Best Road Trips – New Zealand, Scotland, India

In the more recent years of our adulthood, we have done quite a few road trips. But if we were to choose the most epic ones so far, there are three that come to mind. What’s amazing to realize is that the three were in three different parts of the world and completely different from one another! Here they are …

1. Road Tripping across New Zealand, South Island

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Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

New Zealand felt like Scotland on steroids mainly because of the sunny weather. It’s the most picturesque place on earth we’ve been to, ever! It’s true when people say you really have to concentrate to stay focused on the road because the landscapes are so breathtaking.

We covered multiple destinations, stayed in all types of accommodation ranging from hostels, airbnbs to a camping site in the middle of nowhere, cooked our own meals, gorged at restaurants and ate at food carts.

See our NZ road trip itinerary – click here and you can watch our vlog here.

2. Road trip from Leeds to the Scottish Highlands (Fort William, Isle of Skye)

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Somewhere in the Scottish Highlands

The highlands felt like a dream, the clouds and mist around adding to the surrealism. The English countryside along the way, sheep farms, lochs and snow covered peaks so close to the beautiful road was a first for us.

The best part was staying in a camping pod at this campsite called Bunroy park at Fort William. Sleeping snug and warm in sleeping bags, trudging to the common bathroom in the cold and making breakfast at the camp turned out to be an amazing adventure. Whisky Distillery tour at Dalwhinnie, stop over at the Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier for the most amazing mug of hot chocolate and stop over at the lookout at Laggan Dam were other highlights.

Read our post on the road trip, click here and see time-lapses captured from our action cam here.

3. Road trip from Mumbai to Agra via Udaipur & Ranthambore National Park, India

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Jeep Safari at Ranthambore National Park

There was so much diversity to our experiences on this one. We started from Mumbai and first stop was Udaipur, a lovely lake city in the state of Rajasthan. Next was open jeep safaris chasing Bengal tigers at Ranthambore and final stop was Agra, a historic town and the world renowned Taj Mahal.

Read more about this trip at these posts – Part 1 and Part 2.

Road Trip Itinerary – New Zealand South Island

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On the way to Mt. Cook, New Zealand

In the last post, we shared the amazing views and places we covered on our New Zealand road trip in a video.

This post is to share more information on the path we took and the places we covered along the way. Hopefully, it will help you get a better idea of what to cover.

The map below shows black markers and blue circles (A-G) to mark our base locations and orange markers to denote places we took day trips to from the base location or stopped at on our way between bases.

The whole trip was 10 days from Christchurch to Christchurch so we stayed in:

  • Christchurch for 2 days – 1 day of arrival, 1 day before departure
  • Spent 2  days at Franz Josef glacier and around
  • 1.5 days in Te Anau and around
  • 3 days in Queenstown and around
  • Covered Mount Cook on the way from Queenstown to Tekapo with a short detour
  • 1 day in Tekapo

The only thing we regret was not spending more time at Mt. Cook. There is a Hooker Valley hike that we could have also done instead of only the Tasman Glacier climb.

In terms of the weather, we choose March as it’s autumn so neither too hot, nor too cold. We did get a couple of cloudy/rainy days though. On the whole, 70% of the time the weather was excellent. Blue skies and cool breezes.

So go on then, plan your trips! 😀

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. How did we get around in New Zealand? A. Self-drive
  • Q. Where did we rent a car from and which car was it? A. From Go Rentals, a Toyota Corolla Compact
  • Q. How much did it cost? A. Approx. 600 NZ$ for 10 days with excess insurance
  • Q. Is it safe to drive around A. Yes very safe
  • Q. How easy or difficult is the drive A. The drive is moderately difficult in patches. There are a few routes that are hilly and you need to have a good grip on the handle for these
  • Q. Where did we stay? A. We stayed in YHA hostels and AirBnBs
    • Get SGD $45 off (approx. USD $35) on your very first Airbnb stay using this link, click here.

PS: a few call outs

All lakes are beautiful, from Lake Pukaki to Wakatipu to Hayes to Wanaka to Hawea to Moke to Tekapo! Choose anyone on a nice and bright day and it will be stunning! Moke Lake seemed to be a great site for camping and star gazing.

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Lake Hayes, New Zealand

Spend 1-2 days at Mt. Cook and do the Hooker valley track and Tasman Glacier viewpoint.

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Tasman Glacier viewpoint, New Zealand

Milford Sound is so worth it but check the weather before going. The place is prone to rainfall so there are very few days its sunny. It’s just unbelievable on a clear day.

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Milford Sound, New Zealand

Franz Josef/ Fox Glacier heli hike is perhaps the best thing you could do there. Again the weather can play a spoil sport as it did in our case so keep your schedule flexible.

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On top of Fox Glacier

Queenstown and around is great for adrenaline junkies with all sorts of adventure sports options.

On the road, you won’t find stores, eateries and fuel pumps for long distances so stock up on food and water and keep fuel tanks full.

Finally, New Zealand is too beautiful to miss so please go! 😀

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Somewhere near Queenstown, New Zealand

 

Epic Road Trip in New Zealand, South Island

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On the road in New Zealand

Less than two weeks ago we were in New Zealand!

