The Karakoram Highway. Known informally as the KKH, the Karakoram Highway is considered the highest paved international road in the world. It’s certainly one of the world’s most spectacular. Tracing one of the many pathways of the ancient Silk Road, the KKH is often called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed. It took 20 years to complete. The highway runs about 1,300km (800 miles) from Abbattabad in Pakistan to Kashgar in China, connecting the two neighbors across the Karakorum mountain ranges and includes the highest border crossing in the world: Khunjerab Pass at an elevation of 4,714 meters (15,466 feet).
And now it is the winning entry in the Mountain Road category of the DHL’s World’s Best Road contest.
Karakoram Highway is heaven for motorcyclists.Muhammad Wali from Pakistan
“Karakoram Highway is heaven for motorcyclists,” writes Muhammad Wali from Pakistan in his entry. If you’ve ridden it, you know he’s right. It’s certainly one of the scariest and hair raising rides in the world, but it also makes a fabulous road trip. Loads of towns line the highway, where locals set up stalls to sell handmade necklaces and felt rugs and offer authentic Chai Tea. Camels, yaks, sheep and goats greet you in the grasslands, while thousands of ancient rock carvings decorate the daunting cliffs in the mountains.
The question is: will the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ be crowned the World’s Best Road? After the Great Ocean Road in Australia was selected as the Best Coastal Road, the competition is already fierce. Now we’ll have to wait until the Plains/Desert winner is chosen.
Enter and win at www.dhl.com/WorldsBestRoad
The best of the best
With over 500 entries, we were tuned in to a lot of remarkable road trips. India’s Manali Highway was a popular entry. The 490-km (300-mile) mixture of Himalayan asphalt and dirt is only open for about four and a half months a year – between May/June and mid-October, depending on when the snow conditions. One entrant writes: “Riding through the amazing valleys and the mountain passes with the serene surrounding is something which will be captured in your heart forever.”
Stelvio Pass in northern Italy was another top pick. Rising to an elevation of 2,757 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level, it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps and the third highest in the Alps. In 2008, Top Gear voted it the best driving road in the world. Several contestants wrote that they dream of riding it: “Stelvio pass has to be the ultimate mountain road in the world it has all the twisty bits and breathtaking scenery to
boot, would love to ride it! On the bucket list!”
Romania’s Transfagarasan Highway is on many of bucket lists as well. Crossing the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains, many consider it to be one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It’s sharp, hairpin turns are a challenge for any driver. One contestant even waxed poetic: “Many roads are built to challenge nature. To cut a scar in the face of a mountain and ride the wounds through the most direct ways. Others, however, let themselves flow down the hills and steeps. Like a river pouring down the creeks and curves of sleeping stone giants. Such a road is Transfagarasan.”
Next up: Plains/Desert Roads
Wide open stretches and views as far as the eye can see. For many bikers, the open road is the ultimate embodiment of freedom. Maybe you think of Route 66 – once the ‘Main Street of America’ winding its way from Chicago to Los Angeles over 3,900km (2,451 miles). Today it’s a historic road with seemingly endless vistas, countless cafes, motels and souvenir shops. Or perhaps Argentina’s famous Ruta National 40 comes to mind – a 5,000-km (3,100-mile) epic adventure stretching from the southern tip of the country to the Bolivian border. The southern half takes you across seemingly endless vastness of the Patagonian high plains.
There’s nothing better than the freedom of riding on an open road on a sunny day.Mark Webber
Whether you have ridden it before or yearn for the opportunity, you probably have a favorite – one that you believe is the world’s best road. Tell us what it is and why, and you could win the ride of a lifetime: a ride on DHL’s World’s Best Road on your motorbike alongside nine-time Formula One Grand Prix winner and bike enthusiast Mark Webber, delivered by DHL!
Enter and win at www.dhl.com/WorldsBestRoad