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The World’s Top Overland Routes

The World’s Top Overland Routes

- May 20, 2023

You know the feeling – you’ve spent a few days away exploring the wilderness and now wanderlust has set in. Perhaps it’s time for a sabbatical or long leave? Or if you are feeling really brave then why not pack in the job, sell the house, take the kids out of school and hit the world’s overland trails for several months or even years. But where to go? ​


When you speak to people who overland for a living – people such as Kingsley Holgate, Ron Moon or Graeme Bell – their faces light up when their talk turns to their personal bucket list of overland trails or routes. ​

We’re not sure what those guys would suggest, but here’s our list of epic overland trails: ​


© Craig Kolesky

Cape Town to Cairo ​

No other continent possesses the allure of Africa. The people, wildlife, suspension-challenging tracks and wide-open spaces make it an overlander’s paradise. And African adventures don’t come bigger than the drive from Cape Town in the south to Cairo, Egypt, at the top of the continent. The easiest route takes you through Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan while more adventurous souls prefer the route along the west coast of Africa. Before undertaking an epic journey like this, here are a few important things to consider.


Simpson Desert, Australia ​

The Simpson Desert is big: 55,000 square miles big. It’s also the largest parallel dune desert in the world. To cross its 1136 dunes takes a minimum of four days, so a well-prepared 4x4 is essential – take ample water supplies, because help can take days to reach you, should you have a problem. Spend a night or two at the Dalhousie Hot Springs before starting the crossing and be sure to try the tasty camel pies at the Birdsville Bakery. A highlight of your Simpson journey is when you reach the summit of the Big Red dune, at the end of the trail. Don’t get caught without water in the desert. Front Runner’s 20 or 42 litre Pro Water Tank will help you do just that. ​


© Dylan Decker

Pan-American Highway ​

The Pan-American Highway is considered by many to be the ultimate road trip. Stretching 17,000 miles, this makes it the world’s ‘longest motorable road’ according to the Guinness Book of World Records. If you drive 350 miles a day, it will take you 50 days to complete. We say take a minimum of six months to do it. ​

The official route includes Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Lots of folk start their trips in Alaska, thereby adding the United States and Canada to that official list. They also like to include Argentina at the end. Famously there is a short section between Colombia and Panama, known as the Darién Gap – you’ll need to ship your vehicle across unless you have a large, highly skilled support team, and heaps of spare parts. ​


© Federico Zampedri

London to Singapore

In 1955 several Oxford and Cambridge university students set off from London in two Land Rovers. Seven months, 12,000 miles and many adventures later, they arrived in Singapore. Expedition member Tim Slessor wrote a book about it called The First Overland , which has since become the inspiration for many an overlanding adventure. In 2019, one of the original Land Rovers from that trek left Singapore to drive back to London. Fittingly, this expedition was called The Last Overland and Alex Bescoby’s book of the same name is worth a read. As you can imagine the expeditions used different routes due to the ever-changing political landscapes. Both were able to visit Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar but for the rest, they took different routes. The First Overland used a more southern route taking in places like India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria while the Last Overland used a more northerly route and rather went through Nepal, China and some of the Stans. ​


© Frauki


People love using geographical points as an excuse for an overland adventure and Nordkapp, the most northern point in mainland Europe, is one such place. It lies at the northernmost tip of mainland Norway and to reach it you will enter the Artic Circle, another geographical notch on your travel post. How do you get there? Simple, head for Norway and head for the most northern point on a map. Brace yourself for spectacular scenery before the finish at the Nordkapp’s iconic steel globe sculpture which overlooks the Barents Sea. Depending on the time of year you’re there, you may even get dazzled by the Northern Lights. 

© Front Runner

Wildebeest migration in Kenya or Tanzania ​

If you’re looking for one reason to do an overland trip in Africa, then this should be it; imagine being witness to 1.5 million wildebeest migrating over the east African savannah. The best thing about this is that they don’t travel alone – they bring lions, cheetahs and hyenas along with them. Make sure you go to the right place at the right time as these animals move between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya.​

© Expedition Rove

North Coast 500, Scotland ​

Is this the most beautiful 500-mile stretch of road in the world? We certainly think so. Kick off the route in Inverness and head west to the coast. But first, you’ll have to make your way up the steep and winding singletrack Pass of the Cattle, the steepest in all of Scotland. Stop at the Applecross Inn for some fresh seafood before taking in the west coast where you’ll discover a postcard picture around every corner. White beaches, salmon smokehouses, single malt distilleries and rugged mountains, this route has it all. ​


© Even Tryggstrand

Iceland and the Northern Lights ​

Every year the number of tourists who visit this incredible country increases dramatically. Most of them do the 130-mile Golden Circle, taking in incredible attractions such as the Great Geysir and the Gullfoss Waterfall. Research how best to kit out your 4x4 for Iceland’s unique environment and go where mainstream tourists can’t – the uninhabited Icelandic Highlands are a good starting point. The volcanic deserts you’ll find are a great place from which to enjoy the Northern Lights in relative peace. Nothing beats lying awake in your Front Runner Roof Tent while watching the Northern Lights dance away in the night sky. ​

© David Robins

The Canning Stock Route, Australia​

They call this the toughest four-wheel drive track in the world, rightfully so, with the perception that everything is bigger and more dangerous Down Under… It runs from Halls Creek in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia to Wiluna in the mid-west region: stretching 1,150 miles, it’s the longest historical stock route in the world. It was created in 1910 to connect a series of wells that the stockmen used to get their cattle south to the market. The remote nature of the trail and the fact you must cross dunes means it’s not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced.