South Africa

Five drives you simply must take

The American writer and intellectual Susan Sontag wrote, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”– and for many of us, the looming holiday season is a welcome opportunity for travel.

Serving more than 160 destinations worldwide from their Doha hub, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways’ crew get to go lots of places, often. They share some of their favourite routes:

WINDING. A tourist bus in New Zealand on its way from Milford Sound. Picture: iStock
WINDING. A tourist bus in New Zealand on its way from Milford Sound. Picture: iStock

Milford Road, New Zealand:

The landscape was carved by glaciers over millennia, leaving steep mountains and deep valleys. The road into the heart of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area showcases the best of it. Look out for the Mirror Lakes, which perfectly reflect the Earl Mountains on a still day, as well as the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, where an optical illusion causes a mountain to look smaller the closer you get to it.

Tip: Consider taking a bus and enjoy the views.

WILD RIDE. Desert off-roading in Qatar is a blast. Picture: iStock
WILD RIDE. Desert off-roading in Qatar is a blast. Picture: iStock

Desert off-roading, Qatar:

As a passenger in an air-conditioned four-wheel-drive vehicle, you will experience gut-swooping dives and careening swerves on massive, steep sand-dunes. The outing usually includes lunch on the seashore, and perhaps a camel-ride.

Tip: The vehicles are usually more comfortable than the camels.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Chapman’s Peak Drive, SA:

At 9km long, this is a fairly short drive, but it has 114 curves as the road negotiates the rocky mountainside of Cape Town.The seascapes are eye-popping.

Tip: Book a trip on an open topped bus and spend a day touring the entire peninsula down to the tip of the continent, Cape Point, and along False Bay. The buses offer audio commentary in 15 languages.

BREATHTAKING. View of Lysebotn fjord on the cliffs near Kjerag. Picture: iStock
BREATHTAKING. View of Lysebotn fjord on the cliffs near Kjerag. Picture: iStock

Lysebotn Road, Norway:

Norway is known for its postglacial landscapes of vertiginous rockfaces and deep, dark fjords but the areas of Lysebotn and Kjerag are spectacular even by those standards.

The Kjerag plateau shelters the sheer 1 000m Lysebotn massif from weathering, so it’s barely eroded since the Ice Age. And the road? It was built in 1985 to provide access to a hydroelectric power-station, and it winds in a series of 27 serpentine hairpin-bends, climbing 800m. At the summit is a restaurant and several hiking-trails.

SPECTACULAR. Part of the Amalfi coastline. Picture: iStock
SPECTACULAR. Part of the Amalfi coastline. Picture: iStock

Amalfi Coast, Italy:

Regarded as the epitome of a Mediterranean land- and seascape, the 50km stretch of craggy coastline winds past fishing villages, churches and villas, lemon groves, vineyards and woodland. The coast and 13 seaside towns and villages are connected by the SS163 motorway, which has good public transport. Being Italy, the food is superb, say the crew.

Their recommendation? The Paccheri The coast and 13 seaside towns and villages are connected by the SS163 motorway, which has good public transport. Being Italy, the food is superb, say the crew. Their recommendation? The Paccheri conlarana pescatrice: (similar to rigatoni, but flatter and wider), with fried monkfish, garlic and tomato.

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