Driving over 18,000 kilometers in a small and under-powered car. A challenge that Edouard described to us in greater detail.
The Mongol Rally is a “slightly” unusual car / motorcycle rally, with around 350 teams travelling from Prague to Ulan-Ude in Russia. With no preset route, the teams are free to choose their itineraries for themselves, with the ultimate goal of making it to the finish line.
The challenging track leads contestants over mountain ranges and through deserts and steppes. Sometimes the roads are asphalted, sometimes they’re less… comfortable. We were constantly filming our trip and produced a series of 10 videos that you can watch on RTL You.
We've just accepted the challenge ...
... and travelled from Bristol (UK) to Siberia. After buying a 15-year-old Fiat Panda for roughly €700, we hit the road.
From the beginning on, we were aware that driving around 1/3 of the world in an under-powered car would not be a smooth ride all the way. However, this did not keep us from trying to make it to the finish line. We set off from Bristol full of energy and euphoria and started to make our way through Europe, heading all the way to Turkey (ep.1-3). But we quickly realised that the roads would not get any better. First minor problems with our car kept us from maintaining the pace we had travelled at so far. Nevertheless, we made it from Turkey to Georgia, and then all the way to Azerbaijan. (Ep.3-4)
Further ahead into the journey, we drove across Turkmenistan (Ep.5), a rather strange country to say the least. All cars and buildings are white - the president desires so. Before leaving Turkmenistan, and maybe the craziest capital in the world, we had to pass by the so-called “Gates of Hell”, a crater in the middle of the desert that burns 24/7.
We then drove through Uzbekistan and, for once, did not encounter too many (new) troubles with our car. The same cannot be said of the local food. (Ep.6)
Pamir Highway at over 4,600 meters
The hardest part of the rally was yet to come: the Pamir Highway, the second-highest international road in the world. Well… to call it a road would perhaps be an overstatement. Our lovely Fiat Panda started falling apart - in hindsight it was probably too big an obstacle for the vehicle. The high altitude and the bad road conditions really made it hard for us. (Ep.7-8)
Even if the odds were stacked against us, we eventually made it across the Pamir Highway, and even quickly crossed into China. We were convinced that we had left the hardest part behind us and were not really prepared for what was coming for us. The aftermath of the bad roads, the high altitude and the constantly changing weather conditions made it increasingly problematic for us to continue our journey. It was in Kazakhstan when everything went south. Our engine broke and we were stuck in a country that doesn’t have a single spare part for a Fiat car for 11 days. (Ep.9) There was no chance of finding an engine. We started to be desperate and it seemed uncertain that we would find a solution. We began losing hope that we would make it to the end.
Social media and solidarity as a rescue
A most unexpected turn of events took place just before the Bristangolia team was ready to call it a day. We thought we would be unable to finish the last 3,000 kilometers (after having driven 15,000 kilometers) and were increasingly demotivated. Rescue eventually came in the form of three Austrian Mongol Rally participants offering the impossible.
After seeing on Instagram what happened to our car, Austria’s Team Voyage wanted to help us fulfill our dream. They not only came to pick us up, but even offered to tow the car the last few kilometers (... 3.000 :-)). (Ep.10)
Together with them we nearly drove four days non-stop, without an engine and heating, in the rain and Siberian cold. In mid-September, we hit our target together with Team Voyage, and even drove across the finish line ourselves.
20 countries, 2 deserts, 3 mountain ranges, 18,000 kilometers, and 8 time zones.
It was not always easy but it was certainly the best thing we have done so far. A beautiful time and great memories we will never forget!
And to share the journey with you, we've made a whole series. 10 videos that you can watch on RTL You to experience our adventures with us!