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Lone adventurer Tim Cope travelled the entire length of the Eurasian steppe on horseback from the ancient capital of Mongolia to the Danube River in Hungary This formidable 6000 mile journey took three years to complete It is a journey that has not been completed successfully since the days of Genghis KhanTrekking through wolf infested plateaus down into deep forests and up over glaciers across sub zero barren landscapes scorching deserts and through treacherous mountain passes Cope travelled deep into the heart of the nomadic way of life that has dominated the Eurasian steppe for thousands of years Alone except for a trusted dog and a succession of thirteen horses many stolen along the way he encountered incredible hospitality from those who welcomed him on his journey – a tradition that is the linchpin of human survival on the steppeWith the Kazakh aphorism ‘To understand the wolf you must put the skin of a wolf on and look through its eyes’ playing constantly in his thoughts Cope became immersed in the land and its people moving through both space and time as witness to the rich past and to the often painful complexities of present day life still recovering from Soviet ruleOn the Trail of Genghis Khan is a tale of survival adventure and discovery set in a fascinating and politically volatile region It is an elegy for the nomadic way of life and proof that the great age of exploration is not yet over

10 thoughts on “On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads

  1. says:

    On the Trail of Genghis Khan An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads is an adventurer Tim's solo trek on horseback from Mongolia to Hungary to honor and understand the steppe nomadsMan oh man this is not what I expected at all It is much than a recount of a trek The author took me with him feeling the connection with him and the animals all the while teaching me in the most fun history class I've ever sat throughTim also lovingly decribes and accounts the lives of the people he meets their legends and traditionsI've ran out of tabs from all the points of the books I noted So many parts of beautiful writing wild facts and laugh out loud moments

  2. says:

    Over the last 5 days I've just spent much of my free time tagging along with Tim Cope as he traveled by horse from Ulaanbaatar to Hungary We rode in freezing and sweltering temperatures slept yurts mining camps under the moon hiding from the sun on farms offices and in the homes of kindly people We learned horsemanship by doing avoided bandits nearly died of thirst our horses too and stared down bureaucrats We met nomads miners poachers oilmen café owners black market suppliers and people of little known of tribes and cultures We drank a lot of vodka and had a romance Like the author I hated to see this trip endTim Cope began as no stranger to wilderness travel He had bicycled across Russia and rowed a boat 2500 miles from Lake Baikal to the Arctic Circle This trip was designed to cross the terrain covered by Genghis Khan's army from its Mongolian home to its farthest destinationCope is informative on how history has shaped the life the people met along the way sometimes going back hundreds of years For instance the Klamak people now working to preserve their culture as well as the over hunted saiga may have descended from members of Khan's army stranded in Russia In Kazakhstan recent history has resulted in a formerly migratory people living on the shells of the collective farms with broken and rusted machinery scattered all about Kazakhs are still coping with Stalin's collectivization which was accompanied by an influx of Russians making the Kazakhs a minority in their own country The nomadic way of life was shattered; the Kazakh language was banned The Tatars expelled from the Crimea by Stalin have only been allowed to return since the 1980's and are attempting to rebuild their lives and cultureDespite the oil boom and recent gold discoveries there are economic struggles everywhere Along with the forbidding landscape and the danger of bandits there is incredible hospitality in the country While hospitality is harder to come by in cities Cope was housed for over a month and given help with his horses and visa application in Atyrau an oil boom town on the Kazakh Russian border At the trip's end in Hungary Cope was greeted with great fanfare by horse loving people many seeking connection with their nomadic heritageEach chapter covers a county and is introduced by a map showing all the places on written about The publisher is generous with color photographs I wish they were larger There is a good table of Steppe people and a glossary at the endPrior to this I considered Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier to be my top travel adventure read Tim Cope's lovingly written On the Trail of Genghis Khan is my new gold standard for travel adventure literature

  3. says:

