President’s Picks

As you might imagine, I log a lot miles on the road and in the air every year. People always ask me about my favorite places. Here is the answer. In my travels, I am always on the lookout for what’s new, innovative, and cutting-edge. Yet, I am consistently surprised when I run up against the ordinary in the travel industry.  And, that is too often the case… the same old stuff – the same sights, the same activities and the same routings.  I found this in Australia, China and Chile, just to name a few.  At times, there seems to be little difference between private tours and the masses of buses in that they are all headed to exactly the same places.

Indeed, probably 95% of travelers are still being funneled into the same molds, whether they are private clients or mass market. At Big Five, we have deliberately chosen to look after the 5% who share our philosophy, where the most valued asset has nothing to do with price.  Of course, there are classic sights that will nearly always be included. After all, who would go to Egypt the first time and not visit the great pyramids of Giza? But there can still be distinctiveness and originality in how they are seen. That is our intellectual property, where creativity, originality and outside-the-box thinking are the rule and not the exception. This is ingrained in our entire Big Five team, which means that we look deeper and farther afield to give you something more.  Our aim is to present you with journeys that are worth taking!

With President’s Pick, I wanted to take that a step further, to share adventures that I am personally passionate about, tours that have touched me in some way and where I have seen a serious need to not merely think outside the box, but to destroy the box. I have never been one to follow, and I always aim to make a positive difference in every one of our destinations.  Please enjoy my personal picks, and let us help you plan yours.

Sincerely,

ash 1 copy

 

 

 

 

Ashish Sanghrajka


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President’s Picks Tours

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President’s Picks: Cambodia’s Unique Treasures 17 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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“When you mention Cambodia, what is the first thing you almost always hear? Angkor Wat! What if you heard something different? That is what this program is about – a different Cambodia. My first visit to Cambodia was as a college student with my family. I left curious, curious about what more there was. I am always looking at the possibilities of place. Travelers too often overlook Cambodia as stand-alone itinerary. This journey is proof that Cambodia can, indeed, stand on its own two legs as a unique and fascinating destination. I am proud to present you with this vision all these years later.”


President’s Pick: Northern Peru Warriors of the Clouds 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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"Most countries feel lucky to have an iconic sight or two. Peru is one of the few locations with so many that it transcends empires. This journey is about getting past the Incas and seeing the ancient empires of Peru that shaped the future. This journey is about changing how you see Peru through new concepts and access to new areas."


President’s Pick: Adventure Guatemala & Panama 19 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“The prefix “UN” connotes the opposite or the undoing of something. That is exactly what this journey is about. When I look at how travel in Central America is offered; frankly, I get bored! The same hotels, the same locations, the same activities consistently show up. What is missing is a sense of imagination and creativity. You should expect more – to see more, to feel more, to do more than the ordinary. This journey allows you to engage with the indigenous tribes of Panama, explore rural Guatemala by glamping in a remote luxury Airstream trailer, and discover the region’s rich ecosystems during hikes and rafting adventures. I promise you will not be bored.”


Presidents Pick: Bolivia & Argentina Highland Adventure 14 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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“I have always been fascinated with Bolivia, and for the longest time, kept trying to figure out just how to integrate it into the perfect Latin America itinerary without settling for the over-visited tourist islands on Lake Titicaca. We found the solution in Salta. This is the ideal access road into Bolivia that presents the perfect logistical order to manage these highland altitudes. At the same time, you explore the famous Inca culture in Bolivia as well as the lesser known Aymara culture of Argentina. This is the Latin America of tomorrow, where conventional itineraries and thinking are dispelled.”


