Mongolia looks like the perfect place for a road trip. This image, according to its photographer Mark Fischer, was snapped between the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and Mandalgovi, a small town perched on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The bright yellow of the broken-down car, the blue sky, the ramshackle buildings, the green earth, the machinery dumped here and there – little of it suggests tourist board boilerplate, granted, but every last detail speaks to Mongolia’s compelling geographies and vast distances.
*After an extended hiatus (we blame the whole getting lost in the desert thing) Transmongolia is back to offer even more coverage of the 2011 Mongol Rally.
The Mongol Rally isn’t a race, at least not in the official and common sense. There are no prizes for first place except bragging rights. More than anything, it’s about who makes it to the finish line and who doesn’t. It’s about arriving at the finish line and scanning a large wall-sized poster that lists who has retired [RET] and who has completed the journey in their original automobile, no matter the condition.
After crossing through the fabled Mongolia Steppe, our team finally reached the end of their 10,000 mile long journey. Emotions ran high; we experienced excitement at the thought of being stationary for a long period of time and trepidation over knowing that everyone would be heading separate ways in just a matter of days. We had made it to Ulaanbaatar, victors of the Mongol Rally.
Transmongolia – Part Five: The Finish Line
For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally or tips for entrants outside the EU, visit the Adventurist’s website – or view the Adventurists’ 2011 trailer here!
Transportation was made possible by the scholars and gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.
“Traveling is for sissies, come and get stuck in a desert.” The moment I first read those words, I knew that the Mongol Rally was something that I needed to experience in my lifetime.
Imagine: a 10,000 mile adventure across some of the world’s most rugged terrain, in some of the most unsuitable vehicles imaginable; no GPS devices, no support crew, and no single set route from the starting line in Goodwood, England to the finish line in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar. In the words of the Adventurists (the group responsible for the rally), the Rally is simply: “10,000 miles of adventuring bliss through deserts, mountains, and steppe”.
So, when I got the opportunity to fly to Mongolia and join one of the 300 teams competing in the 2011 Mongol Rally, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. I needed to know what it was like to race across the steppe, fix major breakdowns with only duct tape, and meet the type of people that were capable of completing something so amazingly bizarre.
Transmongolia is an exclusive five part video series that documents my journey from the fringe of the Russia/Mongolia border to the finish line in Ulaanbaatar.
See what it’s like to get hopelessly lost in the Gobi desert, break down hundreds of miles from any sign of help, and discover the sheer beauty of the vast Mongolian countryside from the rear window of a dusty ambulance…
Transmongolia – Part One: USA to RPGs in 24 hours
Transportation was made possible by the scholars & gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed, and nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.
It’s time to go to Mongolia! Almost. In winter 2011, the country will welcome the Radisson Blu Hotel Ulaanbaatar, the first Rezidor Hotel Group property to hit Mongolia. This will increase the company’s tally to 61 countries, says Rezidor president and CEO Kurt Ritter. You’ll find the new Radisson Blu right in the heart of the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, walking distance from Sukhbaatar Square and Peace Avenue, and it will be adjacent to the Choijin Lama Temple, which is home to an eighteenth century gold-covered statue of Buddha Shayaryamuni.
The property will have 175 guestrooms, three restaurants (including a microbrewery) and a wellness center – not to mention close to 5,000 square feet of conference and meeting space. Needless to say, this will be helpful in accommodating the increasing number of tourists to Mongolia, which has been growing at a compound annual rate of 15 percent since 2006.
So, if you’re looking to check out the temple or trod some of the same dirt as Genghis Khan, you’re about to get another lodging option.
The sixth edition of the Mongol Rally got underway earlier this week when 400 teams, making a simultaneous start from the U.K., Spain, and Italy, set off on the ultimate road trip. Over the next month, their 10,000 mile journey will span two continents, pass over mountains, through deserts and jungles, and will only end once they reach the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
But the Mongol Rally isn’t just any road race. There are some strict rules that the competitors must adhere to. For instance, this isn’t a rally for speed demons, as the largest engine allowed in the competition is a mere 1.2 liters in size. And since the race is used to raise money for a number of charities, the teams are required to raise at least £1000, which is roughly the equivalent of $1650.
Perhaps the most important rule however, is that the teams are completely on their own once the race is underway. That means they have no back-up, no support, and if they run into any kind of trouble, they’ll have to find their own way out. The race is completely self-supported, and all the participants will have to be quite resourceful to over come the inevitable ostacles that will arise on their way to Mongolia.
There was a new rule added to the rally this year which requires that all the cars that are used in the race must be less than ten years old. The reason for this, is that the vehicles are also donated to charity once they reach Mongolia, and the government there has stipulated this change in order to ensure the cars that arrive are of high quality and safer for the environment.
One of the more interesting aspects of the race is that there is no set route that the teams must follow on their journey to Ulaanbaatar. In fact, they are encouraged too “get out there into the world, get lost, stuck and in trouble”, as they make their way across Europe and Asia. The Mongol Rally website does offer some examples of past routes however, and you can see that teams have ranged as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Afghanistan in their wanderings.
This looks like the ultimate driving adventure. Who wouldn’t want to load up a few friends, stock up on drinks and snacks and hit the road for a 10,000 mile drive?