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Travel Plans

The Team's itinerary in each site, and between sites, is very strategically planned to both bring to life important topics from around the world. They tie in with National History Standards for the US, explore critical global issues, and integrate themselves into the local communities by performing service work with them. The team divides these responsibilities so that some are moving around a lot and others live and work with a community-based organization the whole time.

Eleven Cities (Major Non-Western Cultural Centers)

The eleven cities for the Odyssey World Trek were chosen first because each has been a significant cultural center at some time in history. Many cities jumped right out at us, and we narrowed down the list by considering each city's current importance in the world. In the end, we decided on the following eleven cities, listed from left to right in the order they will be visited.

Mexico City, Mexico       Antigua, Guatemala       Cuzco, Peru
Harare, Zimbabwe       Bamako, Mali       Cairo, Egypt       Jerusalem, Israel
Istanbul, Turkey       Tehran, Iran       New Delhi, India       Xi'an, China

There is, however, a high degree of flexibility regarding where the team members actually spend their time in-country. Some of the major objectives of The Odyssey -- such as avoiding areas of major western influence and performing service work where it can be most effective -- will best be fulfilled in areas away from the eleven destination cities. In such cases, team members might spend their time somewhere else within the same country.


January 15 Departure from San Francisco, United States
Jan 15-
Feb 3
Travel to Antigua, Guatemala
March 6
Guatemala stay
March 7-
April 3
Travel to Cuzco, Peru
April 7-
May 29
Peru stay
May 30-
June 9
Travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina
June 10-
June 23
Travel to Harare, Zimbabwe
June 24-
July 31
Zimbabwe stay
August 1-
August 8
Travel to Bamako, Mali
August 8-
September 23
Mali stay
September 24-
October 28
Travel to Cairo, Egypt
October 29-
December 10
Egypt stay
December 11-13 Travel to Jerusalem, Israel
December 14-
January 29
Israel stay
January 30-
February 5
Travel to Istanbul, Turkey
February 6-
March 17
Turkey stay
March 18-
March 20
Travel to Tehran, Iran
March 25-
April 28
Iran stay
April 29-
June 14
India stay
June 10-
June 20
Travel to Xi'an, China
August 5
China stay
August 5-
September 1
Travel through SE Asia, to finish in San Francisco, United States

Travel in Groups of Two or Three

Traveling in a large group of people would be unnecessarily cumbersome and would hinder the trekkers' ability to interact with the people they meet along the way. It could also potentially have a greater negative impact on local cultures. Therefore, the team will travel in groups of twos and threes, each group making its own way from one city to the next. The trekkers will be reunited in the destination cities and form new groups to mix things up and maintain positive group dynamics.

Culturally, Environmentally, and Socially Responsible Travel

In the spirit of respect and unity on which The Odyssey was founded, team members will make all decisions with an eye to being as culturally, environmentally, and socially responsible as possible. Such an approach will include the following:

  • Out of respect for local cultures, team members will follow local customs, including eating local food, conforming to expectations for dress, and attempting to learn at least some of the local language.
  • Team members will conduct themselves at all times with a sensitivity to the local and global environment.
  • Team members will see that as much of the team expenditures as possible go into local hands by staying at locally-owned places, eating at locally-owned restaurants, buying locally-produced goods, and hiring local services
  • Decisions about routes will involve considerations of the local political situation, not only regarding the trekkers' safety, but also regarding whether such travel, and paying necessary fees, etc., will support a political regime that is under boycott for its repressive or dictatorial nature.

Limited Air Travel, No Set Route, Limited High Speed Travel, and Off the Beaten Path

Part of the great adventure of The Odyssey World Trek derives from the fact that the trekkers will navigate the globe without a set route and with limted use of air travel - to get from Argentina to South Africa, and from Zimbabwe to Ghana. Students will get to share in the excitement of shaping the routes the teams choose -- in terms of where they go and how they go -- and of facing the challenges the teams meet along the way.

One of the Team Members, when recently asked to list some of the different methods of travel used, came up with the following:
"land, air, sea, hitchhiking, walking, rafting, two-seater planes (with Kevin in the cargo hold), horseback riding, dancing, buses, jeeps, non-vegetarian boats, elephants, Argentinian taxis that actually go faster than planes... shall I continue?"

As the team members travel slowly overland and avoid areas highly influenced by western culture, they will seek a greater knowledge of the rich diversity of cultures and peoples in the world. This approach will give students a perspective of the world they usually do not see. It will enhance the students' understanding of and respect for the planet as a whole and, since local perspectives are often shaped by geography, help students better understand the perspectives of the people who inhabit the areas through which the teams travel.

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