We had a lot of time on our hands while we were waiting for the perfect car.
And while we were waiting we might as well try to create a route of sorts. This might seems slightly strange with all the words of spontaneous ideas from the organizer. And I agree. The route should indeed be spontaneous. The adventure would be even more… Well, adventurous.
There are (at the time of me writing these words a sourced on the infallible internets) approximately 195 countries on the world. I’m sure someone’s screaming at the screen saying some other number. But some country might not be a real country. And the countries usually have borders. Sometimes one needs a visa to cross said border.
I really like the idea of going wherever one likes to go in the moment, of being able to adjust the course, of being completely free. And yet I don’t fancy the idea of being only able to look at one particular no man’s land just because something’s wrong with papers. I think I’d also get quite bored of looking at the same cell walls for a period of time. I just enjoy outdoors more. Mateja agreed with me strongly.
An approximation of a route plan is not a fixed itinerary with every second being planed for tours. It’s just a list of countries we’d be driving through. Just to see what visas we’d need. And maybe to look for some sightseeing opportunity.
Even before we started planning we decided to collect as many visas as possible. The most suitable route would probably be the south one. Even a quick glance at the maps gave us some limitations. Limitations in the form of less then suitable touristy countries. Such as Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.
Some other ones proved to be quite fascinating, but very hard to get in or out of. Or just to expensive to visit. China for example. The International Drivers Permit means nothing to the Chinese bureaucracy. We’d need to get some sort of Chinese permit to drive our car there. It’s supposed to be quite simple for those flying in. But we’d drive in. According to the internet that’s either very hard or very expensive. The easiest way is supposed to be if we’d hire a guide/driver. It may not come as a surprise, but we’d have to pay him. And China became our next limiting factor.
But we still wanted to drive as south as possible. We opened our beloved online map and stared to draw some lines.
Let’s start at the beginning. Our voyage will start in Slovenia. We’ll travel to Czech Republic through Austria.
Once we go through the official start procedure, we’ll turn south. Towards Romania. The path to it will lead us through Slovakia and Hungary. Oh, one of the best driving roads in the world is waiting for us in Romania – Transfagarasan. We’ll continue to Bulgaria. The fun should really begin then. It start with Turkey and continues with Georgia and Azerbaijan. We’ll visit Georgia again because they have good food and we’d like drive to a place we left out the previous year. Azerbaijan is mostly there as a backup plan for us getting to… Turkmenistan. We can get there via a ferry over the Caspian sea or overland through Iran.
We really want to visit Iran. But there might be some problems with getting a visa and have decided to make a backup plan. We’ll be visiting the *stans after Iran. – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We’ll do most of the driving through them on the Pamir highway, which is also a part of the Silk road. Next country we’d like to visit is Kazakhstan. We’ll try to catch a Soyuz rocket going into the vastness of space. A short visit to Russia will follow before we enter the vast and empty Mongolia. The finish line is in Ulan-ude, which is in Russia.
We’d like to finish the adventure the only true way – by driving home. We’ll drive to Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Austria.
Out route for the official part of the Mongol Rally is over 14000 km long. The whole route is over 23000 km long. We’ll be driving through more than 20 countries. On our way we’ll visit coasts and mountains. The highest point of our journey will be over 4600m above the sea level. We’ll be driving through lush forests and endless deserts. We’ll be passing small creeks and mighty rivers. We’ll encounter cold and hot weather. We’ll be driving on roads, bad roads and off-road.
The list and the planned (un)route is just a wish list. We can only be sure we’ll be driving through Slovenia. All of the other countries and vast landscapes are only what we’d like to see. Sometimes one doesn’t get what one wishes for. And sometimes the wish doesn’t come true right away. Sometimes the wish doesn’t come true due to some circumstances one doesn’t have any control over. Only one thing is certain. We’ll do our best to make our wishes come true. That we’ll be able to drive through all of the countries. But the Mongol Rally is a challenge. It’s an adventure. It’s problem solving. It’s a voyage into the unknown, at least for us.
But we still can’t do it without a car.