The Mongol Rally is one of the most intense adventures a traveller can participate in; especially if you’re planning to do the rally solo, or with complete strangers: Hell, it’s intense even if you’re planning to do the Mongol Rally with your closest friends.
In 2012 I joined forces with a photographer from New York to drive from Prague to Mongolia, after crossing the Caspian Sea and waiting to get off the cargo ferry in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan, I realized that our visas didn’t match in terms of time; unfortunately my partner was interested in skipping Uzbekistan and going straight into Kazakhstan, and I was not comfortable with finding my own way to Kazakhstan to try and meet her there. Long-ish story, made short, we parted ways in Ashgabat.
Not completing the rally was hard, but I learned a lot about myself while planning our adventures (I handled majority of the sponsorships/brand partnerships) and while on the road.
Mongol Rally Posts
The Mongol Rally is 10,000 miles of messy, euphoric, adrenaline-filled adventure. The goal is to get your car or motorbike from London to Ulaanbaatar in a month, then auction your car off to charity. Actually, I think the following video gives a pretty good idea about what the Mongol Rally is about. [Read the full post]
“How much does it cost to do the Mongol Rally?”, is a common question. After all, the rally is a 10,000 mile journey in a small crap car, which will be auctioned off for charity if it makes it to Ulaanbaatar. So, how much does it cost and what is the money used for? [Read the full post]
2012 is a big adventure travel year for me. It’s the first time I’ve made travel plans without ditching them because there is no way I can possibly afford them. This time around I’ve decided, rather firmly, that I will be doing the Mongol Rally followed by a solo journey along the Silk Road from Xi’an to Istanbul. Once my decisions were made, I started to think about how I was going to pay for all of this. It’s a valid question, both trips come with a bit of a price tag and when I made the decision to do them I was only earning money from ads and sponsored posts on this blog which is not really enough to pay for two mega trips. [Read the full post]
I’ve prepped for trips before, but I’ve been very lax. I do basic things and leave a lot of things alone. I mean, how fun is travel when you plan every single detail before you leave?! What is the fun in that?! Yeah, Mongol Rally has kind of trashed those habits. Fast. [Read the full post]
That seems to be the question we’re asking ourselves lately. Many of the ralliers will be starting in London at Goodwood. I hear it’s a party like no other, which is quite tempting. However, some ralliers will start two days later in Prague. The party is not as grand, but there is still a party! [Read the full post]
There are so many emotions that I feel as though I suffer from a demented version of multiple personality disorder. I imagine myself as Golum in Lord of the Rings, when he’s talking to himself. Showing both sides of his personality. One side stronger than the other. The only difference is that my conversation is not a duet, it’s a flipping dinner party! [Well, that and the fact that I am not a deformed Hobbit.] [Read the full post]
“I was wondering if you have time today, or next weekend to teach me how to drive a stick shift?” I asked my brother.
The Mongol Rally is forcing me to not only tune skills -like problem solving – but it’s forcing me to learn new things, quickly. Things like learning how to drive a manual car, and then driving said manual car in major European cities, over mountains, onto ferries, through deserts, and Lord knows what else! [Read the full post]
I was early, by almost 2 hours. The Russian Consulate doesn’t open until 9:30 a.m., but there I was, parking my car across the street from the consulate at 7:40 a.m.
I had heard stories about people waiting for more than 3 hours to drop off their visa applications, and I wanted to avoid that as much as possible. I parked my car, went in search for a TD Canada Trust, got a money order for the Russian Consulate for $135, and headed to 175 Bloor Street East. [Read the full post]
It’s a surreal moment, standing in the valley below Klenova Castle, and looking up at a sign that says ‘Mongol Rally’. It’s the moment when I realize that this is all real. That after months of planning, worrying, and stress, I am here. I am doing the Mongol Rally. This is no longer one of my many pipe dreams. Wow. [Read the full post]
It was almost 5:00 a.m., and I was inside our Mongol Rally car, trying to sleep in the front passenger seat. I had no idea the Czech Republic would be so cold in July. I packed a couple of warm pieces of clothing, but I honestly thought I could get away with sleeping in a tent, on a thermarest mat, with the Maasai blanket I bought last year. I was wrong. I froze the first night we camped at Klenova, which is why I was sleeping in the car – the wind can’t get me in there. [Read the full post]
We spent months planning for the Mongol Rally. We talk about not doing convoys, only driving short distances in Europe, and relying on market food instead of freeze dried camp food (or eating out all the time). We sent hundreds of emails to each other, and chatted over Skype. Everything sounded great, then we got to the Czech Republic, and realized that perhaps we were wrong about a few things. [Read the full post]
According to Google we could drive from Budapest, Hungary to Vama Veche, Romania in only 12 hours! Fabulous! We could totally do a 12 hour day, all we need to do is leave early in the morning and we’ll arrive by dinner time!
