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Going off the beaten path

There’s nothing quite like renting a car, winding down the window to catch the breeze, and hitting the open road to explore uncharted territory. From desert drives to a coastal cruise or even a gourmet voyage, here are some of the best places in the world to experience life on the road.

The Coast : Greece

Travel back in ‘time’ to discover the authentic Greek way of life. Start your journey in ancient Athens with a tour of its iconic sites, from the impressive Parthenon to the world-famous Acropolis, then discover the local way of life in quaint Peloponnese villages. Here, take a break from driving to enjoy activities such as hiking, kayaking or even quad biking through scenic surroundings. The well-reserved Mani Peninsula offers the chance to unearth completely unspoilt villages, Byzantine-era churches and rustic stone towers. For a touch of modern comfort, wind down with a spa at the tiny town of Gerolimenas, before moving on to explore the medieval walled town of Monemvasia.

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The Desert : Namibia

Begin your adventure by heading south to Namib Naukluft National Park, where you’ll
find the rust-coloured dunes of Sossusvlei. A hike to the top of the tallest dune, Big Daddy, followed by a walk through the eerie treescape of Dead Vlei, will allow guests to capture the dramatic dune sea in a seriously Insta-worthy photograph. The epic road trip then continues on to Swakopmund, Namibia’s quaint coastal town, with an abundance of good restaurants offering delicious seafood. For thrill seekers, activities such as a quad bike tour, sandboarding, or even kayaking with seals are available.

The journey continues northwards to the dramatic landscapes of Damaraland, before finally stopping at the inspiring Okonjima, home of the AfriCat he final stop is at the inspiring Okonjima, home of the AfriCat Foundation, where rescued big cats are rehabilitated and given a home. The activities here focus on cats, with morning and afternoon visits to their enclosures, providing great opportunities for close-up photography.

The Island: Iceland

After touching down in Iceland, guests will experience the charming buzz of Reykjavik, before embarking on a journey along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to Hvalfjörður. It’ll be
hard not to stop along the way with breath-taking geological formations such as Glýmur, the country’s highest waterfall, or the unique Eldborg crater.

At Snaefellsnes, a break from driving can be spent with riding lessons on Icelandic horses, or with a visit to picturesque fishing villages. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of the best locations to spot sperm whales and orcas in Iceland, as well as white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. Upon driving back inland, continue south to the last stop to explore the Vidgelmir lava tube and its fascinating rock formations.

The Family Trip: Amman to The Dead Sea

An action packed family adventure ideal for children from ages 8 and above awaits in Jordan. The trip starts in the capital of Amman, where visitors can check out highlights such as the Roman Theatre and the Citadel to learn about the city’s ancient heritage. It’s
then a three and a half hour drive from Amman to Petra, where dramatic vistas, colourful caves and mysterious temples will impress the whole family. After watching the sun go down over the desert, guests can spend the night in an unforgettable setting camping under the stars. A trip to Jordan isn’t complete without a float in the Dead Sea – famous for its incredibly buoyant salty water – before a stay at Kempinski Ishtar for a perfect end to a memorable week.

The Culinary : San Francisco to Napa Valley, California

Who says you can’t enjoy luxury while on a road trip?  For gourmet highlights, head to  renowned restaurant hotspot, San Francisco, and one of the greatest wine destinations, Napa Valley. The journey starts off in San Francisco, with a drive North across the Golden Gate bridge for a stay at Cavallo Point. While there, it’s essential to indulge in a cooking class, or for something new, a special workshop on local or ancient produce. 

The next stop is Napa Valley, which boasts some of the finest farm-to-fork restaurants, and then on to  the stunning Sonoma Valley for a stay at Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant, with its own Michelin starred chef, world class maitre d’ and master sommelier. While in Sonoma, spend a day out with an expert wine-buff to meet a beer sommelier and sample local produce. Then loop back to San Francisco, ideally with bags full of fine wines to enjoy once home. 

**Scott Dunn offers itineraries for the above at scottdunn.com