Dear Top Gear producers, we couldn't help but notice you've been to some pretty cool locations over the years, most recently across the mountains and desert plains of Ethiopia (while we're on the subject, kudos to you on the new series, we're big fans). But this got us to thinking of a few places you've missed off the list so far. We're not talking about your run of the mill road trips, driving through pretty country roads and stopping for lunch in lovely scenic spots, but dramatic mountain passes with hairpin bends and uneven terrain, sure to test your driving ability. So without further ado, here are some of the best roads in the world where we think you should head next...
Haast Pass, New Zealand
Located on New Zealand's South Island, the spectacular Haast Pass takes you from Wanaka to the west coast through the Southern Alps, at an elevation of up to 1,850 feet above sea level. Expect winding roads with blind curves and hairpin bends, as well as incredible scenery comprised ofof mountains, glaciers, forests and lakes (including the beautiful Lake Wanaka), all in one five-hour drive.
The Prince Albert Pass, South Africa
Located in the Western Cape, the Prince Albert Pass sits at an elevation of 3,400 feet above sea level and winds through dense forest and climbs around 2,300 feet in just eight and a half miles. The route stretches from Avonturr in the Klein Karoo to the coast either at Knysna or Plettenberg Bay, and there is plenty of indigenous flora and fauna to admire along the way as you travel through the Middle Keurbooms Conservancy. This is a challenging drive made up mostly of gravel track with plenty of hairpin bends, and the route can get very muddy after the rain so we definitely don't recommend this as a wet weather activity.
Espinaza Del Diablo (a.k.a. The Devil's Backbone), Mexico
Known for its hairpin bends and zigzag turns, the 'Devil's Backbone' lies almost entirely over 6,500 feet above sea level, located in the west of Mexico around the Sierra Madre mountains. Drive across dozens of deep ravines, through mountains and along bumpy terrain on what is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. This certainly isn't one for the faint- hearted, but if you can brave it then your reward is some incredible panoramic views across the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Vrsic Pass, Slovenia
The Vrsic Pass is found in the Julian Alps, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery that could be straight out of The Sound of Music. At an elevation of around 5,300 feet, this is the highest mountain pass in Slovenia. With 50 hairpin turns and dramatic views as you climb, it's easy to see why this is one of the best driving roads. The bends are numbered along the way with the height in metres so you know how far you have left to go to reach the top. Along the way, stop off at the Russian Chapel, which was built by Russian Prisoners of war in 1917 as a memorial to those who died while constructing the pass. The road is just an hour's drive from Lake Bled, so combine the two for an epic day of scenic driving.
Curvas de Huanchaca, Peru
This stretch of road may be only six miles long, but it certainly packs a lot in. Expect to climb nearly 2,300 feet to a height of 9,500 feet above sea level, and wind your way up 24 hairpin bends. The road is located near the Urubamba Valley in the Peruvian Andes and is one of the most famous hair-pinned roads in the world. With only one -car- wide tracks and no safety fences, this is one of the best driving roads that is definitely not for the faint- hearted.
Etosha to Victoria Falls, Namibia & Zimbabwe
Travel through Namibia from Etosha National Park up to the Caprivi Strip and across the border to the mighty Victoria Falls. If it's a wildlife-centric road trip you're after, this is the best driving road for you. Etosha is one of Namibia's best wildlife spotting destinations, so look out for desert elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and plenty more. Then drive north-eastwards towards the Okavango River and the Caprivi Strip, admiring the total change of scenery from the arid desert to the lush riverbanks. Then continue across the border through Botswana and into Zimbabwe to marvel at the magnificent Victoria Falls. An SUV is highly recommended for this drive, as the gravel roads are much easier to navigate with bigger wheels.