Book Review: “Epic Drives of the World”

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 Caleb Cook

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Whether you’re just an armchair traveler or in the midst of planning an actual trip, browsing Epic Drives of the World will provide you with plenty of motivation to slide behind the wheel and head out in search of open-road adventure. In the pages of this book, you’ll encounter lush photography, vivid first-person essays, and 200 road-trip ideas to engage your imagination.

Epic Drives of the World: Explore the Planet’s Most Thrilling Road Trips (Lonely Planet)

Product Details: Hardcover, 328 pages
Retail Price: $35.00
Publication Date: Aug. 15, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-7865-7864-8
Publisher: Lonely Planet

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Summary and Review

Written by a team of 33 travel writers, Epic Drives of the World gathers 50 essays on the world’s most exciting and scenic drives, from leisurely coastal spins and wine country excursions to wilderness treks and white-knuckle mountain journeys. 

As you might expect, with so many different authors, the essays vary in tone, although most of them take a relaxed yet informative first-person approach, with plenty of information on geography, regional history, and what you can expect to see on your journey.

The trips covered here are organized into five geographical sections: Africa and the Middle East, Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

  • In the Africa and the Middle East section, you’ll find entries for a self-driving safari in Zambia and a motorcycle trip to the top of Jebel Hafeet in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Americas section includes routes like Glacier National Park’s awe-inspiring Going-to-the-Sun Road and the not-for-beginners Carretera Austral in Chile.
  • The Asia section offers suggested trips like a “top to toe” drive through South Korea and a tour of Vietnam’s historic Ho Chi Minh Road.
  • The Europe section’s choices include a stunning circuit around Iceland’s Ring Road and a food-and-scenery-heavy tour of the Picos de Europa in northern Spain.
  • A jaunt in New Zealand’s Southern Alps and a ramble down Australia’s Great Ocean Road are among the trips covered in the Oceania section.

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Each multipage essay is lavishly illustrated with color photographs and hand-drawn maps. Essays also include a sidebar with general information on the trip’s length, the best seasons to visit, and places to eat and stay. 

At the end of every entry is a “More Like This” section with a trio of additional road-trip suggestions, each about a paragraph long. For example, the essay on South Africa’s Panorama Route is followed by recommendations for three more “Wondrous Vistas” in Italy, Canada, and Spain. An essay on Nepal’s Kathmandu Loop includes suggestions for three more “Himalayan Drives.”

Epic Drives of the World is an inviting book to flip through as you daydream, but it’s also easy to stop and learn more about a specific route. However, if you plan on taking any of these trips, treat this book as a starting point and be sure to invest in a more in-depth title about your intended route.

Used as a traditional travel guide, Epic Drives of the World will fall short. There just aren’t enough specifics here to provide practical assistance for planning your trip. 

That’s okay, though — this book is best approached as inspirational and aspirational reading. It’s an entertaining, absorbing way to get your wheels turning as you fantasize about your ideal trip or compile your ultimate bucket list. 

Epic Drives of the World is available through the publisher, Amazon, and independent booksellers.

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