Ultratravel - Ultra Drives
Summer 2015

Where: The Calchaquí Valleys in northwest Argentina, from Salta to Cachi, Colomé, Cafayate and back to Salta.
Why: This area of Argentina lies in the foothills of the Andes, with snowy peaks, cruising condors and a strong indigenous culture. Salta is a colonial city, with cobbled lanes, a candy-pink cathedral and high-walled convents. From here, the journey takes in the red-rock desert landscapes of Los Cardones National Park, the sleepy town of Cachi and the Bodega y Estancia Colomé wine estate. Continue on the Ruta del Vino loop to Cafayate (stop at the Domingo Hermanos Winery) and Finca Las Nubes, “Farm in the Clouds”. The return route to Salta includes the dramatic Quebrada de Las Conchas, or “Ravine of the Shells”.
Where to stay: In Salta, opt for Legado Mitico, a boutique property, and in Cachi for La Merced del Alto. The best choice in the Calchaquí Valleys is Patios de Cafayate. Conclude with a night or more at Salta’s House of Jasmines.
The vehicle: A VW Beetle.

The Skeleton Coast
Where: From Windhoek to Swakopmund by way of Purros, the Skeleton Coast and Cape Cross.
Why: Namibia is ideal for an African road trip; the sealed roads are excellent, traffic is light and the only serious hazards are wandering warthog and kudu (it’s best not to drive at night). The journey takes in the country’s leafy capital Windhoek, and lots of exceptional scenery -- Etosha, Namibia’s finest national park, the Marienfluss Valley, framed by the Otjihipa and Hartmann mountains, and rugged Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast. You can also tackle some exhilarating off-road driving.
Where to stay: In Windhoek, The Olive Exclusive is a perfect place to pause after landing and before hitting the road. Then use the Onguma Tented Camp on the eastern side of Etosha and Okahirongo Elephant Lodge near Purros, which offers sightings of desert elephant, giraffe, kudu and ostrich. Further north, the Okahirongo River Camp has fishing, birding and visits to local Himba villages. Grootberg Lodge has some spectacular views, while Mowani Mountain Camp is the most comfortable base in south Damaraland. Finish your trip at Swakopmund Guesthouse in a fine position close to the ocean.
The vehicle: A Jeep Wrangler, with two spare tyres, extra fuel and plenty of water.

Where: A 625-mile trip in southwest Australia via Bunbury, Margaret River and Augusta.
Why: Highlights include the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre in Koombana Bay; the coast around Meelup Beach and Bunker Bay; the Margaret River wine region; surf spots such as Surfers Point and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse; off-road cycling on the Munda Biddi Trail; hiking on the Bibbulmun Track; and the historic port of Albany. Also outstanding are Torndirrup National Park, known for its whale-watching (also see the rock formations known as The Gap, The Natural Bridge and The Blowhole), and the Skyhook Helicopter tours over Breaksea Island.
Where to stay: Overnight in Perth at the Terrace Hotel Perth. Just outside of Dunsborough is the beachfront Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, while Cape Lodge with its own vineyard, is first choice in the Margaret River. Near Pemberton, Foragers is a farm with eco-chalets. Cape Howe Cottages overlooks the West Cape Howe National Park and in Albany, the Beach House at Bayside makes an excellent seaside base at the end.
The vehicle: A Holden VF Commodore Ute, a contemporary take on an Australian classic.