Remember Genghis Khan? No? Yes?
The ‘Great Khan’ (that is what his name translates to) led the Mongols of the thirteenth century, various small tribes united by his charismatic, and swift leadership, into the Eurasian steppe. Over the next few years, Genghis Khan created the greatest, contiguous land empire in history. The trail of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire weaves through the steppes of Central Asia, the Sea of Japan and into Central Europe with Hungary representing the final frontier.
The dynamic relationship between man and horse on the Eurasian steppe gave rise to a succession of rich nomadic cultures,
Now, one crazy guy followed the trail again, just like the Mongols did.
Inspired by a desire to understand the nomadic way of life, Australian adventurer Tim Cope embarked on a remarkable journey
In June 2004 Tim set off on an epic journey, 10,000km from Mongolia to Hungary by Horse – a journey that eventually took him more than three years and led him on a deep journey into the fabric of nomad society on the Eurasian steppe. Guided by old Kazakh wisdom and his Kazakh dog Tigion, Tim lived just as the ancient nomads did.
“To understand the wolf, you must put on the skin of a wolf and look through its eyes”
Between Mongolia and Hungary, there lay wolf-infested plateaux, the glaciated Altai Mountains, minus fifty degree temperatures on the `starving steppe’, scorching heat in the Kazakh desert, violent clashes between sedentary and nomadic societies and the deep forests and treacherous peals of the Carpathians. He learnt to cope with the harshness of nomadic life by learning from them, while witnessing how the traditional ways hang precariously in the balance in the post-Soviet world. For Tim, the journey became a personal rite of passage.
At the end of his journey, Tim arrived on the Danube, having achieved the first crossing of the steppe in modern times.
‘On the trail of Genghis Khan’ recounts the story, the book written over 4 years. Cope’s writing is sharp, and gives the reader a traveller’s insight into the nomadic world. Cope writes about staying with local families who welcomed him with open arms and lots of vodka, showing their nomad hospitality, while teaching him the ways of the steppe and recounting their recent history: The Russian industrialization, and the forced collectivisation of Kazakhstan, which led to starvation of more than a million nomads. Along the way, he witnesses how the traditional ways hang precariously in the balance in the post-Soviet world.
An Australian bestseller, and in 2013 was the recipient of the Grand Prize at the Banff International Mountain Film and Book Festival, and also took out the award for best adventure travel title.
A documentary series has also been made.