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The Mongol Rally: "Traveling Is for Sissies"

car in desert

[Oxana Lebedeva] / [Hemera] / Thinkstock

No support crew or medical professionals will be available for assistance. You’ll ruin your vehicle and get hopelessly lost. You’ll suffer heat stroke and frostbite alike. You might be terribly injured, become permanently disfigured, or otherwise disabled. You might even die. But isn’t that appeal enough already? If you choose to partake in the Mongol Rally, you and your teammates will traverse five mountain ranges, three deserts, up to 18 countries – for a total of over 10,000 miles – as you race from the UK to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar in a shitty car of your decision. It will be the time of your life and adventure tales will be yours to last the rest of your days.

The Rules…
…are few.

  • The vehicle of your choosing (belligerent and flamboyant costumery encouraged) to conquer the worst roads on Earth has to be a tiny machine with an engine displacement of 1.2 liters or less. As the creators state: “Since the dawn of Rally Time the 1 litre (ish) rule has stood fast to ensure a high standard of adventurism and glorious mayhem.”
  • The car has to be less than 10 years old to avoid the total “junker” scenario.
  • In the spirit of adventure, no routes or guides will be provided in any way. You’re on your own. With a starting point and a destination the only required stops, what happens and where you go in between is anyone’s guess and completely up to you.
  • Lastly, you must raise some cash for charity – at least GBP 500.

What to Expect
Absolutely nothing. You might be invited into a nomad’s yurt for yak milk tea one day, and then blast away a hillside with an RPG another. Your car may start in the morning for a catch-up on lost miles only to crash through a rickety bridge in the afternoon. The Mongol Rally is a potholed mess of disaster, devastation and dirty debauchery. Expect nothing but maybe the worst.

Quick Guide
Quit your job or request a minimum of one month off. Gather up your most adventurous pals (how many is up to you – limited only by the space in your car) and purchase a vehicle. You may want to buy your car in the UK to keep things easier and cheaper. Register with the Adventurists (space is still available for the 2012 Rally) and meet at the UK Launch for the wild “Festival of Slow” that kicks off the race.

Yes, like many great things, you’ll have to part with many a silver dollar. The entry fee is GBP 714. Then you have to consider the price of a car, travel and life insurance, gas, food, accommodation (though most crews camp in the middle of nowhere and try to avoid expensive hotels in cities) and any unexpected disasters that occur along the way. Keep in mind that many of the expenses can be divided by the number of teammates. Either way, you’ll need to save up or find sponsors to help alleviate the pain of financial ruin.

What do you get? …This:

By Bryan Schatz


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