It sounded like a great idea at the time. [Read the full post]
Six months ago, when we were planning for the Mongol Rally, we talked about spending a few days in Bulgaria. We spoke of going to Sofia, and having a flex day to explore a smaller town or village. It was all so exciting.
Then we started to actually drive the Mongol Rally, and plans started changing, rapidly! [Read the full post]
Istanbul has been a blip on my travel destinations radar for many years now, and the thought of going there for the Mongol Rally had me really excited. Istanbul, Turkey! Oh my gosh! Oh, this would be the best time ever (don’t you love how I hype things up? Man, I should stop doing that!). [Read the full post]
Our weekend in Istanbul has been good. I had a chance to meet with a couple Mongol Rally teams, hang-out with Charlie and Sherry, and find a way to have some alone time. The later being the most important part of my journey so far. [Read the full post]
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Asia, so I’m use to things like crazy drivers, and the lack of road rules (or at least I like to think I am), but traveling through countries like that, and driving through countries like that, are two totally different things. The cows walking around the Turkey – Georgia border should have been a hint of things to come. [Read the full post]
The roads in Azerbaijan are surprisingly good, and as we made our way to Baku Charlie suggested a detour north, into the mountains. The towns north of the city sounded lovely, and we were making pretty good time, so we went for it.
Although the roads were good, but the road signage was not, and there were a couple times when we would find ourselves driving into a city, and having no clue where we needed to go. So, instead of driving around and getting more lost, we would pull over and ask a local man for directions. [Read the full post]
I may not have made it to Mongolia, but I did make it to Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan!
Writing about not finishing the Mongol Rally was difficult, I think because I was admitting (more to myself, than others) failure. Okay, perhaps failure is a rather strong word. And perhaps I am harder on myself than I need to be. I do take pride in what I do, and when I don’t accomplish something I set out to do, it bothers me. But, did I actually fail? Maybe not… [Read the full post]
Suggested Gear for the Mongol Rally
Every team in the Mongol Rally varies in terms of gear; it all comes down to how much you want to ‘rough it‘. That being said there are some items that are a good idea for everyone: maps are invaluable when trying to figure out not only where to go, but where you are, and they are a great tool for interacting with locals; a camera and go pro are simply a must have for every team – you will want to capture as much as you can, crazy stuff can happen on the Mongol Rally.
Driving through Europe is one of the easiest parts of the Mongol Rally, and while you could get by without a map on the road, this map is great for planning before you leave, as well as for making fun side trips along the way. [Buy]
In some instances roads are a novelty in Central Asia. Many are in very bad condition, and in the case of Turkmenistan there is only one major road that goes through the country. That doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. [Buy]
Unless you want to deal with going through China, no matter which route you take, you will need to drive in Russia! [Buy]
There are not many roads in Mongolia, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. If I didn’t make it to Mongolia, how would I know that? Simple, I travelled in Mongolia in 2010, and not much has changed since that time! [Buy]
A small and lightweight mirrorless camera, the Nikon 1 J5 is perfect for adventures like the Mongol Rally; you will have enough gear without worrying about carrying and storing bulky camera gear as well. [Buy]
This 10-100mm zoom lens is a great addition to your camera kit; there are few things that are more frustrating than not being able to zoom. [Buy]
Always plan to buy at least three to four SD cards – you can never have too many SD cards! [Buy]
Always bring one or two extra camera batteries with you on the Mongol Rally. Always. [Buy]
Doing the Mongol Rally without a GoPro is like riding a bike without wheels – you will seriously curse yourself for not having one. If you’ve never used one, buy it a few months before your trip, play around and test different things so you’re not trying to figure out the features during the Mongol Rally. [Buy]
Similar to your camera, carrying an extra battery for your GoPro is essential. [Buy]
GoPro video files are huge, especially if you leave it on for awhile, you will want to buy at least two or three extra SD cards. [Buy]
When your GoPro is suctioned to the outside of your rally car, this remote will come in handy as it will allow you to turn the camera on and off without having to stop and do it manually. [Buy]
Sometimes, on the Mongol Rally, you need some alone time. Bringing a one-person tent is a good way to ensure you get some alone time while catching some ZZzzzzs. [Buy]
Keep your gear charged while doing the Mongol Rally! An inverter is probably one the most useful things you can buy if you plan to have a GoPro, camera, or even just a cell phone along for the ride. [Buy]
Your car WILL get stuck at some point, and you WILL need someone to pull you free – hence why it’s a good idea to bring along a towing cable. [Buy]
It can get cold outside during the Mongol Rally, and you will want to have a good sleeping bag with you – trust me, I didn’t bring one and I was freezing cold most nights. [Buy]