Longest Google Maps Routes

On May 29, 2012 · 28 Comments

I received an email message from 12MC reader Andrew a few days ago. He said that he and a friend have been playing a game using Google Maps. The rules are simple: try to find the longest possible Google Maps route by providing only a starting and an ending point. Both points have to be place names, not lat/long coordinates. Also, results have to be the default Google routing (no fair adjusting the route manually by pulling it onto other roads to create artificial extensions).

The best example they’ve uncovered is Agulhas, South Africa to Pusat Serenti Pengerang, Malaysia. Here is the default route that Google suggests:



View Larger Map

This is an amazing distance of 30,160 kilometres (18,741 miles) that should take 17 days and 7 hours if undertaken as a continuous journey and everything goes perfectly. I’ll ignore the obvious obstacles posed by Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan for someone of my nationality. Sudan and Myanmar probably wouldn’t be a picnic either.

I played around with this but I couldn’t improve upon the result. The best alternative I generated was Agulhas, South Africa to Magadan, Russia (route map) at "only" 29,619 km (18,404 mi).

The northern tip of North America to the southern tip of South America might seem to like a legitimate candidate using the famous Pan American Highway. However, as odd as this might sound and even after more than a century of automobile road building efforts, the grids of the two continents do not connect. This is known as the Darién Gap. Roads simply do not penetrate this 160 km (99 mi) stretch of swampland and rainforest in Panama’s Darién Province. Nor is the distance likely to to be bridged anytime soon. There are serious environmental concerns within this unspoiled region. Road projects have been proposed in the past and they’ve all been rejected. Sure, a few expeditions on motorcycles and four-wheel drive vehicles have penetrated the gap. However, an average sane motorist would never attempt to recreate it.

I’m assuming that Andrew & friend have already picked-over the most likely alternatives. Nonetheless, go ahead and give it a shot and see if you can improve upon it.


I think South Africa to Malaysia is a perfectly legitimate route although some might quibble with step 245, "Take the Algier, AL to Marseille, FR ferry…" I’ll always take a ferry if I can find an opportunity. Nonetheless, let’s take this as an opportunity to try a variation on this game. What is the longest route Google suggests that remains completely upon existing road surface without resorting to a ferry?

The best I could do was Agulhas, South Africa to Aswan, Egypt.



View Larger Map

Google suggest 17,661 km (10,974 mi) in an unusual reverse question-mark shape. The funny thing with this one is that there appears to be a route through Sudan along the seacoast that bypasses the loop through the Sahara. Nonetheless, that’s how Google routes it by default and that’s the result I’ll report. The other fascinating feature is that I can’t get anything to route through Israel. Ask Google to take one from Agulhas, South Africa to Amman, Jordan and it will return a message that says, "We could not calculate directions…"

The best non-ferry route I could find for Eurasia was Brest, France to Pusat Serenti Pengerang, Malaysia at 15,196 km (9,442 mi) (route map). For North America it was Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the previously-mentioned Darién Gap at 11,849 km (7,363 mi). I didn’t find much in South America. Google Maps still doesn’t provide very comprehensive routing down there.


There are plenty of other variations one could attempt. The longest route I found for the United States was Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Key West, Florida at 8,827 km (5,485 mi) (route map), albeit much of the path goes through Canada. Theoretically one can complete that journey in 4 days 15 hours. For Canada, how about Inuvik, NT to Labrador City, NL (route map) at 8,087 km (5,025 mi)? — although that does includes a ferry.

I’ll leave this game for now with one more example, the longest road distance I could find from my hometown.



View Larger Map

Google suggest 7,485 km (4,651 mi) between Washington, DC and Prudhoe Bay.

Go ahead and have some fun with this and be sure to post your map links or embedded images in the comments. Thank you Andrew for the great suggestion! I’ve had a lot of fun with this over the last few days.

On May 29, 2012 · 28 Comments

28 Responses to “Longest Google Maps Routes”

  1. Orion says:

    If you use “Kuparuk, Alaska (Ugnu-Kuparuk Airport)” instead of “Prudhoe Bay, Alaska” then distances in North America improve slightly (~20 miles) and I don’t think it breaks the rules as stated.

  2. Peter says:

    Are there any open road crossings from the Sinai into Israel? If there are, it should be possible to drive from Agulhas to the Malaysian-city-I-won’t-try-to-spell without a long ferry ride, though the drive would be considerably shorter than with the Algeria-France ferry. You’d also have to drive through Iraq or Syria, which definitely would not be a barrel of fun.

