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Friday, August 29, 2008

The world's most jawdropping drives, pt 2

Here's the second part of my pick of the world's most jawdropping drives from roads we've travelled in the last few years (read part 1 here). I've categorized these great drives by region and country, as some destinations are gifted with so many dramatically beautiful routes:
6. MOROCCO: one of our favorite road trips starts from Marrakesh, heading east to Essaouira, then south via the surfing spots dotting the coast down to Agadir, before turning inland toward the walled city Taroudant, and on to other-worldly Ouarzazate, Zagora and the tiny hamlet Mhmed, the last stop before the Sahara, returning to Marrakesh via the Atlas Mountains. The trip took us through moonlike landscapes, sublime desert scenery, abandoned mountain palaces, Berber desert citadels, and date palm oases. Magical!
we once drove from Koh Samui (via a car ferry) across the south of Thailand to Phuket. This route takes you through lush green tropical landscapes boasting striking limestone mountains and impenetrable jungle. On the way are tiny towns with bustling markets and diversions such as elephant trekking and whitewater rafting, but the drive itself with the stunning scenery was enough to keep us satisfied.

: the roads may be in a poor state, pot-holed and breaking away in parts, and the Cyrillic signs mean you need to continually refer to your dictionary, yet other than that driving in Bulgaria is a road trippers' dream, with idyllic rural landscapes with lush green meadows carpeted with wildflowers, where ramshackle villages tumble down mountainsides, and striking war monuments appear in the most surprising places. You'll have to frequently stop for cows and
families will pass you on wooden horses and carts, but that's part of the fun of it.
9. MUSANDAM, OMAN: from the UAE border to Khasab, the sleepy capital of the Musandam Peninsula of Oman, a road skirts the magnificent coast, taking you by majestic forts, mosques with pretty minarets, date palm oases, hills topped with watchtowers, and small coves where fisherman haul in nets. The whole way you have on one side sheer rocky mountains and on the other the turquoise sea. (For more info, see my story 'Dhows, dolphins and smugglers' published in the January issue of Get Lost magazine here)
there's a drive in the Liwa region through the sandy desert near the border with Saudi Arabia that snakes through massive peach- and apricot-coloured sand dunes. There's very little vegetation, just an occasional small shrub, and the dunes are dotted with long-lashed camels. This is real Lawrence of Arabia stuff! As the sand is continually shifting it dramatically 'bleeds' across the road from time to time. (Read more in my story 'Dubai's Desert Escapes' published in Lifestyle+Travel magazine, available

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