In 2004, young Australian adventurer Tim Cope embarked on a journey of a lifetime – travelling 10,000kms alone on horseback across the Eurasian steppe, filming this six-part series along the way.
From the former Mongol capital Karakorum to the Danube River in Hungary, through diverse nations linked by nomadic roots, Tim retraced the path of the first nomads and followed the route taken by legendary Genghis Khan as he forged his great empire.
Over three and a half gruelling years, Tim lived just as the ancient nomads did. When he set out with his horses and his fearless dog Tigon, there was no certainty – no backup from a camera crew, no escape route – and he could barely ride a horse. Ahead lay wolf-infested plateaux, the glaciated Altai Mountains, minus 50 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 peaks of the Carpathian Mountains. He would also suffer the greatest tragedy of his life, the death of his father in an accident in Australia. To cope, Tim would have to draw on everything he learnt from the nomads.
The extreme challenges gave Tim empathy and insight into the nomadic way of life, and as a young man growing up, the journey became a personal rite of passage. Along the way, just as the nomads did, Tim sought refuge with local families. They welcomed him with open arms and traditional nomad hospitality, and taught him the way of the steppe.
At the end of his journey, Tim arrived on the banks of the Danube River having achieved the first crossing of the steppe in modern times.
THE TRAIL OF GENGHIS KHAN starts on Wednesday, July 28, 8pm on ABC2.