There’s a real sense of freedom that comes with getting behind the wheel and commanding an unknown road – you just don’t know where it will take you.
To celebrate Mercedes-Benz’s new generation GLS – their most luxurious SUV yet – we take a look at the world’s most inspiring road trips to encourage you to take whatever life throws at you (and help get your mind off a long, traffic-clogged commute). Make the best of every ground because there’s an adventure to meet head on in every corner of the globe.
ICEFIELDS PARKWAY, CANADA
Canada is famous for its picture book landscapes and this looped path captures the best of what the country has to offer. Beginning in Calgary, head west for around 135 kilometres and you’ll hit the Banff National Park where you step into postcard-perfect, snow dusted mountain-ringed lakes are a dime a dozen. Head north, to Jasper, where the pristine surrounds still keep passing by your window. The whole loop, from Calgary to Edmonton via the Highway 93 north will take around 9 hours but allowing time to stop frequently for hikes that are suitable for everyone in the family is advised – you don’t want to miss these photos opps.
NORTH COAST 500, SCOTLAND
A stone’s throw from London, this lonely, atmospheric stretch of Scottish road is are the perfect place for a young family to go exploring. Beginning (and finishing) in the northern Scottish town of Inverness, the route loops around the outer edges of Scotland’s very northern corners. And don’t think it’s all rugged Scottish hills: while there’s plenty of those, the route offers more than just that. As it’s mostly coastal, there are secluded sands as well as towering mountains, craggy, atmospheric caves and endless oh-so-Scottish pubs to thaw in, if you’re taking your tour in winter. You simply haven’t seen what Scotland has to offer if you haven’t taken this route.
THE RING ROAD, ICELAND
There are few landscapes in the world that seem as though they belong on another planet. With so many topographical contrasts, Iceland seems like a world of its own. On the two-lane ring road that loops the island-sized nation, you’ll pass places from the comfort of your own car that have to be seen to be believed: from fiery, active volcanos (the country has around 130 of them), to sleek, glossy glaciers as well as hot springs and iceberg lagoons. Most visitors take ten days for the 1332 kilometre stretch but however long you take, we advise always keep a little petrol in the tank – it’s not uncommon to get caught in a place where no help abounds. But that’s all part of the isolated, quality family-time fun.
SALAR DE UYANI, BOLIVIA
It’s almost as if this landscape was made for driving. Perfectly flat, perfectly unique and perfectly beautiful, the Bolivian salt flats are unlike anything you’re likely to have encountered. In fact, as it’s the world’s largest salt flat, covering over 10,500 square kilometres of the southwestern corner of the country, it’s the only one of its kind. After rain, when the flats transform into a giant mirror blanketing the ground, it’s akin to driving on a cloud, with nothing but the sky stretching out in all directions, both above and below you. Just don’t forget your sunglasses – the glare from the white flats can be intense.
EASTERN PENINSULA, TASMANIA
Perfect for a weekend exploration from the island’s urban areas, this is more a collection of drives than a straightforward stretch but the twists and turns you’ll encounter on your meandering down the eastern edge of Tasmania are worth the occasional detour. Making your way north east from Launceston, a picturesque route aptly named The Gardens Road slides down against the Bay of Fires, where calm, crystal clear waters and white sands rule. It’ll take you less than two hours to head down to Freycinet on the island’s tiny eastern peninsula where the Tasman Arch and the Devil’s Kitchen tempt you into the national park. It’s rugged, deserted and completely beautiful.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TO MUSCAT, OMAN
The four hour route from UAE’s capital to the desert sands of Muscat, the capital of ruggedly exotic Oman, is popular with expats and professionals looking for an adventure just across the border. Although you’ll likely drive past crevasses without a second thought, the beauty of the mountainous desert landscapes of Oman have to be ventured into: while the mountains that line the highways just across the border are deceptively devoid of vegetation, detours into wadis – like Hatta Lake, above – reveal lush, tropical hideaways where villagers and date palms peek out of corners. The landscapes towards Muscat are a little less atmospheric but south of the city there are endless cracks into the cliffs that reveal quiet towns of rocky, untouched beauty.
THE ROAD TO HANA, HAWAII
The north-eastern curl of coast that is the Hana Highway may be short but it’s utterly stunning. At a touch over 70 kilometres long, you could knock it over in a few hours but we’d recommend taking your foot off the accelerator – after all, if you’re on holiday, take a leaf out of the Hawaiian book – they really know how to enjoy their quality family and leisure time properly. Noteworthy stops along the way include 100 year-old mango trees, waterfalls and of course, plenty of beaches. The real highlight though, is driving on the roads that are cut dramatically into lush mountains of tropical forest sliding off into the ocean – now’s the time for your confidence behind the wheel to kick in. This is coastal driving at its best.
Life’s what you make it, so make life the best of every ground and experience the new Mercedes-Benz GLS. To see more, visit Mercedes-Benz.