the journey, we regretted not having back-up hard copy maps’, said Anish, ‘we had no network on this patch, no GPS and with our supply of food and water over, there was no restaurant or cafe in sight for a long stretch’.
Once they crossed the Sariabat to Kale patch, they drove through one of the most beautiful terrains they had seen in Turkey. Cruising at 160 Km/ Hr, their drive seemed out of a movie. Driving through, they stumbled upon a small local cafe on the highway where they had the best food they had had in the 2 weeks in Turkey! ‘If we come to Bodrum again, we will drive out just to get to this cafe again!’, said Shahid who was driving the no network leg of the trip.
After a 5 hour drive (google maps says 3.5 hours, but realistically, it takes 5 at a reasonable speed, with one brief stop), they reached Pamukkale. It was interesting and picturesque – many a movies were filmed here, in fact one South Indian movie was being filmed as the boys arrived there. But their road trip was – as they say – more exciting than the destination!
You may also like to read this – 3 generations, 5500 kms, 1 Epic Road trip in South Africa!
Picture credits: Amarja, Vaisakhi, Anish & Shahid