Steve Garguilo and his friend Nate Mook delivered this TEDxCarthage talk recently, which is worth 15 minutes if nothing else to hear about their Mongol Rally experience. Though I think their point about reconsidering borders is an important topic too.
Steve and I met a few years ago, and we’ve sat on the board of The Nittany Valley Society for the past two years. An inexplicable personality in many ways, he’s the sort of person you want in your life after your first encounter. Their Mongol Rally is one example for why:
The rules of the Mongol Rally are simple: First, per the official guidelines, “You can take any car, as long as it’s crap and with an engine of 1 litre or less.” Garguilo and Mook took a 750CC Fiat Panda, circa 1992. “You can get a sense of how old it was by knowing that the windshield said ‘Made in Czechoslovakia’ on it,” said Garguilo. “A car with this small of an engine was a challenge for much of the journey, especially as we got into places with incredible mountains and places with no roads.”
Second, “You are on your own.” There is no backup and no support for participants of the Mongol Rally. Solve your problems yourself, declare the guidelines, or it’s not really an adventure to begin with.
Last, “Save the world.” The purpose of the Mongol Rally is to raise a minimum of £1000 (about $1,500) for charity, £500 of which goes to the official charity of The Adventurists, “Cool Earth.” Participants have the option of donating the other £500 to a charity of their choice. Garguilo and Mook chose The Africa Prisons Project, which works with prison administrators, prison staff and prisoners themselves in Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, to isolate and respond to their needs, thus transforming the lives of prisoners, and how they are viewed and treated by society at large.