The place is incredible and it turned to be an amazing holiday. We combined it with our love for road trips and it was just epic. Being on the road in NZ is an experience in itself and we just had to capture some of it.

Sharing with you a video from the same. It’s a bit long-ish (6 1/2 mins) but we couldn’t help it. The place is just breathtaking. See for yourself:

Our road trip was all in South Island from Christchurch to Christchurch with halts along the way. We will be sharing the details on it in a subsequent post soon.

Till then enjoy this video and get inspired! 😀

Timelapses from the Scottish Highlands

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Blue skies in Scotland

We just received the timelapse videos from our road trip in Scotland earlier this year!!! You see, our cousin had purchased a new action camera and the trip became his testing ground.

The videos are awesome and we just had to share them here. It really helps you witness how picturesque the highlands are!

We’ve combined some of them into one video. It starts with the day we were driving in to Fort William, moves onto the second day when we went exploring on an overcast day, proceeds to our last day there when we were driving out on a brighter day and the last bit is when we stopped at Dalwhinnie Distillery on the way to Edinburgh.

Check em out! 😀

Steeped in History the place that is Edinburgh

Edinburgh from Castle Hill

Edinburgh from Castle Hill

I know I’m so late in posting all that I wanted to share on the UK trip. Nonetheless, here goes …

Having covered some parts of the Scottish Highlands, we now drove to Edinburgh. After checking in we strolled around and visited the Edinburgh Castle. Thereafter, walked along the Royal Mile and picked up some souvenirs the best out of which were the lamb’s wool Scottish mufflers.

Street performance at the Royal Mile

Street performance at the Royal Mile

A bit later in the evening we landed at this great bar called The Devil’s Advocate in the old town area. This place has a reputation for serving great cocktails and according to us it holds up to this reputation. It was an amazing evening spent trying out some of the whisky selection and a couple of cocktails. In the cold weather, this was just what we needed.

The next morning, our day started with a proper English breakfast. This was something we had not had a chance to enjoy yet and so that’s what we did. A full breakfast (vegetarian option also available) of beans, toast with butter, grilled mushrooms etc. and of course, a pot of tea.

More architectural beauty at the Royal Mile

More architectural beauty at the Royal Mile

Next up, we opted for one of those free city walking tours, which turned out to be very informative and an enjoyable experience. I recommend it to everyone who is visiting a place for the first time. It gives you a sense of the place with some historical references and the company of other tourists. Once you’ve toured around on foot, you can decide where you want to come back to and spend more time.

Enjoying a walking tour

Enjoying a walking tour

The location of Diagon'd Alley from Harry Potter

The location of Diagon’s Alley from Harry Potter

The walking tour started at the Royal Mile, with a brief introduction of Edinburgh then onto certain buildings on the Royal Mile itself, some alleys, a cemetery called the Greyfriars Kirkyard and culminated at the Edinburgh National Museum. The guide was quite knowledgeable sharing plenty of history and references to Harry Potter and Game of Thrones series and inspirations for the authors dotted around town. If you are a fan, you will surely enjoy this.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard

The school which was the inspiration for Hogwarts

The school which was the inspiration for Hogwarts

The inspiration for 'He who must not be named'. He was actually an import-export trader

The inspiration for ‘He who must not be named’. He was actually an import-export trader

The walking tour made me realize how steeped in history Edinburgh truly is! It does have a pretty bloody and ruthless history though with plenty conspiracies, murders, executions and wars. There was so much history to take in that my mind just gave up keeping up after a while and instead diverted to soaking in the beautiful architecture, sounds and sights (aka men in kilts ;-)). See this short video I made to give you a feel of the old town. Can you hear the bagpipe?

In all, its a 2 hour tour with a 15 min break in between. At the end of the tour your are free to tip an amount you think is good for the guide’s effort.

Also, another tip – all museums in the UK are free of charge! 😀

So that was Edinburgh – old, charming and beautiful. One time is just not enough and I would love to go back there and discover more of this magical town!

Magical Edinburgh

Magical Edinburgh

Up next – London! I’ll see you soon 🙂

Road Tripping to the Scottish Highlands

Laggan Dam, Scottish Highlands

Laggan Dam, Scottish Highlands

Are you planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands? Don’t think twice because you won’t be disappointed.

Some people take day trips from Edinburgh for the highlands but if you can drive down and spend a few days or even a couple of days there, its going to be so worth it!

We drove down to the highlands from Leeds and the journey itself is wonderful. You pass by the English countryside with rolling fields and a sheep farm every few kilometers and blue open skies (when its not raining, it absolutely stunning). The sheep are so cute and chubby, you can’t help feel getting down and cuddling them. In the distance they are like white polka dots on a green canvas.

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English Countryside

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Sheep Farm, England

As you enter the highlands the landscape changes to peaks, mountains and Lochs. Lochs. lochs, lochs everywhere in the highlands. Along the way we also stopped at Loch Lomond and a another waterfall site called Falls of Falloch. And there are many many viewpoints with breathtaking scenery to feast your eyes upon.

