The Road Photo.
A concept I was introduced to by my cousin, Katie.
On long trips through Africa as teenagers, she would regularly make us pull over the car – not for rare animals, distant mountain ranges, or even food – we would pull over because the road ahead was the ‘perfect road photo’.
EDIT: When I shared this post with her, Katie sent me this back:
“There is nothing with more unspoken potential than a road curving ahead that you will follow in to the unknown”
Amen to that!
Thanks to her incredible teachings, I’ve become a bit of a road photo connoisseur over the years. Rarely a trip goes by where I don’t pull the car over into some muddy ditch to get out and photograph the road ahead.
She really appreciates it 😉
And before you start thinking a road photo can be any old road you like, there are some pretty important rules to abide by here:
Firstly, the photo has to be road dominant. We’re not talking distant roads stuck on the edge of a mountain, the road is the reason we’re taking this snap. It has to be front and centre, shown off the the world in all its glory. Ideally you would include the vehicle on which you travelled the road in the photo too, but this can be overlooked if the road itself is good enough.
Secondly, this has to be a road you’re travelling on in a vehicle. No photos of roads you’ve taken from a plane, or ones you’re just walking on (you walkers are the worst for road photo abuse). Bikes, cars, buses, we don’t car, but it ain’t no road photo unless you’ve put some wheels on it.
Thirdly, it has to be a road. No paths, byways or bridleways allowed here. Passable (and legal) to be driven on by a car are the rules.
So as you can see, this road photo stuff is pretty strict, and certainly not to be missed with.
Thankyou Katie for showing me the ways of the road photo, this post is for you.
So without further ado, here are some of the most beautiful road photos I’ve taken on my travels around the world.
P.S. if you want to discover the exact location of these shots, check out the map at the bottom of the page
- 1) Kruger National Park, South Africa
- 2) Sutton, UK
- 3) Praslin Island, Seychelles
- 4) Tam Coc, Vietnam
- 5) Near Plitvice, Croatia
- 6) Ayutthaya, Thailand
- 7) Rosedale Chimney, Yorkshire, UK
- 8) The Great Ocean Road, Australia
- 9) Somewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 10) The Thakhek Loop, Laos
- 11) Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Town, South Africa
- 12) Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
- 13) Black Spur Drive, Victoria, Australia
- 14) Medieval Stecci, Croatia
1) Kruger National Park, South Africa
For the first road photo I had to start here, Kruger National Park. This was the first place the concept of a ‘road photo’ was shared with me. If Katie still has her photos from 20 years ago, she’ll discover alot that look like this – long sweeping roads under endless skies, often being crossed by a mega-beast of some kind. This particular one was taken back in 2012, somewhere near the Lower Sabie Rest Camp.
2) Sutton, UK
Long before I was writing about travel, I had a little cycling blog. This photo was taken a few miles from our home in Bedfordshire on one of the many hundreds of rides I did in the area. Oh, and it counts as a road on account of it being passable by car. Roads in the UK can be pretty small!
3) Praslin Island, Seychelles
This road photo was taken on a humid day in the Seychelles. The highest point on Praslin Island is (rather strangely) called Zimbabwe and it’s an incredibly steep drive to get to the top. There is nothing wrong with the alignment of the photo above, this was the actual angle of the road!
4) Tam Coc, Vietnam
We had never ridden a scooter before, and had no license, but laws are a little looser in Vietnam (and so were are fears!). We survived unscathed after the most amazing day investigating the incredible landscapes of Trang An.
5) Near Plitvice, Croatia
Croatia was one of those trips that exceeded all expectations. We did a 12 day road-trip from north to south and it quickly became one of our favourite countries. This photo was taken close to Plitvice National Park, on a long road that dropped down from the ancient forested mountains onto miles of flat valleys. Shortly after this we saw a bear – well we thought we did. It turned out to be a sheepdog, but it was a very big sheepdog, so every cloud and all that.
6) Ayutthaya, Thailand
On our three month sabbatical around Southeast Asia, we stopped for a day in Ayutthaya. This ancient city – which is full of huge temples and palaces – used to be the capital of Siam. We took to some just-as-ancient hire bikes to explore the ruins and got this photo of a line of elephants as we had pulled over for a drink of water at the side of the road.
7) Rosedale Chimney, Yorkshire, UK
The Rosedale Chimney is one of the steepest roads in England, getting to a maximum gradient of 33%! Whilst this photo isn’t quite it, it’s only a couple of kilometres away and I can assure you I went on shortly after to conquer the ‘Chain Breaker‘. The reason I chose this photo rather than one from the hill itself is because of the writing on the road. A few weeks beforehand the first ever ‘Tour de Yorkshire‘ had passed through, and the writing was to encourage cycling hero Bradley ‘Wiggo’ Wiggins, the first ever British winner of the Tour de France in 2012, who had competed in his local race.
8) The Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road luges the coastline between Geelong and Warrnambool in Victoria, Australia. It is regularly voted as being in the top 10 best drives in the world. This photo was taken on the road out of Anglesea, looking over to Split Point Lighthouse on the other site of the bay.
9) Somewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina
This amazing road photo was taken somewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country really wasn’t what we expected (read this post to see exactly why) with landscapes that could have easily been from the Andes. It was a truly astonishing experience. We also got very lost on this trip thanks to an over-optimistic sat nav, that took us on roads which were barely passable. Due to this, I don’t know exactly where this photo was taken, but it was somewhere is Bosnia and Herzegovina! If you find it, let me know, as it’s still a bit of a mystery!
10) The Thakhek Loop, Laos
The Thakhek Loop in Laos is normally driven by motorcycle, but we did it in a pickup. The local geology has produced huge limestone karsts which stick out like teeth either side of the road. Under these are hundreds of caves, one of which was recently discovered to contain hundreds of ancient Buddha statues. It was near this that I took the photo above, on a road that looks like it could be from deep in the Australian outback.
11) Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Town, South Africa
I’m not sure how well the photo above will work on smaller screens, as it was taken as a panorama. It is me, propped up against a hire car on Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is about 20 minutes from Cape Town in South Africa. The whole Cape Peninsula is worth a drive, with Simon’s Town, Muizenberg and Cape Point all within a short loop, but Chapman’s Peak takes the win for me! It’s a small toll road clinging to the age of the cliffs, with incredible views back over Hout Bay such as the one above. Paradise!
12) Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
No, I’m not breaking the rules, this really is a road! On Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, we hired another little scooter to take us out to the more remote areas. This shot was taken on the small road up to an old fort which had incredible views out to a Ha-Long-esque bay. Unfortunately we didn’t ever get to see Ha Long Bay itself due to a huge tropical storm, but that’s travel or you!
13) Black Spur Drive, Victoria, Australia
Black Spur Drive is a road that we stumbled upon just outside Healesville in Victoria. The 27km stretch of tarmac twists through a forest of huge eucalyptus trees, which are second in size only to the great redwoods of North America. It could easily be the set for the next Jurassic Park movie ‘Jurassic Park 23: Dinos go Walkabout‘ with the damp ferns and dark undergrowth creating an atmospheric location.
14) Medieval Stecci, Croatia
I’m a sucker for a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so we drove a long way off our intended route to see these Medieval graves whilst in Croatia. It’s not often your manage to get a UNESCO site in to a road photo though, so extra points to me for creativity!
Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical
I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets.
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Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.
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