Tim's and Tigon's three-year Genghis Khan ride ends under the stars of the Hungarian steppe

Posted: Sep 24, 2007 05:46 pm EDT

(ThePoles.com) Saturday, Tim rode the final moments of his magical journey with his three horses and dog Tigon into the most sacred and important historical site in Hungary (Opusztaszer), where in the year 896 the modern nation of Hungary was born.

Goodbye to the horses

In a ceremony Tim pad tribute to the original nomads of Hungary (known as Magyars) who came from the east by horse, and the many other steppe peoples who have migrated across Eurasia for millennia, including the Mongols.

Greeted by ambassadors of Mongolia, Australia, and Kazakhstan, a member of Hungarian parliament, president of the national equestrian tourism association, famous Scottish explorer Gordon Naysmith, fifty horsemen in traditional wear, and his mother from Australia, Tim rode down an avenue with up to 1 000 onlookers before laying a wreath upon the shrine dedicated to the Eurasian Nomads who founded the nation of Hungary.

Under the stars of the Hungarian steppe on the day after equinox, Tims journey was laid to rest at a nearby yourt camp.

Tim donated his horses to the kids of an orphanage but told AP that he was concerned about letting them go. "I'm feeling a bit panicky about finishing because I can't imagine saying goodbye to the horses," he said.

800 years after Genghis Khan ruled Mongolias steppes all the way to Eastern Europe; Tim Cope, 28, has followed the Mongol emperors tracks on horse-back. The adventure has spanned over three years and 10,000km.

The Aussie long rider and his dog Tigon set out on their great adventure on May 31, 2004. From Mongolias Altai Mountains, they crossed into the plains of Kazakhstan, the high alpine pastures of the Tien Shan and Pamirs in Kyrgyzstan, then headed westward on the fringes of the Kyzylkum desert to the dying Aral Sea. From that point they crossed into Russia, then Ukraine along the coastland of the Black sea, before ending up in Hungary.

Not bad, considering that before the expedition, Tim had never been on a horse back in his life.

Tim, his dog and horses have faced temperatures ranging from -52 to 54°C, frostbite, and robbery. At one point, Tim was hit by a car. He didn't really expect the current journey to turn into such a challenge. All he wanted was to be a simple nomad for a while.

I wanted to know what it was like to be a nomad; to travel to Europe by horse and understand what connections remain between the different cultures stretching from Mongolia to Hungary, he says.

The finish line was set at Opusztaszer, a national historical memorial park on the edge of the Eurasian steppe which celebrates the conquest and founding of Hungary by the nomadic Magyars from central Asia. Tim was greeted by the Kazakh, Mongolian and Australian ambassadors, plus Scottish Long Rider Gordon Smith, on behalf of the all the Long Riders from 35 countries.

CuChullaine OReilly, of the Long Riders Guild (the world's first international association of equestrian explorers) considers the trip as the first of a new age of horse-back adventures.

Though the Long Riders Guild has assisted equestrian explorers on every continent except Antarctica, Tims solo ride from Mongolia to Hungary will be remembered as having launched the modern age of equestrian travel, OReilly stated. Tim has proved that anyone can take a life-changing equestrian journey.


Tim donated his horses to the kids of an orphanage but Tigon stays. Image of Tim and Tigon courtesy of the expedition website.

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