Somewhere in the highlands

Somewhere in the highlands

We stayed close to Fort William at this campsite called Bunroy Park. As March is still winters we opted for the camping pod instead of carrying and pitching our own tent and this proved to be very practical in the cold and wet weather that’s notorious in the region.

Bunroy Park

Bunroy Park

The campsite is quite good with the usual facilities, a flowing stream a stone throw’s away and hills in the backdrop. This actually turned out to be a great way to enjoy the highlands.

We drove around quite a bit and visited/passed by so many Lochs, I don’t even remember the names now. We visited the Glenfinan Viaduct (the bridge in Harry Potter where the Hogwarts Express crosses, see here). You can even time your visit to see a train pass by!

At a Loch in the highlands

At a Loch in the highlands

Laggan Dam is a place worth mentioning. Winters I guess had cast its own hues and shades and transformed the place so beautifully. See below.

Laggan Dam, Scotland

Laggan Dam, Scotland

We also visited the Eilean Donan Castle and it was quite interesting in my opinion. Its located at the intersection of three Lochs and was a strategic location for the clan Mackenzie.

We then went onwards to Isle of Skye and back via taking a ride on the barge along with the car on board.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

And oh, we also did a Whisky distillery tour at Dalwhinnie! Dalwhinnie is such a cute hamlet and we were told its the coldest village in the highlands – as cold as Iceland. We were in fact almost at level with the snow capped mountains there and it had even snowed the previous night.

Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie

As we were driving back to Edinburgh, we stopped at this awesome chocolatier which was highly recommended. This is located at Grandtully and goes by the name of Iain Burnett – The Highland Chocolatier. Its in a traditional bungalow and houses a cafe and a shop. We tried their Hot Chocolate and it was the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! The sandwiches were good too!

Iain Burnett

Iain Burnett

Overall, we spent just about 2.5 days in the highlands but it was so amazing! I hope my experience gives you a few good tips on how you want to spend your time there.

More on the UK trip coming soon!

Blue skies

Blue skies and the countryside

Road Trippin continued

Jeep safari Ranthambore

Jeep safari Ranthambore

After Udaipur, we were headed to Sawai Madhopur also in the state of Rajasthan in India. The main motive for going all the way was to be able to do jeep safaris in the Ranthambore National Park, home of the Asian tigers!

After a point from Udaipur, the road quality deteriorates so the going can be quite slow. The roads also get narrower, poorly lit and quite isolated so its advisable to do the entire run in daylight.

Well we did have to cover some distance after the sky lost its color and it wasn’t the best drive we’d had. The drive further becoming treacherous with the invasion of dogs, cows and camels right in the middle of the highway. And a near miss from a head-on collision with a discarded piece of machinery carelessly left on the side of the road.

Packed up for the jeep safari

Packed up for the jeep safari

The place we stayed at was quite nice and after a piping hot dinner on a wintry night, we called it a day. The next day, in the wee hours of the morning, we mustered all our will power to go out in an open jeep exploring wildlife on a winter morning, in the middle of a jungle surrounded by hills. As we started out, we were chilled to the core but as the sun descended the weather became better and turned to a cool sunny that we actually enjoyed.

Jungle stopover at Ranthambore

Jungle stopover at Ranthambore

We went for three safaris in three different forest zones. The zones are allocated based on availability as the authorities do not want to crowd certain areas only. Zones 1-4 are known for the best tiger spotting and its advisable to book these zones 3-4 months in advance. Online bookings are supposedly available which we weren’t aware of.

The safaris turned out to be pretty great. The early morning crisp air, the sunrises and the jungle terrain, plant and wildlife spotting, the interesting and at times amusing conversations with the jeep guides and drivers, stopovers in the middle of the jungle, and the unbelievable ease with which the 4×4 jeeps navigated through almost any ridge and depression of the stark jungle terrain.

Spotted deer at Ranthambore

Spotted deer at Ranthambore

Bird feeding at Ranthambore

Bird feeding at Ranthambore

For three days straight, we sloshed about in the jeep exploring the zones and always on high alert for any tiger trails. At the end of it all though, it was worth it as we did spot the elusiver tiger. Tigress actually. We considered ourselves lucky as there are only about 60 tigers in an area of 392 sq. km. On top of that tigers are known to be one of the most lazy animals. So that doesn’t help either. The hot and dry months (May-Jun) are said to be best for animal spotting in Ranthambore as the animals laze around the man-made water holes to beat the heat. Besides the big cats, there was a decent dash of other wildlife – deer, sambhars, boars, gazelle, neel gai, monkeys, bird species and plant varieties.

Tiger at Ranthambore

Tiger at Ranthambore

The third day, after our safari and a satiating breakfast of aloo poori, we bundled up once more and headed for our last road trip destination – Agra, where friends and family awaited us.

We reached Agra well in time that day, unwound and ate a lot over the next few days and enjoyed one of the most memorable New Year celebrations.

And did I mention the most delicious dhaba lunch we had on our way to Agra? Still makes my mouth water 😛