How far can you drive in an ordinary car from Calais

Take an ordinary 2WD car - your choice - without extra fuel tanks or cans of fuel. You can only refuel at petrol stations. Start at Calais. You can only cross water by driving over it on a bridge or through it. No boats, no ferries, no ice. How far can you actually drive? Can you reach the far tip of Russia? South Africa?

Just to clarify, I’m sure you mean: how far away can you get by driving (You could clock up a very great distance and stay in Calais). - i.e. the distance travelled isn’t the issue, it’s the distance - as the crow flies - between start and finish.

Do political issues count? I.e., would you consider driving through Iraq a viable option? Crossing through Syria/Lebanon into Israel?

Well, friends of mine made it from Glasgow to Israel on a motorcycle. Not a 2WD car, I know, but they weren’t carrying extra fuel or the like.

Granted, they are disqualified by your “no ferries” condition, which I suppose would include the Chunnel. But from Calais, I’m sure they’d still have made it :smiley:

I’m pretty sure you could drive right across to Russia’s Pacific coast, but the roads through central Russia aren’t up to much. A longer route, further south through Iran then central Asia and China might be an alternative, but more politically awkward.

Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman rode motorbikes right across to Magadan on Russia’s eastern coast in their Long Way Round project, but they found some strecthes impassable even on off-road-capable motorbikes. They’ve done a similar thing but with Cape Town as a destination, more recently.

You can get from one side of Russia to the other without taking anything but roads and bridges. See here for a ride report on four guys who did it a few years ago. I don’t think they used extra fuel cells but they might have. Then again a car will get a lot more mileage then a motorcycle.

Beware of wogs!

Are you aware that to many this term is deeply offensive, more or less equivalent to the ‘N’ word?


Well I’ve just had a browse of Google Maps, and crossing Russia looks plausible. Getting from Calais to Russia would be no problem at all these days - most European borders are a breeze these days thanks to EU expansion (even 8 years ago I went by car from France to Hungary, Slovakia and into former Yugoslavia quite easily), so it’s a question of what happens beyong Moscow.

Google Maps shows a pretty good network of roads, and even where there appear to be gaps in the “highway”, zooming in and checking with satellite views shows fairly good linking roads in most places.

I reckon, as long as you timed it right weather-wise, you could drive Moscow - Novgorod - Kazan - Naberezhnye Chelny - Ufa - Chelyabinsk - Kurgan, cut across northern Kazakhstan to Omsk, then to Novosibirsk - Kemerovo - Krasnoyarsk - Irkutsk.

The Wikipedia page for Irkutsk says that a “federal road to Vladivostok” passes through Irkutsk.
And that would have saved me a lot of time poring over the map, as searching for “federal road Vladivostok” brings up this article. It looks like there is a motorable road right from Moscow to Vladivostok, which was completyed in 2004. Paving it will take a little longer.

The Chunnel is a ferry?

Sage Rat. I assume you were making fun of a remark by a British politician in the 1940’s–

from Wikipedia. Perhaps a link or an asterisk would have helped the clueless(as I was until searching).

Carry on.

samclem GQ moderator

You don’t drive through the chunnel, you take a train. I would say that putting your car on a train violates the intent of the rules even though Quartz didn’t specify it.

I didn’t realize that. Makes sense, you don’t want a car breaking down and blocking traffic under those circumstances. Okay, it’s a ferry.

It’s probably not as far in terms of straight-line distance, but you could easily reach the southern tip of Africa from Calais.

It requires a significant dog-leg around the Med, but certainly achievable, I would have thought.

I know it’s been done in things like a VW camper van and possibly a double-decker, but not without help from 4WDs etc. to get through some awful ‘roads’ at times. A 2WD car by itself is going to struggle much beyond northern Africa, unless it’s very lucky indeed.

Surely it’s no worse than driving across the Russian steppes?

I’d certainly want a 4x4 for any extended journey West of Moscow or Ankara.

It appears that Magadan is the furthest city in Russia that is linked to the motorable highway network, at least nominally. However, the Kolyma Highway, which links it to Yakutsk, is almost certainly not passable in a 2WD car. So my vote would still be, with a modicum of luck, Vladivostok. I’m not sure how frequent petrol stations would be along that road, though.

e-logic, having seen what tropical downpours can do to even reasonably decent dirt roads in more developed parts of Africa, I think a north-south traverse of the continet would present some rather unique challenges (not to mention the civil war and general unrest across large chunks of subsaharan Africa).

I just did some googling and found a site that says Calais to Vladovostok is about 5630 miles, and Calais to Cape Town is 5570. I recall several years ago about some friends in London hiring a black cab to drive them to South Africa, so that’s absolutely doable, although I don’t know what route they took.

The straight-line distance from Calais to Singapore is about 6650 miles, though, so if we’re looking for greatest straight-line distance that’s where we should try to get to.

Current political conditions might make a route south of the Himalayas inadvisable (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan & Pakistan aren’t exactly hotbeds of tourism right now); is it possible to cross into China from Russia or one of the -stans? Also, are there any roads running the length of the Malay Peninsula?