Tim Cope is a celebrated Australian adventurer and author renowned as much for his iconic journeys, as for championing the people of the lands he travels through. He is a model example of resilience, responsible risk-taking, and the importance of building strong relationships, but has also earned the unique title from National Geographic of ‘cultural ambassador.’
Tim passionately presents the case that there are crucial lessons to be learned by stepping outside the comfort zone of our social constructs and reassessing life through the lens of unfamiliar cultures. He believes that the experience of adventure remains important in our digital era, in part because of the human wisdoms to be to be learned from in lands and people different to our own.
Tim is best known for his ambitious odyssey riding horses on the trail of Genghis Khan, 10,000km from Mongolia to Hungary across the great Eurasian Steppe. Australian Geographic billed this 'one of the greatest journeys of modern times.'
At the beginning of the journey Tim could barely ride a hose, but three and a half years later he made world headlines when he rode onto the banks of the Danube, along with his three horses and trusty canine companion, Tigon. To get there he had endured challenges that ranged from wolves and thieves, to isolation in freezing steppe and searing deserts, social unrest and bureaucratic bungling. Nearing the end he received the tragic news of the sudden death of his father.
Through it all Tim drew inspiration from the nomadic people of the steppe who offered friendship, wisdom, and extraordinary hospitality. They taught Tim how to have patience, resilience, to make friends with the unfamiliar, and to retain both a sense of humour, curiosity, humility, and humanity in the face of adversity.
For Tim the adventure did not end on the day he stepped off his horses. Impassioned with the belief there are valuable lessons to be learned from adventure and traditional cultures in our modern era, Tim wrote the bestselling book On the Trail Of Genghis Khan, directed an internationally award-winning TV series of the same title, and has since run a successful business leading remote, and culturally immersive expeditions in Mongolia and Siberia. Tim actively fundraises for charities in Mongolia as part of this work. Most recently Tim has written his first book for young adults, Tim & Tigon, which is themed around resilience and friendship. Tim has also begun facilitating business conferences in ‘off the grid’ locations in Australia.
As a speaker, Tim is experienced, masterful, and agile. He has been a Saxton exclusive since 2003. Drawing on his many experiences he weaves a tale of triumph, heartbreak, and deep learning. He is known as a personal, adaptable, and inspiring storyteller who can reframe strategies for leadership, dealing with change, overcoming challenges, focusing on core goals, having resilience, building relationships, and for reminding ourselves to keep our faith in humanity. Tim uses film and imagery to bring his story to life and has excelled in a range of formats from keynotes at educational and business conferences, to on-theme motivational talks, school visits, high-production-value TEDx-style events, and chaired 'conversations.’
Awards & Accolades:
Australian Geographic ‘Australian Adventurer of the Year’ in recognition of his 10,000km, three-year journey on the trail of Genghis Khan.
Grand Prize, Banff International Mountain Book Festival -for On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads (Bloomsbury Publishing).
National Geographic Adventure Awardee. Presented in Washington DC recognizing Tim as ‘Cultural Ambassador who traced the journeys of Genghis Khan.’
Royal Society for Asian Affairs ‘Special Award’ in recognition of ‘exceptionally outstanding and unusual achievement in Asia in any sphere, including service to humanity, contribution to science, the extension of knowledge, innovation, individual ingenuity and resource, personal effort and courage, endurance, fortitude or contribution to culture.’
Nairamdal recipient (Friendship Medal) - issued by the president of Mongolia for work in celebrating and promoting Mongolian nomad culture. Tim was also made ‘honourable international ambassador’ for Mongolian tourism.
Multiple International Film Awards including: Banff Film Festival People’s Choice Award, Vancouver Mountain And Film Festival Grand Prize, Prize of the Jury at Graz International Film Festival (Austria).
Australian Geographic ‘Young Adventurer of the Year’ - awarded for 4,500km rowboat expedition through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean along the Yenisey River.
Australian Geographic ‘Spirit of Adventure’ award - awarded for travelling 10,000km across Russia and Siberia to China on recumbent bicycles.
