The Long Way around: 11 Overland Routes

Overland routes are constantly evolving. While some routes do not exist anymore, or are difficult and dangerous due to human and political conflict, nevertheless, they are still famous and popular today among hardcore travellers. ATRAVELTHING/magazine published the below map with eleven of the most inspirational overland travel routes. The map was created by author Danny Selwag.

The map consists of the following routes:

  1. Trans-Canada Highway: A transcontinental highway that traverses through all the ten provinces of Canada, and one of the longest national highway network in the world. The highway passes through many cities and places, so make sure you have enough time to take it all in. Distance: 8,030km (4990mi)

  2. Route 66: The historic American Highway, also known as US66. It is called the ‘Mother Road’. While it does not exist officially, the entire route can be traversed through state and local roads. The Route 66 has a whole culture dedicated to it, which can be seen along the road along with festivals and motor cruises. Distance: 3,945km (2451mi)

  3. Pan-American HIghway: Starting at Fairbanks in Alaska and ending at Ushuaia, Argentina, (typically) the Pan-American highway has the world record for being the ‘longest motorable road in the world’. Due to the rainforest break of approximately 100km called the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between Central America and South America by road. Jake Silverstein, writing in 2006, described the Pan-American Highway as “a system so vast, so incomplete, and so incomprehensible it is not so much a road as it is the idea of Pan-Americanism itself”. It would be a wise idea to avoid areas controlled by cartels. Distance: 48,000km (30,000mi)

  4. The Gringo Trail: While it is not an official trail, the Gringo trail refers to the areas visited by ‘gringos’ (US-Americans and other foreigners) in Central and South America. The route offers a lot of cultural diversity and scenic views along the way. The Gringo trail encompasses all of Latin America, but there is no overland route between Mexico and Central America, and South America through the Darién Gap. Distance: N/A

  5. Gibraltar – North Cape: While there is no best route for overland travel around Europe, the Gibraltar-North Cape route is the shortest and most direct. Start from Gibraltar in the south and work your way up North into Norway and Finland. Go from sunny beaches in the south and above the Arctic Circle in the North. Don’t think twice about going off the route and visit other parts of Europe while you still have a chance. There are more ways to do the trip than one! Distance: 5,600km (3,480mi)

  6. Trans-Saharan Highway: One of the many overland routes in the African Continent, the Trans-Saharan highway is one of the oldest trans-national highways, and the most complete. While crossing the Sahara can get rough, continue from Lagos down to Namibia or even South Africa for a entirely new adventure! Distance: 12,000km (7500mi)

  7. Cairo-Cape Town Highway: The Cape to Cairo Road or Pan-African Highway, sometimes called the Great North Road in sub-Saharan Africa. A little detour to Namibia towards the end might be worth it. Some parts of the road is unpaved, giving a rougher journey. A word of advice: Be prepared with visas and papers for all border crossings, as well as local conflicts. Distance: 10,500km (6,500mi)
  8. The Hippie Trail: Popular among the members of the hippie subculture and others from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s the Hippie trail is the overland route between Europe and South Asia, mainly India and Nepal. The hippie trail was a form of alternative tourism, and one of the key elements was to travel as cheaply as possible, mainly to extend the length of time away from home. The basic route was from Istanbul to Delhi, but could continue onward towards either Goa, or Kathmandu. Today, it is quite difficult to attempt some sections of the hippie trail due to conflicts in the Middle East. Distance: 5,500km (3,420mi)

  9. Trans-Siberian Railway: The longest railway line in the world, the Trans-Siberian express starts from Moscow, Russia and goes across the length of the country before splitting up into three different lines towards the end: The continued Trans-Siberian(towards Vladivostok, Russia), the Trans-Mongolian (towards Beijing, via Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian (towards Beijing, China via Manchuria). Make sure to get off at places along the way to explore the cities and landmarks. Distance: Varies. The Trans-Siberian line is 9,258km (6,152mi). The Trans-Mongolian line is 7,621km (4,735mi), and the Trans-Manchurian is 8,968km (5,623mi).

  10. Banana Pancake: A nickname given to the backpacking routes around South -East Asia, the Banana Pancake does not have any geographical definitions, but consists of several shorter routes. Distance: N/A

  11. Australian Highway 1: A network of highways going around Australia, it is the longest national highway in the world and connects all the state capitals in the continent. There are several shorter routes to consider as well, such as the Explorer’s Highway, or the Great Ocean Road. Distance: 14,500 (9,000mi)

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