In 1973 in Nairobi, Kenya, Mahen Sanghrajka founded Big Five Tours & Expeditions on the basic principle of providing travelers with distinctive and rewarding travel adventures while at the same time contributing positively to the land, the wildlife and the people of Africa.  Since then, the company has relocated its corporate headquarters to Stuart, Florida, and expanded its offerings to more than 50 destinations in Africa, Central and South America, Asia, the Orient and the South Pacific.  Yet, that early guiding principle remains a strong focal point for the company, and as Big Five has grown, so too has its sense of community.

The formal launch of Spirit of Big Five Foundation in 2007 was the next logical step in Big Five’s desire to grow and expand our commitment to supporting the people and places that we visit. Costas Christ, one of the world’s foremost sustainable tourism experts, serves as our Ambassador for the Spirit of Big Five Foundation.  An award-winning writer and editor with National Geographic Traveler and Global Strategist for Sustainability for the Virtuoso Travel Network, Costas’ work has taken him to more than 130 countries across six continents. He was honored together with conservation icon, Dr. Jane Goodall, CNN Founder Ted Turner and Ocean Explorer Dr. Sylvia Earle, as a Global Visionary working to save the planet.

Costas works closely with Mahen, chairman of the foundation, to identify and select projects consistent with the core principles of sustainable tourism that are at the heart of Big Five’s philosophy of travel.

Foundation funding for projects operates in two ways – it donates to charitable organizations, including humanitarian assistance entities during natural disasters, as well as dispersing small project grants to grassroots non-profit organizations that meet its funding criteria.

Goals of the Foundation

Primary goals of the Spirit of Big Five Foundation are:

  • Environmentally friendly practices consistent with principles and best practices of sustainable tourism
  • Conservation and protection of biodiversity, wildlife and natural habitats
  • Support for poverty alleviation and community development, including capacity building, education, and healthcare in tourism destinations
  • Support for cultural heritage, archeological and historical preservation in and around tourism destinations
  • Promotion of and support for cross-cultural understanding and peace