Welcome to the Mongol Rally!
Together with French in Normandy, a French language school, we are getting ready to travel about 15,000 kilometers (9000 miles) from England to Mongolia in a small car to raise money for underprivileged children in Malindi, Kenya.
The Mongol Rally is a rally that begins in Europe and originally ended in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. To avoid the punitive costs and taxes associated with imports and “disposal” or vehicle donation, the rally now crosses Mongolia and ends in Ulan Ude, Russia. The main starting point will be in London, UK, on the 17th of July. “Unofficially” however we already started it on the beginning of the June when we left Manchester, (where we bought the van) and drove through beautiful Wales before crossing the English Channel and then arrived to France, where we are now.
This is not a race rally. It doesn’t matter who comes first or last; the important thing is to reach the destination and raise money for our chosen charities!
- The car should be small (up to 1.0L) and “shitty”.
- The teams do not have any support from the organizers.
- Teams need to raise at least £ 1000 for charity. Of which £ 500 is for the official charity of the Mongol Rally, The Cool Earth, dedicated to saving the Amazon and the other £ 500 to a charity of our choice. (We’ve chosen the Friends of Heart Children’s Home and around 10000 pounds have been raised).
There are a variety of suggested routes that teams can follow. After leaving England or one of the other starting points in Western Europe (including France, Italy and Spain), participants can meet at 3 pitstops along the way. Typical routes go through Moscow, Kiev or Istanbul, but there are teams that have traveled north to the Arctic Circle or by the extreme south route as Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
Our route and planned dates:
Our team decided to go for a big challenge and chose to follow the south route through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.
It will be necessary to have several fingers crossed, including the toe’s please!
We plan to depart French in Normandy, in Rouen on the 18th of July, 2016.
- 20/July: Budapest, Hungary –
- 22/July: Roma Beach, Constanta, Romania –
- 23/July: Istambul, Turkey
Then we travel west through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and hopefully cross the Caspian Sea on the 5th of August. From there on, here’s our Google Maps sketch routes for each country:
In the beginning of June we went to Manchester to get the car we bought for 2,000 pounds at e-bay . It is a mini-van turned into a camping van . Although by European standards it would be considered ” shitty ” it is already the sweet-darling of the team. It’s a Daihatsu Hijet 1999 with 0.9L engine!
For a comparison, its engine is slightly more powerful than the motorcycle I used to go from the furthest northwest corner of the U.S. to the furthest southwest corner in 2012 .
And it has, believe it or not, a mini kitchen, a mini bathroom , and two mini – beds!
It is still unclear how we will install the four humans in it with all the camping gear, jerry cans, spare parts, spare tires, etc… But it is certain that our paws in excess can be very useful to push the van up the hills in Kyrgyzstan…
On average, between 250 and 300 teams participate in the Mongol Rally every year. Most teams have 2 to 4 people . Our team consists of me, Gusti Junqueira and Rafael Martins, the Brazilians, the Welsh Eleri Maitland, director of the French in Normandy and the Spanish Librarian Julia Gago. More about us here.
Who are we helping and how you can too:
Our institution of choice is the Friends of Heart Children’s Home.
Heart is a community project managed by a local committee in Malindi, Kenya. Approximately 24 children aged 1 to 17 years are assisted by Heart. Founded in 2005, Heart relies solely on donations from friends and supporters. Donations support the house they live in, medical care, clothing, food and education for children, as well as projects for income generation, such as poultry and the local community kitchen.
French in Normandy stipulated to raise 10 thousand pounds and the good news is that we are pretty close to reaching our goal. The main contributors so far have been: ICEF, GuardMe, Inline marketing, Study Travel Magazine, The Pie, IALC and other private language schools and Valérie Fourneyron Députée de Seine-Maritime.
Remember that all this money will be donated exclusively to heart! If you want to make a contribution, click on this link to donate.
How are we paying for the trip?
Rafael and I are personally paying for food, visas, accommodations and insurance. Go Help is sponsoring the ladies for insurance and visa. The car was sponsored by French in Normandy and it’s partners.
The donation from the link above, from Go Fund Me, is exclusive to the Friends of Heart Children’s Home in Kenya and does not pay any of the trip expenses.
I should say that the cost of visas for the countries in Central Asia are turning out to be more expensive than we thought (around 1.300 dollar per person!), if you would like to collaborate with these costs Rafael and I are accepting donations as well. The amount is up to you and you can help by clicking here, or on the button below. For donations above 20 dollars we will send a postcard with one of our original picture from the Mongol Rally (printing and mailing in the destination country).
After the Rally:
Some cars do not make it to Mongolia (as of my friend’s Norbert in 2013), they are sold when they break or are left behind. If the vehicle is simply abandoned, the team loses a security deposit (which was created exactly for this reason) of 1000 pounds.
If we do arrive in Mongolia, the plan is to drive back through Russia, via Trans-Siberian, to Europe where we will leave the van resting during the winter so in the following year we can go meet the children of the community in Kenya that we are raising money for.
These are ambitious plans and we need extra fingers crossed and your help is much appreciated!
In 2013 my friend Norbert participated of the rally and in spite of an accident in the middle of Russia his team members arrived at the destination bt hitchhiking. In his blog there is fun (sometimes scary) and useful information about his journey.