Dubai: What is the world’s greatest motor rally? Dakar, I hear you say. Or the Peking-to-Paris rally. While both these motoring events are outright awesome, they are nowhere near the Mongol Rally when it comes to sheer adventure. The organisers describe it as “motoring stupidity on a global scale”. And they may have a point.
The route covers an astonishing 16,000km over deserts, mountains, and the steppes of Europe and Asia that will test even the best 4WDs. But in the Mongol Rally, you are only allowed to use battered econoboxes that are 1.0 litre (1,000 cc) or less. The idea is that the more you break down along the route, the more likely you are to encounter the local residents. Breaking down often also offers participants more of an adventure. But some of the cars are so unfit for the task ahead that they break down on the way to the launch, and have to be towed across the start line.
And, oh, there’s no back-up or set route or accommodation provided by the organisers. It’s just you, your mates in the car (if any), and your map. All that the participants are provided are a starting point (London, with subsidiary starting points in the Czech Republic), and an ending point (in Russia; it was earlier Mongolia).
You can look at the people who take part in such events as proper adventurers or dangerous fools. That depends on your point of view. Fact is, the rally attracts carefree types who are not very rich, and are out there for a good laugh. These are people who don’t take it all too seriously and are eager travellers. However, the rally is no laughing matter; there is no under-estimating the dangers. There have been cases of serious injuries, permanent disability and also death.
The ‘unroute ethos’
The organisers follow what they call “the unroute ethos”. According to this theory, knowing where you’re going is boring; you go where you please. They just tell where to start and where to finish your journey. How you do it and which route you take is entirely up to you. In fact, getting lost is actively encouraged. The basic premise is that if it is too regulated, it is not an adventure. You need to get lost, rely on yours wits, and your mates to get out of sticky situations, and experience some sense of danger and uncertainty. There’s no one to hold your hand, unless you are in a life threatening situation. No, this event is not for the faint of heart.
Raising money for a good cause
The organisers stipulate that the participants raise at least £500 for the Cool Earth charity, and another £500 for a charity of their choice.
Want to take part?
The 2020 Rally will launch on July 19 from the Matterley Basin in Hampshire, London, and close in the Siberian town of Ulan Ude on September 14.
Call the organisers, The Adventurists, at +44(0)117 4223400