Mongolia Charity Rally vs. Mongol Rally – now what´s the difference?
Just before we decided to sign up for the rally to Mongolia we discovered that we had been reading on different sites, and had different information on some things. The Mongolia Charity Rally (MCR) and the Mongol Rally (MR) both start in London and end in Ulaan Baatar – but the MR start one week later from London than the MCR. Both of them focus on the charity in the whole adventure – drive 16 000 km from London to Ulan Baatar and fundraise as much money as possible for charity. So – what´s the difference? Well, the obvious was easy to figure out: the MCH is arranged by Charity Rallies, a volunteer branch of the British based charity organization Go Help, which also has a branch in Mongolia. The MR is arranged by the Adventurist, a British based for-profit company who is here to make the world less boring. Since we´re a fan of both humanitarian work and a less boring world we definitely had to find out more before we signed up!
Google, what to do without it? We found several sites and discussion forums which explained the differences between the rallies, and here´s the explanation: The rallies started out with the same organizers as a non-profit charity rally, but then one branch decided to take the profit making route (MR) and the other one stuck to the charity route (MCR). One of the main differences is the vehicle you can bring. The MR focus on the adventure of driving “a car your granny drives to the supermarket” with motors less than 1.2 with the only demand that it is not older than 10 years. The cars are given away when arriving Mongolia (I haven´t really been able to find out if it´s donated to specific charities or just given away to anyone of your choice). The MCR encourage the teams to take vehicles that are useful charity donations for Mongolia – ranging from fire trucks, ambulances, 4x4s, and vans. They have a good co-operation with the Mongolia government, and most of the vehicles the teams bring in to Mongolia are imported tax-free due to usefulness for the country. The entry fees are also different for the two rallies: the MR is £700 while the MCR is £295 (2011 prices).
For us it was not a very difficult choice. With charity in combination with adventure in mind, and one volunteer-work-freak on the team, Mongolia Charity Rally is our thing. We will probably miss some great parties on the way and when we arrive in Ulaan Bataar arranged by the Adventurist and MR, but hey – we have never had any problems making our own parties! On the other hand, we will be seen off in London launching Nadaam with all the Mongolians living in London. This is one of the biggest festivals for Mongolians, and we will be seen off with Mongolian cultural arrangements – a great teaser of what is expecting us when we finally get there!
So all in all, the difference is not so big. Either you do the MCR or the MR, you will drive all the 16ooo km between London and Ulaan Bataar, you will raise money for some good charities, you will experience people and cultures, car breakdowns and being stuck in the desert, you will eat food from so many different cuisines and you will get lost to the extent you believe you will never ever see civilization again – but all in all I believe we all will have the time of our life, and in the end everything will probable work out fine!
Now, this is my resume of information found on different pages and forums – if you are one of the involved ones and find any of my information way out, please notify me so I can get it straight!