Team Nomadic Numpties on the Mongol Rally

Fondly referred to as “our dynamic duo”, Henri and Turbo have returned from their epic fundraising mission. Henri is one of the freelance Project Managers at Matrix and Turbo is a well-known and well-respected Lighting Designer at TSL Lighting. Both of them agreed that they wanted to support an amazing charity, one that supports people in the events industry: BackupThe Technical Entertainment Charity was the perfect choice. This organisation provides financial support to industry technical professionals working in live events, theatre, TV and film.

Henri and Turbo chose to embark upon a challenge that would provide fantastic awareness for the charity and raise essential funds to support our event colleagues. The challenge itself is called the Mongol Rally, which would essentially see our dynamic duo renamed as “The Nomadic Numpties” and travel to Mongolia, in their very own Ferrari…also known as Poppy the Perodua.

We caught up with Henri and Turbo upon their return, this is their adventure…

Welcome back to UK soil – happy to be back?
Yes, we more than achieved what we wanted. We surprisingly managed to get Poppy and ourselves back in one piece and most importantly, we raised more than we ever thought possible for the BackUp charity. We had an absolutely epic time doing it!

Talk us through the planning process
It took us 6 months in total to plan everything, visas, vehicle import / export, carnets, equipment and second passports. Our Mongol Rally organisation spreadsheet is quite a sight to behold!

Prior to setting off, you managed to raise a lot of money, how did you do this?
We approached a number of clients and suppliers and told them of our adventure, we offered them an opportunity to support us and BackUp. This also provided a bit of advertising for each company – win win for both parties really. Each “headline sponsor” was a company or individual that had donated a chunk of cash, in return they had their logo emblazoned on Poppy.

With the headline sponsors and all the unbelievably generous donations prior to and during our adventure, we raised £500 for Cool Earth (the official Mongol Rally Charity) and £6,435 for BackUp, our chosen charity. If you didn’t think we’d make it back, and were hoping you’d never see us again…. bad luck!

The donation link is still active and you can continue to sponsor us here:

So, talk us through the actual adventure
The Mongol Rally challenge starts in Kent, England and you end up at the Finish Line in Ulan Ude, Russia via any route you choose. Our route saw us travel through 24 different countries and cover more than 18,000miles. We travelled through: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

How long did this take you?
We were on the road for 72 days. 55 of those, we camped out under the stars, satellites and occasionally rain. 

What was your favourite location and why?
Mongolia for the beautiful view and unbelievable wild life. Eagles swooping overhead, camels, horses and yaks in the roads. No roads (where there should be roads) meant we had a wonderful opportunity to choose our own destiny, every time you play the “where does this track go” game.

Any mishaps that happened along the way?
We were very lucky overall with Poppy (the car), no punctures or mechanical failures thank goodness. We invested in decent rally tyres prior to the start, a decision that definitely paid off in the long run, considering the 4000kms total of off-roading we did. I think two suspension replacements and three roof rack bodges/welds, were probably to be expected.

We also very nearly had all our documents and most importantly my treasured teddy bear stolen at the Russian/Mongolian border. This would’ve been a disaster, thankfully we managed to escape this, and our rally experience was able to continue.

Favourite part of the experience?
The privilege of meeting such a variety of people, we experienced so many different countries and cultures. Overland travel allows you to see a country and its scenery, at a completely different pace. I think the thing that surprised us the most, was the camaraderie between all the teams, the feeling of being supported by a network of strangers, all with the same crazy goal.

Least favourite part of the experience?
Nothing! Even when we were tired, stressed, filthy and lost, it was all part of the adventure and fun. We thought the border crossings would be the worst, but even our longest 8 hours from Iran to Turkmenistan was fine. You just find some shade, put your feet up, have a picnic of whatever random food you happen to have on board and listen to the Archers omnibus!

What you enjoyed the most when the experience finished?
It’s funny really, we both travel so much with work and never really miss much. However, after the Mongol Rally experience we definitely enjoyed cheese and tomato sandwiches, pork pies, fresh veg and salad. We also realised how complacent we are living in UK; we now appreciate the simple things most of us take for granted. Such as showers, running water and being able to walk around in socks without getting wet feet.

Is there anything you miss now it is over?
The freedom of life on the road, living hour to hour and knowing you have everything you need in Poppy.

 So, what is next for our dynamic duo…
I’m not sure anything will compare or beat the “motoring stupidity on a global scale’ that is the Mongol Rally. Once we’re settled back in to our normal lives, we may start work converting a Russian UAZ into a campervan, to continue our Nomadic Numpties adventures – watch this space 😉