SM Stowaway, Mongol Rally 2012, by Charlie Grosso

After months of preparation, we are finally at Klenova Castle, about an hour outside of Prague, ready for the official Mongol Rally kick off.

The Mongol Rally is presented by The Adventurists (namely Rob and Joolz) who drove from London to Ulaan Baator in the summer of 2004 on a lark, thus began the adventure.

The Mongol Rally, Klenova Castle, by Charlie Grosso

You might be wondering, what does it cost to do The Mongol Rally?

To start with each team has to pay an £850 rally fee. There is a vehicle deposit of another £800, which will be refunded to you once you complete the rally or have properly disposed of your car if you break down somewhere along the way. Each team has to raise at least £1000 for the charity. You have the cost (and headache) of visas, hostels / camping, gas, car purchase, repair, food, beer and bribe money, all of it are on you and your team, none is provided for or supported by The Adventurists. The cost adds up quickly which is why many teams endeavor to get sponsors for the rally.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had some time to contemplate the rally and I came to realize one can have one’s own Mongol Rally if they so desire. The adventure in the rally is that there are no structural supports. The rally has no specific route, no check in points, no help along the way — you are on your own until you pull into Ulaana Baatar and hand over your car keys for the charity auction.

So….then what does The Adventurist do for you and your £850?

Well…they take care of the paper work and fee for importing the car in collaboration with the NGO in Mongolia. There is a fantastic kick off party at Goodwood, UK and another one in a castle in Klenova, Czech Republic (which I am about to experience). You get stickers for your car, t-shirts, a nicely printed pamphlet on useful things to remember along the road and some wet-wipes. When you complete the 10,000 mile drive with your teammates and drag yourself in to Mongolia, there is another party there to welcome the dirty and road worn you!

Hmmm…..

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Yeah…I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now.

Czech Out, Mongol Rally, by Charlie Grosso

Driving Goggles, Mongol Rally, by Charlie Grosso

Except, I am here at Klenova Castle with Pam and there is a gradual building of excitement. Different teams are arriving by the hour. Some of them have done the London kick off and others are just pulling in.

Czech Out, Mongol Rally, by Charlie Grosso

Pirate Flag, Festival of Slow, by Charlie Grosso

You walk around the camp ground, check out everyone’s car, meet every combination of teams possible, strangers come up to you and know who you are because you’ve exchanged emails, tweets or Facebook messages and all of sudden you are part of this community. A community of adventure seeking, boundary pushing, travel junkies just like you!

Matthew and Gavin, The Mongol Rally, by Charlie Grosso

The 800 year old Klenova Castle is filled with a sense of camaraderie for what is to come and you do not need to explain your motives for wanting to do this to any of them. They only know too well.

Then I wonder…

What is the cost of belonging?

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You might also be interested in:
What made me say yes to 10,000 miles of insanity?
The Trouble with wanting to do good
The REAL challenge of The Mongol Rally