    • Voyager9270 says:

      There is an open vehicular border crossing between Eilat, Israel and Taba, Egypt. I crossed there myself several years back (while I took a cab to the Israeli border, walked across, and caught a bus on the Egyptian side, I noticed a number of private vehicles crossing, though they did have to fill out significant paperwork and obtain a temporary license plate). Google Maps, however, shows this border crossing as a discontinuity. According to Google, the Egyptian road terminates at the border while the Israeli road picks up again at a cul-de-sac 500 feet away. Therefore, Google must think that vehicles traveling from Africa to Asia need to be routed through Europe, when in reality, there is a much more direct route.


      View Larger Map

    • Ariel Dybner says:

      The Taba Border crossing between Taba in Egypt and Eilat in Israel is currently open, as is the Allenby Bridge between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan. Therefore it should be possible to drive through Egypt, Israel and Jordan to points further east, obviating the need for the ferry route through France. Google Maps shows the roads going right up to the borders but not crossing, so that is probably why the routes don’t show up.

      • Josh says:

        Can one actually drive that though? With the egyptian and jordanian passport stamps (they won’t stamp another piece of paper), I don’t think you’d be able to get into the next countries. I’m certain you won’t be able to drive into Lebanon or Syria (though with the civil war…) and I believe the same is true for Sudan, SA and Iraq. With the new Libyan regime, I’m not sure.

        • Peter says:

          With the Israeli passport stamp it wouldn’t be possible to drive through Syria, Iran or Pakistan. As a result, the drive from Agulhas to the Southeast Asian end point* would require a much more circuitous routing. After entering Jordan at the Allenby crossing you would have to drive into Turkey via Iran. I’m not sure if that’s even possible. Once in Turkey you would have to go through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and probably Kazakhstan, then through China, eventually entering Vietnam … not Malaysia, as that’s another country that has hissy fits about Israeli passport stamps.

          • Voyager9270 says:

            I disagree with your characterization of Malaysia as a country having a hissy fit about Israeli passport stamps. While it is a Muslim country and requires Israeli citizens to obtain special approval before entering (though it doesn’t ban them altogether), Israeli passport stamps in the passport of a third-party citizen, like an American, is no problem. I speak from experience — border control agent flipped through the first few pages of my American passport, which contained two pairs of Israeli passport stamps, and said nothing about them.

  3. Google Maps evidently have a lot to learn about intuitive directions. That Inuvik-to-Labrador City route they suggest moves the route a few hundred miles south across the US just to access Interstate 90 rather than the dar-more-direct but two-lane Trans Canada Highway through Northern Ontario, AND it carts your vehicle on an hour-long ferry ride across the widest portion of the St. Lawrence estuary instead of just sending you straight from Quebec City to Labrador City on the highway that goes directly from Quebec City to Labrador City.

  4. It seems that the coast road’s vectors from Sudan to Egypt have a discontinuity in Google just north of the border.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Halaieb+We+Shalatein&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&ll=22.005446,36.724924&spn=0.002362,0.00327&sll=22.005926,36.724285&sspn=0.002362,0.00327&geocode=FaHITwEd_l8wAg%3BFVzHTwEdLWAwAg&mra=dme&mrsp=0&sz=19&t=m&z=19

    takes 10,623 km in 6 days 17 hours even though start and end points are about 100 ft apart.

  5. January First-of-May says:

    The obvious idea of Magadan to whatever-place-in-Malaysia gets 18,083 km, and for all I can tell is indeed the longest (which is a little sad).
    However, this incredible route in Africa, only some 21 km shorter (and several hours longer in terms of time), takes the points for craziness:

    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=SEDZO,+Kwilu,+Democratic+Republic+of+the+Congo&daddr=Halaib&hl=en&ll=11.178402,22.763672&spn=43.451986,79.013672&sll=9.102097,27.949219&sspn=43.708012,79.013672&geocode=FchUwv8dHKwkASmLnVok1wwXGjED7nPyRfp56w%3BFY4OUwEd1xkvAilpCwPb2SfPFTF0pHJMBYLzyA&mra=pd&t=m&z=4

    • Ken says:

      I actually took your starting place and just put in Magadan and came up with a route that is longer than the original route that Andrew came up with. From Sedzo DRC to Magadan is 30,517km

  6. Jim Mowery says:

    I found a longer route. Ca Mau, Vietnam to Agulhas, Western Cape, South Africa: 30,459 km, 17 days 1 hour

