The teams take off from Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles. Viewers learn about a couple of interesting twists: those who finish last on non-elimination legs will be penalized and there's a new element in play called the Yield. The Yield allows a team to keep any other team from racing for a set period of time, but it can only be used once during the race. The teams scramble to catch flights, some not realizing that the flight that departs later actually arrives at their destination, Uruguay, first. The teams navigate through a series of clues, catching ferries and carrying meat to finally reach the game's first Detour: Zips or Chips. Jim is injured early, but still manages to make the fast flight. Two teams make a critical mistake and are sent away from the pit stop, but still manage to make it without being eliminated.
The teams head to Montevideo in Uruguay, where they visit a foam discoteque and pop rubber balls to find clues. They all end up in the same ferry and feel the pressure of being bunched together after having been in various positions. They travel to Buenos Aires, where they take part in a Detour, Perro or Tango, in which you have to choose between walking eight dogs for about a mile, or instead first travel about a mile and a half for the Tango. In the Tango, the teams receive a photo and then try to identify one man from a group of people dancing the tango. The Tango turns out to be the better choice, because the dog-walking takes a long time and the dogs are difficult to control. After completing one of those two, the teams participate in a Roadblock in which they have to remove a scarf from a calf. Fortunes change for the teams, as many who were behind end up advancing, while Alison and Donny are eliminated.
The teams travel from the La Portena pit stop to San Carlos de Bariloche by plane. There, after finding the mayor, they participate in a Roadblock that involves finding one of twenty chocolates with white filling from a group of 11,000. Marshall and Lance struggle with the challenge, while Jim and Marsha fall behind after catching a late flight. After completing the Roadblock, the teams head to a scenic mountain for the Detour. Though given a choice between Smooth Sailing (paragliding) and Rough Riding (mountain biking six miles), all teams choose the much faster paragliding option. They then make their way to the pit stop at an unnamed island on Bahia Lopez. Jim and Marsha fight hard to remain in the race, but arrive too late and are eliminated.
The eight teams receive a clue telling them to get from the Pit Stop to the Battleship Aurora—its guns signaled the start of the Russian Revolution. The trip is long, a twenty-hour bus ride, followed by a 8,000 mile flight to Russia. The jockeying and bickering immediately begin at the bus station, but some patient planning pays off for a few teams who take a later bus that makes less stops and then visit a travel agent. Some unfortunate airport luck leaves Bob and Joyce catching a later flight and striving to remain in the race. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the teams get a Detour clue to choose either a hockey challenge: Block Five Shots, or a drinking challenge: drink one shot. The choices are about evenly split and no team has a particularly tough time at the Detour. What many do have a very tough time with is the Roadblock, which involves eating two pounds of caviar. Christie struggles and her and Colin's lead evaporates, along with Brandon and Nicole, when Nicole passes out. Teams such as Chip and Kim and Charla and Mirna are able to power through it and gain ground, but it's not enough for Bob and Joyce, who are eliminated from the race.
The teams start at the Pit Stop, Catherine's Palace, where they're then directed to head to St. Petersburg and find a painting in an art museum: Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son. The teams are then instructed to fly 2,000 miles to Cairo, Egypt. The teams consider their flight options and Colin and Christie score big by doing their research. They score a flight that arrives many hours before the others and Fast Forward into the lead with a task that involves transporting a sarcophagus. They check in to a nice lead at the Great Sphinx. The other teams arrive in Egypt where they take part in a Roadblock: Who's up for going down? They must carry up a bag of artifacts from a deep hole. They then take part in the Detour: Rock and Roll or Hump and Ride. In an odd twist, only Charla and Mirna get the Hump and Ride option because this horse-riding task shuts down at 5:30 P.M. The other teams must haul rocks and Linda and Karen are the last team to check in. They're not eliminated, but are faced with a stiff penalty in the new twist.
The teams continue racing in Egypt, logging more flight time as they head to the Karnak Temple. Colin and Christie find that opening times cause their large lead to evaporate, but they manage to get in some much-needed extra sleep. The teams participate in a Detour Herd It or Haul it. The herding involves traveling five miles and then herding sheep and goats, while the hauling is a three mile trip and then hauling water on a slow donkey. Although only two teams choose the hauling option, it seems to be the faster. The teams then participate in a Roadblock in which one team-member becomes an archaeologist and they search for scarabs. The episode ends in a surprise ending with something that has never before happened on The Amazing Race.
