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: 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 Picks: 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: Costa Rica Authentic 9 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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"Costa Rica pretty much invented the phrase “eco-tourism” but we noticed that the destination has lost some of its luster in regards to the principles of innovative sustainable travel. I was very disappointed in a recent visit when I saw little of the Costa Rica I once knew. That motivated me to go back to the drawing board. We created this new Costa Rica journey to take you back in time to the place where the sustainable principles we use today were forged."


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 Picks: Peru 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Adventure Travel

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“When I look at Peru, I see more than just the phenomenal Machu Picchu or Lake Titicaca. Most travelers have the opportunity to see maybe ten percent of Peru’s true nature. There is so more to discover in addition to the Incan Empire and three or four major sites. It’s time to reinvent the way we think about Peru, to change our viewpoint. This journey is about blending history with nature and adventure. It’s about bringing out the active historian in you.”


President’s Picks: 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.”


President’s Pick: Colombia & Guatemala 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“I am a self-admitted history buff, and can’t get enough of it. In much of Latin America, the Incas and Mayans occupied so much of the space, it was difficult to see beyond. I wanted to examine the empires that came before, after, and in between these groups. Enter Colombia, a destination we helped launch in North America almost 10 years ago. Being a pioneer to this area is one my proudest moments. With Guatemala as one of our core products for so long, we were constantly looking for ways to combine Colombia with Guatemala as a way to complete the bridge between the Mayans and early Colombian empires before the Incas came to power. We had access to glamping equipment in Guatemala, which allowed us to offer our guests something more. This allowed them to stay overnight at an ancient site to really feel the Mayan spirit that is imbedded in the ruins, making this a much more compelling experience. I am proud to say Big Five was one off the first combine these two countries, and now I invite you to join us in being a part of history.”


President’s Pick: Chile’s Patagonia & Mapuche Culture 14 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“Everywhere I look when I see itineraries for Chile, I keep seeing the same four or five locations over and over. For quite some time, I felt that something more existed, an experience or interaction that not only showed me something new about Chile, it also met a personal requirement of mine regarding sustainability. Enter the Mapuche communities, one of the oldest indigenous cultures in a country. There is tremendous history in Chile dating back to the Incas and beyond that reaches beyond Chile’s tourist locations that everyone already visits. I am delighted to be able to take our guests off the track to see the real Chile.”


President’s Pick: Argentina Adventures 16 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Adventure Travel

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“I have always had that fire burning in me to search out the most authentic of places. One of the areas that frustrated me the most was Argentina. No matter how hard I looked, all I could find were the same areas in every itinerary. Where had our imagination gone? Was this all Argentina had? We kept pushing for more until we finally uncovered a whole new layer. This program is the first part of that culmination that finally connects Argentina to the ancient cultures of South America through Salta.”