After studying law for a brief time at ANU in Canberra Tim accepted a scholarship to study in Finland as part of the ‘International Wilderness Guide Course.’ This intensive, year long course schooled Tim in leadership, survival, and traditional knowledge in the Subarctic regions of Russia and Finland.
For Tim this course proved to be the doorway for pursuing his dreams of adventure, writing, and film.
On completion of the wilderness guide course he set out to ride a recumbent bicycle 10,000km across Russia, and Siberia to Beijing. This fourteen-month journey led Tim to make his first film, Off the Rails: On the Back Roads to Beijing for the ABC, and to write his first book Off The Rails: Moscow to Beijing by Bicycle (Penguin Publishing).
Soon after completing his bicycle journey Tim Cope returned to Russia to join a small crew to row a wooden boat 4,500km along the Yenisey River through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. The journey, filmed in part by Tim, became the subject of a National Geographic Channel TV documentary called ‘The Yenisey Expedition.’ Two books authored by co-adventurers Colin Angus and Ben Kozel were also published about this journey.
For Tim, all of these experiences helped to prepare him for his ultimate dream: his 10,000km, three year journey by horse from Mongolia to Hungary. In the wake of this expedition Tim directed and co-produced a popular three hour TV series for ARTE in Europe and the ABC in Australia. He then spent four years researching and writing his book ‘On the Trail of Genghis Khan’ published by Bloomsbury internationally.
This is a young man possessed of extraordinary courage, but also great sensitivity and respect. To anyone who believes that there are no worlds left to be discovered, I offer up the evidence ... keep reading of this magnificent tale. Elizabeth Gilbert - Author of Eat Pray Love
I have had Tim speak at my leadership program a number of times now and he always delivers. He is thoughtful, insightful and also provides some humour. He is very easy to deal with and is always one of the favourite speakers of the year for our program.
A wonderful storyteller, Tim kept the entire crowd enticed. People still talk about his experiences two weeks later.
Tim Cope's program was professional, inspirational, and eye-opening for those in attendance. I have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from students, staff, and faculty. This was a high quality event that proved to be a meaningful investment for our campus.
Refreshing and surprisingly relevant with Tim's 'Learnings and Insights.’ He was like a breath of fresh air, so nice to know that Saxton have all types of speakers, and not just high-powered business professionals.
Tim was absolutely wonderful and was far and away one of the best speakers we have hosted. His talk struck a great balance of being really polished but also delivered in a way that made it seem spontaneous and personal.
This year my senior management team and I have had the pleasure of spending a few inspiring days with Tim. One of our goals was to get away from our daily work environment and spend some time in a remote location without all the noise from our everyday life; no mobiles, internet or TV! Firstly, Tim presented and shared experiences from his truly inspiring story and life and through that we were able to draw comparisons between his adventure challenges and the challenges we all face in our daily working life. Our second day was spent trekking as a group with Tim in the high plains in Victoria. It was a fantastic few days, enjoyed the whole group, and I can fully recommend Tim to any organisation or management group looking for something different. His engaging manner and humble approach is very refreshing.
Tim Cope was an inspiring and genuine speaker. He linked his story and challenges to those faced by our students attending the forum and spoke to their experience. His journey was amazing yet he was honest about his feelings and the obstacles he experienced daily. It came across not as a story of heroism or exceptional skill, but of one person who wanted to achieve a goal and was determined to get there.
Tim was an outstanding presenter. Our audience was a group of graduate teachers embarking on a challenging career and Tim was able to draw on analogies and metaphors during the presentation that related directly to their circumstance. The audience was entranced throughout the presentation and the AV support was engrossing. Key Regional personnel were present and I am confident we will see much more of this outstanding young man in our area in the future.
The feedback we have received regarding Tim's presentation has been extremely positive. Everyone in the audience was totally engaged in his story and my colleagues were very impressed by the way he related this back to teaching. Tim was also very approachable and was happy to talk to people before and after his presentation.
Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School invited Tim Cope to provide a highly-motivating introductory morning for our two-day Student Leadership Committee training program. Tim extensively adapted his multi-media presentation format and created a purpose-built interactive sequence incorporating stimulating group work, structured discussion forums and team building activities. The students were highly interested and fully engaged throughout.