The teams travel from Crocodile Island to Nairobi, Kenya, where anticipation builds at the idea of traveling to a Mystery Location. After high tension at an airport, two teams book what they hope will be a faster flight, but find that a delay places them in the back of the pack. Once in Kenya, the teams take buses to a Detour: Buzzing or Busy. The Buzzing option is potentially faster and involves collecting honey from a hive of bees, while the Busy option involves furniture delivery. All teams opt to stay away from the bees and deliver the furniture. They then make their way to a Roadblock in which the task is to eat scrambled ostrich egg - an amount that's about twenty times that of a single chicken egg. It's a close call, but in the end a team that was a favorite of many is eliminated from The Amazing Race.
The teams get in a cab race for charter flights, and Colin becomes upset when his driver takes him to the airport on a spare tire that ends up going flat. He tries to pay only half of a hundred dollar fare, but ends up paying the entire thing when the driver threatens legal action. Linda and Karen end up on a very late flight, but all teams find that the flight order didn't matter so much when they get to their destination and learn that there's a large break until the opening time of 8 A.M. The teams all travel to the port of Dubai, where they find themselves with a Detour choice of Off-Plane or Off-Road. Teams doing Off-Plane will find themselves sky-diving, while those in Off-Road have to drive off-road vehicles along a marked course. Both could be good options, depending on the various teams strengths and the fact that the planes for Off-Plane only leave every 45 minutes. Brandon and Nicole and Kami and Karli choose the plane option, while Linda and Karen, Colin and Christie, and Chip and Kim go for the vehicles. In an extremely close finish, another team finds themselves stripped of all money in a non-elimination leg.
In this leg of the race, the teams travel from Dubai to Calcutta, India. Linda and Karen find themselves facing the law this time over a cab dispute, but with a far different reason and resolution than that of the Colin and Christie situation in the previous episode. Once in Calcutta, all teams initially take part in a brick-making Roadblock. When it proves an especially rough challenge for one team, they try opting for the Fast Forward, only to balk when they find it invovles shaving their heads. Therefore, all teams participate in the Heavy but Short / Light But Long Detour, all choosing Heavy But Short. After pushing taxicabs with the help of locals for a half-mile, they make their way to the pit stop: Victoria Memorial. The last place team finds themselves giving up hope, but is greeted with a big surprise.
The teams receive a clue telling them to travel over 6,000 miles from Calcutta, India to Auckland, New Zealand. Then, they must drive an additional 220 miles to Rotorua, New Zealand. Flight struggles initially put one team behind, but then confusion over directions moves them into a surprise lead. The teams take part in a Detour: Clean or Dirty. The Clean option involves a scary water rafting trip, while the Dirty option involves searching for a clue in hot mud. Colin and Christie, Linda and Karen, and Chip and Kim choose the Clean option, while Brandon and Nicole and Kami and Karli opt to get dirty. A questionable decision on the part of one racer makes for an intense battle to avoid elimination. The teams complete a Roadblock that involves rolling down a hill inside a Zorb, then walking across a final line. They then check in at the Pit Stop, but it's finally too late for one team and they are eliminated.
The teams take off from the Pit Stop in New Zealand to the Westhaven Marina, where they face a Roadblock that involves scaling heights and then doing a controlled leap into a boat. Afterwards, the teams receive a clue telling them to travel over 5,000 miles to Manila, Philippines. One team lands seats on a flight that they hope will put them far ahead, but finds that flight delays and a missed connection place them together with the rest of the teams. Once in the Philippines, the teams take a part in a task to decorate jeepnees, a remnant of the American World War II presence. One team, though, must wait when they arrive only to find another team has exercised their Yield option on them. Afterwards, the teams do a Detour: Plow or Fowl. All teams choose the Plow option, which involves using an ox to plow for a clue, as opposed to the Fowl, which would have involved herding a thousand geese. All teams find themselves in a high-stakes bus and taxi race to the Coconut Palace Pit Stop, but one receives good news when they learn that although they finished last, they have not been eliminated from the race.
The teams set off from the Coconut Palace in Manila, Philippines, knowing that one team will be eliminated. Intense battles and struggles ensue as the teams make their way to El Nido on two charter flights, then struggle with a challenge that involves finding an island with the flag of the Philippines. The mistake of one team costs them dearly, but in the end, a Roadblock that involves rappelling up a high cliff proves the undoing of another. The remaining teams head into the final leg, which finds them all on a flight to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. There, they all struggle to hike up a long hill and then receive a clue telling them to head to Olympic Park. There, they face a detour: Slide or Ride, in which they must either complete a luge course in 34 seconds, or complete a challenging biking course in three minutes. One team attempts and fails the bike course, but all teams eventually end up completing the luge. The teams then make their way to the final destination of Dallas, Texas.