I am used to spending way too much money on vacation, so the thought of competing to win money while having fun in Israel intrigued me enough to contact the trip’s founder.
I interviewed Ari Charlestein, the self described, trip leader/genius/madman of Etgar. Charlestein is an avid traveler who has been getting on and off planes his entire life. Charlestein, who has been to Israel about 3 dozen times, makes his living as an expert who plays the airline mileage game and is also an exclusive travel partner of some of the world’s busiest executives, business owners and travelers.
So what is Etgar all about?
Etgar is a unique and fun filled vacation that gives you a hands-on way to see Israel and is an unofficial extension of Competitours which holds a similar tour in Europe. Instead of having a boring tour guide, you get a challenge and that is why the name ‘Etgar‘ meaning ‘Challenge’, is very fitting. You will enjoy a mystery itinerary, camaraderie of new friends, explore interesting locations, immerse yourself in the culture, and the fun of competition! This is what I call “sight-doing, not sight-seeing.” So there will be no boring tour guides, no endless sitting at the hotel pool and no cliche tourist “hot spots”. You will get to be a part of the Israeli culture, action and experience!
How do the teams work?
Teams will participate in a series if challenges but not necessarily at the same time. All teams wake up and eat breakfast in the same hotel and ground transportation from activity to activity and back to the hotel is all covered by Etgar. All teams need to compete are creative minds and not fitness or travel experience. 12 teams of 2 people each will compete to accomplish daily surprise challenges while on the 11-day mystery itinerary of Israel with a $6000 cash prize to be divided up by the top three teams.
It will be similar to TV’s ‘The Amazing’ Race‘, but for regular people. No exhausting tasks or superhuman strength will be required. This is more about brains over brawn. This is not about speed or fitness, so a 65 year old will be able to compete with an 18 year old and we level the playing field to make it a fun challenge for all.
So Tell us About the Challenges
The challenges are based on a mix of subjective and objective criteria and is most cases, all teams will be in the running for the three top spots until the very last day, for maximum suspense. Unlike TV’s ‘Amazing Race,’ there are no eliminations and with our dynamic scoring system, we ensure that all teams remain in contention and competitive throughout the trip. The challenges are also representative of Israel the country, for example one challenge will be about Israel’s food while another will be about Israel’s military which will be taught by ex-IDF special forces. Other challenges will let your explore Israel’s cultural roots as well as Israel’s standing in the world as technological innovators and we will be learning and exploring that in cool new challenging ways.
Can teams do their own travelling?
Yes, the trip will structured to ensure that there will be enough downtime to explore sights and do some shopping on your own time or choose your own dining preference on some evenings. While we will have about 12 hours of guided tours, most of the learning about Israel comes through naturally as you do the challenges. We will also have some downtime on some days more than others as well as on Shabbat, where there will be an optional walking tour of Jerusalem.
Win or lose, Etgar’s leader/genius/puppet-master, Ari Charlestein, says he is committed to ensuring that every day is full of fun twists and turns. When you least expect it, expect the unexpected!