What do you get if you take one part Cambodia, one part tuk tuk and two parts adrenaline-fuelled adventure?
You get The Cambo Challenge. That's what.
Brainchild of travel company Large Minority, The Cambo Challenge takes travellers on a truly unique journey through Cambodia.
They acheive this by offering travellers the opportunity to drive their own tuk tuks around the country over a number of days. That's no small feat, and one big adventure.
Colombian-born Juan Parades, co-founder of Large Minority, gave us some of his time to further explain how this epic southeast Asian roadtrip works.
In a nutshell, what is the Cambo challenge?
The Cambo Challenge is the ultimate road-trip and the best way to explore Cambodia. Nothing beats riding behind the wheel of a Japanese-powered, Cambodian-designed tuk tuk. It involves lots of adventure, adrenaline and endurance, combined with resourcefulness and just the right amount of navigational stupidity.
Challengers compete in teams of two or three and must complete various challenges everyday in order to score points and ultimately win the challenge. All of this whilst raising funds for charitable causes and visiting social projects along the way.
What gave you the inspiration to start a tuk tuk rally in Cambodia?
When we first visited Cambodia we were amazed by the Angkor Wat complex, Siem Reap and Phonm Penh. But we felt like the rest of the country was pretty much overlooked by most people. So we decided to hit the road and explore. We soon discovered amazing local secrets, incredible people and truly unique spots. And naturally, we decided it was best to share this with others. Inspired by the success of the first edition of the Lanka Challenge in 2009, we decided to continue our legacy and soon after launched the Cambo Challenge.
What are the logistics - how many teams, how many miles, how much is entry?
The Cambo Challenge will take place from 12-20 November 2016, with prices from $4900 to $6500 USD per team of two or three. The cost of the adventure trip includes all accommodation (a mixture of camping, boutique hotels and homestays), tuk tuk hire, most food and all logistics.
We are expecting 20 teams of 2 or 3 challengers, doing approx. 620 miles over 9 days!
Can you talk a bit about the challenge aspect of the trips?
Our trips will challenge you physically and mentally. During the days, you’ll be set checkpoints to reach and challenges to complete, and it’s up to you and your teammates to come up with the best way to get them done. Most challenges are cultural ice-breakers aimed to create authentic local interaction an immerse you in the local culture. Other challenges are physical or endurance based.
Do you think seeing Cambodia via tuk tuk is the best way to see Cambodia?
Yes, absolutely. Travelling by tuk tuk is the most liberating, adventurous and unique way to explore a new country! It's liberating as you’re not confined by doors and windows, and gives you the freedom to choose where to stop. More frequent stops means more local interaction and usually more travel stories to share. Driving a tuk-tuk is challenging and tiresome: it definitively requires perseverance and endurance but at the end of the day it's very rewarding.
Locals love seeing you driving their tuk tuks, and nothing beats cruising around the country in the vehicle of the people. That's the best way to truly connect!
How difficult are these trips to organise?
It's always challenging to organise an event, especially in a foreign country, but through the years we've been able to setup a solid operation with incredible local people. Every challenge is different because participants are always different and we tend to tweak the route every year. That's what keeps it fresh and interesting.
What do you think the Cambo challenge gives travellers that they don’t get on other trips, or couldn’t get on their own?
We offer adventure challenges where people from all walks of life, can come together and discover amazing destinations with likeminded travellers on bizarre modes of transport. These genuine local, and social experiences which would be almost impossible to replicate on your own. Plus we put in the hard graft and organise everything for our travellers.
Besides this, we bring to the table extensive first-hand local knowledge and let you in to Cambodia's best kept secrets. We are all about making impossible adventures, possible.
Have you had any disasters on a trip before?
Driving these machines through unknown territory is definitely challenging and sometimes dangerous, so accidents do happen, but we wouldn't call them disasters as such. Plus we are always one phone call away!
What’s your favourite thing about Cambodia?
The people. Most folks would say the amazing temples, but for us it's all about the people.
A lot of travellers would look at a trip like this and think: “Hmmmm. That looks pretty risky.” What would you say to put their minds at ease?
There's no doubt that this is a serious challenge, a challenge that should not be underestimated. We have a support crew, team of mechanics and an ambulance with a medical team throughout the Challenge. To put your mind at ease, just know that since we started our adventure challenges in 2009 everyone has always made it back in one piece!