    Weighed up I have to say I've found this a bit of a scarifying read We know that Genghis Khan was the last if the most spectacular assertion of steppe nomads over settled and that ever since his age the nomads have been on the losing side But this book brings it home to you We know the 20th century was horrific than the 13th and then there are the centuries in between The best of this book I feel was the sense of tragic absurdity we reached at about the centre of the steppe – like a Camus novel even though I've forgotten them He does meet with random acts of kindness from strangers and with great characters or eccentrics that cheer you up on the journey The adventure sounds romantic and at times it is But it's a bleak prospect he travels through My spirits were flagging in the Ukraine when we came upon the Hutsuls who had kept safe an island of sanity in the Carpathian Mountains We end on a high note in Hungary with much interest in the past but then the afterword warns of the effect of massive new mines in the last real bastion itself Mongolia I think any review has to mention the drunkenness which is a scourge right the way from Mongolia to Hungary On the sunny side He achieves his goal to learn to look through the eyes of a nomad Late in his trip he starts to talk about the settled's attitude to roads and fences and he can start to take down our own settled assumptions One evening spent on the old circuit with a nomad family in Kazakhstan sticks in the head – along with other pockets of traditional life he is happy to stumble on Then there is the awful travesty of a hunt by rifle out a car window google 'Kazakh eagle hunters' for pictures of the old style version he describes It's an upsetting book though Tim with his decision to “trust in people's good side” can see that good side even in testing circumstances and that counts for a lot An old man who sells him a horse acts very rudely but then you learn what the horse means to him For Genghis in the 13th century it's hard to sort history from legend One thing that gets slurred over freuently and does here – although mostly in his notes – is the evolution of the Mongol idea of world conuest It seems to have set in with success; its first non legendary expression dates from after Genghis Khan's lifetime Genghis may have seen its early growth; certainly he didn't leave Mongolia with world conuest already in his sights There's enough madness and madmen in here without that I wouldn't have missed this book of course but it ain't a joyride

  4. says:

    This is a long book covering the three years that the author rode and led horses across Mongolia Kazakhstan Russia and Hungary Tim Cope is from Australia and I think that gave him an edge in meeting and relating to the people he met – a “Westerner” who was not an American or European He was not a horseman before beginning his journey but felt that he needed to use horses to better understand and appreciate the role of the horse in nomadic culture and in Genghis Khan’s travels He spoke fairly fluent Russian and learned some MongolianMy favorite area of Cope’s travels was Mongolia; I believe Cope liked this area best too The nomadic life is still pretty healthy in Mongolia and the people he met still reflected the nomadic culture that he was looking for Once he gets to Kazakhstan and Russia the nomadic life is pretty much gone His comments on the effect of Soviet and post Soviet eras on nomadic culture are very interesting I was surprised and touched that several times Cope’s trip and even his life were saved by the acts of unexpected peopleOne of the things I enjoyed was watching Cope grow and learn as he traveled I liked him much better by the end of the trip I appreciate that he admitted but did not make light of his mistakes and inexperience I also appreciate that he notes but does not overly belabor the terrible bureaucratic hassles that he had to endure – at times having to wait weeks for permits and visas This experience seems to be consistent with those in other books I have read about travel in former Soviet areas A long book but worth reading

  5. says:

    A better than most personal adventure story of a 'professional' writer traveler adventurer filmmaker lecturer etc who traveled the paths of the Mongol horde It could have easily been called 'My Years on Horseback Learning all the thing I should have thought of before I left on this adventure' Or not The reader of books of this type needs to be prepared for and in the mood for the self centered style that is inherent in these works Author Cope does a good job of mixing history legend personal experience and modern problems in his storyFar better than most books of this genre

  6. says:

    25 It was a long long journeyand I become bored

  7. says:

    Bicycling across Asia from western Russia to Beijing in 2000 Australian adventurer Tim Cope felt confined by the need to follow existing roads instead of roaming freely across the steppes through which he passed Reading about how Genghis Khan and his Golden horde of 100000 Mongol warriors with their 300000 Mongolian horses had subjugated the world from China to the Danube in 1240 AD Cope conceived the plan to recreate Khan's epic journey Although he had not sat on a horse since he was seven when he promptly fell off Cope traveled to Mongolia in 2004 where he purchased the first three of the 13 horses and one camel he would employ on the trip He then set out to retrace Khan's route all the way to the Danube first with his then girlfriend and later on his own with the company of Tigon a dog that followed him out of a village and stayed with him the next 6000 miles This journey with interruptions would take three years to complete On the way Cope kept a detailed journal of the places he visited the extraordinary people he encountered ranging from thieves to priests and the adversities he and his animals faced along with his thoughts about the how Central Asia has evolved from nomadism to urban sedentary cultures Stalin's collectivism as he stamped out the free ranging tribes of the steppes in the 1930s and 1940s was a major influence Cope's observations of the ethnic and cultural divides between Russians and local ethnic groups in Crimea and Ukraine are highly relevant to contemporary political conflicts in that area While I have read a number of books on epic journeys including solo trips by sea Joshua Slocum Sailing Alone Around the World automobile John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley and William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways and even by foot Peter Jenkins' The Walk West A Walk Across America the animals make this narrative uniue Unlike Tim and Tigon the horses and camel had to live off the land so there is a constant search for grass grain and water across the arid deserts and steppes Humans and animals alike are subject to illness and injury and subject to the depredations of thieves as well as the hospitality of strangers along the way The bonds that grow among the euine canine and human fellow travelers are an important part of the narrative Cope faced one adversity that never troubled Genghis Kahn namely officious border crossing guards with their demands for papers visas and permits to import or export live animals annoyances that Khan's warriors would have skewered with their swords but which delayed Cope for weeks This lengthy is illustrated with numerous color photographs of the people and places encountered and there are ample maps a good index a bibliography interesting end notes and even a glossary of Mongolian Russian Kazackian and other terms encountered

