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Epic horseback ride: A journey back in time

Many horse lovers dream of making an epic journey, seeing a slice of the world from the saddle.

genghis-khan-tim-copeHowever, few would be made of stern enough stuff to ever contemplate the kind of journey undertaken by Australian adventurer Tim Cope.

Cope undertook an epic 10,000km journey on horseback across the Eurasian steppe.

His journey took him from Mongolia, through Kazakhstan and Russia, to the Ukraine. He then entered Hungary for the final leg of his journey to the banks of the Danube River.

Cope’s 496-page book, On the Trail of Genghis Khan, is his account of that journey.

Cope writes an intensely personal account of his travels – the hardships, fear, exhilaration and personal tragedy that punctuated the odyssey.

He does a splendid job of intertwining the colorful history of each region as he passes through it, in doing so highlighting the many challenges faced by those who yearn for the traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Cope faced extreme hardship along the way. The steppe only occasionally offered Cope an easy path, with abundant grass, mild temperatures and easy terrain.

For the most part, he was facing the extremes of ferocious cold, searing heat, bitter winds, or snow. Water was not always easy to find, and mountains and deserts were formidable obstacles that Cope had to overcome in reaching his destination.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads
by Tim Cope
Bloomsbury, 496pp
ISBN-10: 1608190722; ISBN-13: 978-1608190720
NZ RRP $36.99; Available from Tim Cope’s website, and from Amazon.

His constant companions throughout were his horses and his Khazakh dog, Tigon, who was ultimately to return to Australia with him after clearing a sea of red tape.

The Eurasian steppe is the cradle of the nomadic lifestyle. Cope recounts tales of conquest and calamity across the steppe and across the centuries, but one thing stands out as his tale unfolds.

That is the immense harm that the Soviet empire, with its industrialization and collectivization, wreaked on its inhabitants.

Meet Tim Cope

Tim will be showing incredible behind the scenes footage from his documentary (Banff Mountain Film Festival People’s Choice Award Winner 2011) and talking about his journey across the steppe during his book tour this month. Book signings will take place after each presentation.

Tickets are $15 and are available here.

  • Auckland: Mon 14 Oct, 6.30pm,
    Auckland Girls Grammar, Howe Street
  • Wellington: Tues 15 Oct, 6.30pm,
    Pipitea Campus, Victoria University
  • Christchurch: Wed 16 Oct, 6,30pm, Middleton Grange School

For many, the ways of centuries past have been lost. Drink and destitution are all that remain for many steppe inhabitants in the aftermath of Soviet rule.

It is a cliche to suggest that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters. Cope manages to cleverly interweave a journey that covers not only 10,000km, but many centuries.

It is a tale of triumph and one of sadness. The erosion of the traditional way of life is a great tragedy that was forced upon the people.

Yet Cope still finds people clinging to traditions. It was buoying to learn that some still yearned for a return to the old ways.

Apparent, too, was the value that the people of the steppe placed in horses. A good horse is a valuable commodity, and offers to buy them were a fairly regular occurrence, not to mention a couple of attempts to steal them.

One can hardly dispute the description of Cope as a professional adventurer. He is also a film-maker and motivational speaker.

His book is far more than a story about an epic horse ride. It is a moving and insightful story, a rare insight into life on the steppe.

 

More information: http://www.timcopejourneys.com/

Tim Cope is a leading member of the Long Riders’ Guild.

 

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