  7. Ian says:

    I didn’t find the longest distance, but certainly the route that takes the longest time and probably the most interesting. From Panama city, panama to Kashgar in China (not sure how to embed) takes about 26000 kilometers, and if you move to an even more isolated spot in China it can get up to close to 27000, however it involves kayaking across the Pacific ocean and takes over 40 days!!!! For some reason google does’t let you exit from China but there is probably another route in there somewhere that’s even longer

  8. Darien Gap says:

    I tried to find the longest route completely within the US borders (i.e. the lower 48)and the best I could find was Cape Flattery (trailhead), WA, to Key West, FL, 3,720 mi, 2 days 13 hours. (Have actually been to both places.)

    When I tried routes to remote parts of Maine, the default Google routes always veered through Canada.

  9. Brian Casey says:

    In your description of the route from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Key West, Florida, you list Google Map’s estimated travel time of 4 days, 15 hours.

    John Ryan, a famous figure in long-distance motorcycling, actually completed this route in 86 hours, 15 minutes – 3 days, 14 hours, 15 minutes.

    The Iron Butt Association certifies various long-distance motorcycle rides, and calls this route the Ultimate Coast-to-Coast ride. All IBA certifications require the rider to provide specific documentation to prove the times and locations of the route, so it’s all on the up-and-up.

    http://www.motorcycleaddicts.org/community/threads/john-ryans-ucc.24056/

  10. Josh says:

    I find it great that so many of these start or end in DRC, after reading a great travelogue about driving through the DRC (thanks to the Basement Geographer). And AFAIK, these longest routes are going through much more dangerous territory than in the travelogue. If you haven’t, check it out: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/50799-Democratic-Republic-of-Congo-Lubumbashi-to-Kinshasa

  11. Listroider says:

    How about within one state? In my home state of NY, Montauk to Ripley is 9h 40m, though it goes through New Jersey, which is a problem with anywhere on Long Island to upstate.

  12. Edwin says:

    I found a longer route in the world, Chimchememel’, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia to Duyker Eiland Dr South Africa for 31697 km 😛

  13. Shobhit says:

    Hi,

    I came across an extremely peculiar issue here… When I try to find roadways of getting eastwards from New Delhi, India, interestingly none of them pass through Pakistan and Google Maps makes me loop through all the way from New Delhi to Nepal to China to wherever I wish to go. Why not go through Pakistan?? Take this case as an example where it takes me through Nepal, China & Tajikistan into Kabul (It although grazes into Pakistani region at times but I feel as if it is trying to avoid it): https://www.google.co.in/maps/dir/New+Delhi,+Delhi/Airport+Rd,+Kabul,+Afghanistan/@32.9421224,68.1669169,5z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x390cfd5b347eb62d:0x52c2b7494e204dce!2m2!1d77.2090212!2d28.6139391!1m5!1m1!1s0x38d16e814e3e5a57:0x6df49fe8d4ce8618!2m2!1d69.1889012!2d34.5653123?hl=en

    Another classic example: Route from NEw Delhi to Tehran again loops me through Nepal, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan instead of cutting me through PAkistan which for obvious reasons will be shorter: https://www.google.co.in/maps/dir/New+Delhi,+Delhi/Tehran,+Iran/@34.0776349,59.2757315,5z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x390cfd5b347eb62d:0x52c2b7494e204dce!2m2!1d77.2090212!2d28.6139391!1m5!1m1!1s0x3f8e00491ff3dcd9:0xf0b3697c567024bc!2m2!1d51.3889736!2d35.6891975?hl=en

    This one is hilarious: Route from NEw Delhi to Istanbul loops me through Nepal, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. HAd I been able to cut a road through Pakistan and Iran, I could have easily cut down not less then at least 4,000 KM en route… https://www.google.co.in/maps/dir/New+Delhi,+Delhi/Istanbul,+Turkey/@37.6171413,48.5220879,5z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x390cfd5b347eb62d:0x52c2b7494e204dce!2m2!1d77.2090212!2d28.6139391!1m5!1m1!1s0x14caa7040068086b:0xe1ccfe98bc01b0d0!2m2!1d28.9783589!2d41.0082376?hl=en

  14. Michael says:

    Well, doesn’t the Agulhas to Aswan suggested route still require a ferry? The Kazungula Ferry is required to cross the Zambezi River. The ferry is located at the ever so short border between Botswana and Zambia, which as you probably know prevents those two countries from forming a quadripoint with Namibia and Zimbabwe.

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