10000 miles you said? How many times are we allowed get lost in the way?
As we said in our previous post, there is no set route for the Mongolia Charity Rally: you just need your team and your (hopefully-ready-for-the-adventure) vehicle. The rest is roughly 1/3 of the world between London and Ulan Bator.
We recently found out that this year’s edition will start from Brussels instead of London. Not that 362.2km were going to make any difference. Certainly not for us as we will be starting from Britain’s capital city anyway.
London, Brussels… and off we go leaving Europe behind fairly quickly since after all it is only a short flight away from home. Aside from that, it will almost certainly be the most expensive part of the trip. Plus it is boring. At least compared to what awaits us further East. Tarmac is dull. Pot holes are the new fashion trend in Civil Engineering. Buildings are monotonuous. Bring on the beautiful nothingness of the Mongolian steppe.
So, where to?
The Mongolia Charity Rally covers a great part of the Silk Route. Extending 4000 miles, this series of ancient roads derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its lenght, beginning during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Ancient civilazations like the Chinese, Persians, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Armenians, Indians, and Bactrians used the route to trade goods and they all left a wonderful legacy of culture, art and arquitecture behind.
From the Roman times to Marco Polo, the Silk Road was never a single-path route. Its system included some branches of caravan roads which passed across different mountain passes bypassing deserts. And likewise, our options to reach Ulan Bator are many. We will cover the main three in a series of posts: The Southern Route, The Central Route and The Northern Route. Yes, my imagination is flying high at the minute.
Regardless of which route we take, the final bit of the journey will be the same. Let me introduce you some of the beautiful contries we will be travelling through. Here we go:
Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, I cannot wait to meet you. I never thought such beauty could exist. Am I the only the only that see this and thinks of Aladdin and Ali Baba??
(Having said that, both Aladdin and Ali Baba are tales extracted from One Thousand and One Nights. And neither of them are set in Uzbekistan 🙂 Despite the surroundings of the famous cartoon movie, the original story of Aladdin is set in China whilst Ali Baba’s adventures took place in modern day Iran)
Completely ignored when we started planning our route, it has quickly become one of the must have’s for our trip based on what we have heard and seen from previous teams. Stunning landscapes such this are an excellent bait:
Kazakhstan (the East part)
From the old capital city of Almaty to the modern and bizarre Astana and everything in between, Kazakhstan will surely deliver some interesting stories.
Russia (The bit in between Kazakhstan and Mongolia)
There are two ways to enter Mongolia. The most common one is via Russia. The alternative is through China, although it is mandatory to book a Chinese tour guide for this. I actually have not got a clue about what to expect of this part of Russia. Surprise!
Our final destination. There is something different about this country. A guy from last year described the rally as follows:
The rally can really be divided into 2 parts: Mongolia and everything else before that.
Lack of roads. Or perhaps I should say lack of western-style roads. The country that once saw the birth of the largest contiguous land empire in history is now the most sparsely populated independent country in the world (1.76 people/km2, that is about 148 times less than the United Kingdom). Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic, which leads to images like this:
As we said at the beginning, easy. Or, as Paula’s dad would say: “I know exactly where I am at all times”, hopefully.
Say it with a map please
After all that, this is what the final leg of our trip will probably look like, more or less, who knows 🙂
And by popular demand, we also have a map for you to enjoy 🙂