In Global Scavenger Hunt,™ 40 travelers compete in a 23-day around-the-world trip beginning and ending in secret North American destinations. The combined travel adventure competition and international charity event takes place annually from mid-April to mid-May.
"Global Scavenger Hunt is all about allowing real travelers to compete in a real travel adventure competition, for all the right reasons — the love of travel, trusting strangers in strange lands and giving something back to the planet," says event director William Chalmers.
The 20 teams of two have no idea where they're going until they are onboard their flights to at least 10 countries, on four continents.
Teams earn points by completing cultural-oriented scavenges in exotic countries. The Global Scavenger Hunt website includes examples like: For 10 points, competitors find the early morning market in Japan and buy "blue gold," to taste it. (Tsukiji Fish Market, in Tokyo, sells bluefin sushi tuna at dawn.)
For 25 points, in Egypt, a participant rides a camel around one of the Seven Wonders of the World (the Pyramids), wearing a traditional Arab galabyia and a headdress purchased in Khan al-Khalili, Cairo's Grand Bazaar.
Called A Blind Date with the World, the event is a cultural immersion rally rather than a race. Teams test their ability to combat jetlag, language difficulties, cultural differences, unusual foods and logistical problems.
"It is like Survivor, The Amazing Race and the Eco-Challenge all rolled into one, except with much more cultural interaction," says a former contestant. But, unlike TV reality shows, there are no losers or competitor eliminations.
World's Greatest Travelers
The first-place team earns "The World's Greatest Travelers" title. The team raising the most pledges for charity wins the opportunity to compete in the following year's Great Escape competition for free.
Fees aid in fundraising for charities including the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, KIVA, Planeterra Foundation and International Special Olympics.
The Global Scavenger Hunt competition is filmed. Footage is supplied to media outlets like The Travel Channel, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, CTV and the BBC.
Great Escape participants are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Single travelers can ask Global Scavenger Hunt organizers to try to match them with another single traveler to form a team.