  8. says:

    Mr Cope writes an intriguing introduction and first Chapter that drew me into the book He made me hungry to learn about his fascinating journey as a nomadic horse rider across 6000 miles of the Eurasian steppe desert and mountains Plus he baited me with the fascinating history of its incredibly intriguing people groups which are little known by Westerners like meThe author has a fluid ability to picture the vast sweep of the Mongolian steppe in poetic language that helps me to feel like I am there seeing itHe also describes an 800 year old history about Genghis Khan the ruler of all people who live in felt tents everywhere with a passion and knowledge that makes it easy to take in and enjoyI was amazed to learn that Genghis his sons and grandsons ruled an empire which stretched further east and west from central Mongolia than any other that has ever existed anywhere on earthBlessings in Jesus all GaryFPattonCopyright © 2014 09 08 gfp '42™

  9. says:

    Man with way too much time on his hands rides horse from Mongolia steppe to Hungarian steppe and writes utterly compelling book He's even taught himself fluent Russian to chat to the locals and a tolerance for the local vodka that inevitably flows with every human encounter Thus emerges part travelogue 'How I Learned To Ride a Horse' 'Kazahstan Is Like Really Really Big'; part historical context 'Why the Heck Did the Mongols Do This 700 Years Ago Anyway?' and like all truly great travel writing part rumination on lives in a landscape The uiet desperation of a once proud nomadic people eeking out a marginal existence across the desolate Kazakh steppe is especially memorable Truly one of the most rewarding pieces of traveladventure writing I've ever read And I've barely ever been near a horse

  10. says:

    I would have given this book ten stars if that were possibleTim Cope an Australian took on an adventure that many have wanted but few have dared He crossed the Eurasian Steppes from Mongolia to Hungary 6000 miles alone on horseback to gain a true understanding of the life of the nomads who once dominated this land The book is the story of his journey the people he met and the obstacles he encountered as well as the history of Genghis Khan and his descendants and their amazing feats riding across the steppes conuering all they met and ruling in unexpected ways When Cope began he was a young man who had been on a horse once and was generally afraid of them At the end he describes a glorious ride bareback His journey took over three yearsThis trip reuired detailed planning from working with a vet to prepare for the kinds of problems he would face with three horses traveling long distances establishing contacts in each country to help him with issues as they arose getting visas to cross borders with and without animals mapping the route and choosing gear to support the journey He met nomadic peoples all across the land some who still lived the life of their ancestors and others who when touched deeply by Tim's journey brought out an old saddle or some other remnant of an ancestor's now forgotten way of life Along the route through open grassy steppes over mountains through deserts and along rivers and inland seas the reader meets nomads in one area packing up a yurt or herding sheep and a few miles on he meets others who have been forcibly removed from their way of life to manage collective farms and industries He meets some who survived the Stalin deportations and exile to Siberia to return later to nothing their homes and land having been taken by those who remained The remnants of the Soviet Union's remaking of the culture and landscape are dismally depressing and it is little wonder that alcohol plays a major role in getting through the day The damage done to the landscape in some parts is stunning and disturbing The incredible stupidity behind massive collectivization of farm and industry is so obvious as to wonder why anyone ever thought it would workMongolia Kazakhstan Southern Russia and Ukraine are undergoing tremendous change right now and in even a few years this journey would be uite different if even possible The author passed through Crimea and the area in Ukraine that is now caught in a military conflict and when he passed through parts of Mongolia and Kazakhstan he noted the regions that have recently been identified to hold valuable ore deposits Development can't be far away The nomads carry with them a way of life that is gentle with the land and animals and relies on a web of community reinforced by strict rules of hospitality among others The wonder is the number of strangers who took the author in helped him correct mistakes and false notions and guided him on his way People took care of his horses fed him and housed him and some traveled miles with him to ensure he got onto the right track literally Without the help of these men and women and almost all were men in some parts guiding him across the steppes he would not have made it The author takes a break from his journey when his father dies unexpectedly and his mourning over his death is part of the narrative Cope is the oldest in his family and very close to his father who taught him to love the outdoors Cope's grief adds a poignancy to the loss of the nomadic way of life he sees all around him as he travels farther westThrough it all the author is blessed with hardy animals able to tolerate temperatures of 40 degrees below zero and 100 degree heat The three horses two especially and a dog given by a young disabled boy become the author's family He is also blessed with enormous good luck