President’s Pick: Tanzania & Kenya 17 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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“Over the last decade, the resistance to poaching and the need to preserve indigenous cultures became so strong that the notion of community-based conservancies was born. It was pioneered in countries like Namibia and parts of Kenya. That same idea spread like wildfire into Tanzania and now even further into northern Kenya, where the commitment to the conservancy model of safaris is now thriving. The experience is now more hands on than ever before, from tracking rhino on foot in Kenya's Northern Rangelands Trust to staying in a conservancy just outside Tarangire National Park. Private conservancies offer some of the best solutions for both traditional cultures and the wildlife that they live among.”


President’s Pick: Crystal Canyons of Colombia 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Adventure Travel

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“Being one of the first companies to operate in Colombia has its challenges. It also has its benefits – chiefly, you are able to get the unique, quality experience down to a science, and your journeys are at the cutting edge. This latest adventure is one of my favorites. It exposes you to areas that just a decade ago were thought to be inaccessible. This journey will bring out your inner Indiana Jones. Explore, and get drawn in the way I have been for the last ten years.”


President’s Pick: Australia Unbound 32 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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"I am always amazed at how much of Australia is still undiscovered. When you look at where the largest cluster of hotels are, it represents less than half the territory. This itinerary is designed to remove you from those clusters, taking you to the frontiers where mass settlement has not yet happened. This is the real outback. Don’t go down under, go walk about."


President’s Pick: Zimbabwe’s Wild Landscapes 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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“Like the rising sun, Zimbabwe is re-emerging as the safari destination for the ultimate bucket list. Its rich wildlife areas and incredible landscapes are irresistible. Like many other African countries, Zimbabwe has its share of economic problems, yet tourism married with conservation is proving to be the central solution that will help this country continue to emerge."


President’s Pick: Southern India’s Vijaynagar Empire 14 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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"I have always been fascinated with the southern part of India, especially the heritage that dates back to the 6th and 7th century. When I use the phrase ‘the space between’, I am often talking about India and about the locations in this itinerary. They represent India beyond the Maharajas, they represent a different segment of Hinduism and Buddhism. This region of India also represents the best example of sustainable tourism, offering you a window into what India could become."


President’s Pick: Natural Nicaragua 10 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“Nicaragua has only recently come on the radar as an emerging destination for its wealth of nature-based activities. I am an avid outdoor enthusiast so hiking forests, swimming, kayaking, ash boarding and paragliding are all activities that I and my family enjoy. Add to this culturally and historically vibrant cities such as Leon and Granada, and the thriving coffee plantations, and Nicaragua is a fun and rewarding destination.”


President’s Pick: Ecuador’s Galapagos & Amazon 15 Days President’s Picks Interest(s):

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"The Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Jungle have never been more endangered. This luxury program was designed to illustrate that tourism done the right way can help preserve the Galapagos as well as the Amazon, by employing the right local guides, and using the right sustainable properties. This is about seeing the real Ecuador, the one that the large cruise lines and the majority of tourists overlook. Step back in time and see this amazing country the way it was meant to be seen."


President’s Pick: Botswana & South Africa 14 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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"Botswana is truly the last frontier, a pristine safari destination, with a mission to protect the pinnacle of sustainable tourism. This adventure goes beyond conventional safaris, introducing state-of-the-art facial recognition software as the means of identifying and tracking animals. This extraordinary Botswana safari takes place in and around the filming locations used by National Geographic’s Dereck and Beverly Joubert. You end your journey in South Africa's Winelands and with a photographic workshop in Cape Town."


President’s Pick: Incredible Indochina 29 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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“I first visited Indochina with my family in 1998, and remembered thinking how much potential this region had if the infrastructure could just be improved. Fast forward to today and the conversation has changed completely to ‘how do we keep these areas authentic?’ This itinerary answers that question. Noted chef and author Daniel Hoyer introduces you to Hanoi's street foods, and you will visit the studio of celebrated artist Helene Kling in Ho Chi Minh City, who has lived in Vietnam since 1996. You even spend a night on a floating luxury hotel on the famous River Kwai. From world-class accommodations to sailing the Mekong River, this exceptional journey takes you to the cutting edge.”