Team-bonding holiday .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - One of the most attractive tourism spots of the country, Cappadocia now becomes the target for many foreign companies looking to engage in team-bonding activities. The region is a great platform for treasure hunting.

Cappadoccia, a region in central Anatolia famous for its odd and beautiful rock formations, called fairy chimneys, has become the preferred spot for many foreign companies looking to engage in team-bonding activities.

"Treasure hunt," a game in which participants discover the region with the help of clues and overcome various physical and mental challenges along the way, has attracted the attention of many foreign companies looking to foster teamwork among their personnel. The game plays out to a pre-written scenario, prepared according to the client's theme, philosophy and style.

Experienced guides at work
It was Middle Earth Tours, a seven-year-old company, owned by experienced guides determined to make a living off their passion for trekking, that came up with the idea. Kerem Karaerkek, the chief guide in charge of the treasure hunt tours, said that so far they have only worked with foreign companies, mostly Russian and German.

"As we are based here in Cappadoccia, we do not really have contact with Turkish companies based in Istanbul," Karaerkek said. "But we do have connections in some tourism agencies abroad and we also have a Web site in English, which is where we get the majority of our business."

The operations manager of Middle Earth Tours, Atıl Cüce, said they have the flexibility to design custom tours. "We can design tours to emphasize teamwork or a competitive environment, depending on the request," he added. "You can either race against time, or another team, or you can try to cooperate with team members to overcome challenges using team spirit."

However, the tour manager added that the games are not preferred particularly by companies.

"Although most of the demand for treasure hunt tours comes from companies, sometimes groups of friends looking for an adventure also contact us to arrange a tour," he said.

More treasure hunting locations on the way
So far, the company has only organized treasure hunts in Cappadocia, although they arrange other kinds of tours in many different locations, including the Kaçkar Mountains, St. Paul Trail and the Lykian Way.

"The treasure hunt requires an outstanding knowledge of the terrain on which the game is played, so we have stuck to Cappadoccia up until now.

But later this year, we are planning to have a treasure hunt in the Lykian Way, between Fethiye and Patarya," Karaerkek said.

The company organizes almost every kind of cultural tour desired by their customers.

"Some groups come over and over again and do different tours," Cüce stated. "We have a group from the Netherlands that has done six different tours over seven years."

But Cüce recalls that the most interesting group were from the United States.

"Perhaps our most interesting customers are a couple from the United States who are both in their 80s and did the Lykian tour last February. They came for rafting in 1974 and swore to never have a conventional holiday again," said Cüce. "They kept their promise."