Fancy a roadtrip? A chance to let the rubber hit the road and put the pedal to the metal? What if I said you could jump in your car and drive from Alaska to Argentina on (almost) the same road?
That’s right, the Pan American Highway takes travellers from the icy tracks of Prudhoe Bay in the USA’s most northerly state, to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina.
It won’t shock you to learn that the Pan American dwarfs Britain’s longest motorway, the modest M6.
Starting near Rugby, the M6 works its way up through England, before reaching Gretna in Scotland, where it ends. That’s 231 miles. Quite impressive, but nothing compared to the gargantuan Pan American which is more than 82 times as long at a staggering 19,000 miles.
To put that into context, 19,000 miles is almost the entire circumference of the earth at the equator – the planet’s widest point.
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According to the Guinness World Records the Pan American is the world’s longest “motorable road”, although there is a small 66-mile rainforest break that divides Central and South America. But really, when the road is 19,000 miles on, what’s 66 miles?
Now, ‘how am I supposed to cross this insignificant 66-mile bit of rainforest?’ is a fair question. The answer is a four-day hike through the Darien Gap, which is the bit of rainforest’s name.
However, if a four-day hike doesn’t exactly tally with your idea of a roadtrip, then you can take your car by ferry from Panama to Colombia.
From start to finish the journey will see you take in an astonishing array of natural landscapes from ice and tundra and sparse deserts to tree-jammed jungles and wet rainforests.
However, if you’ve got the stomach for it (and enough petrol money), the Pan American Highway is one of the great automotive challenges on planet earth. But be warned, it can take anywhere from eight to 18 months.
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