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.


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Ashish Sanghrajka


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President’s Picks Tours

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President’s Picks: Ecuador & Colombia Exploration 22 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“About a decade ago, we saw clearly that there was so much more to Ecuador than the fabled islands. In Colombia, the challenge was to get people to look beyond its troubled past. Fast forward to today, and see how this journey is the culmination of the vision we had. This in-depth adventure moves through the heart of the pre-Incan empires of these two remarkable countries.”

President’s Pick: New Zealand & Australia Land, Sea, Sky 21 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“Every time I see the creative programs our team comes up with, I ask, ‘What does a cookie cutter even look like?’ That includes this one featuring one of my favorite parts of Australia, the Whitsundays along with some of the prettiest parts of New Zealand including the top golf courses on both islands. This is the Australia and New Zealand that reaches past the rock, the reef and commercialism.”

President’s Pick: Sri Lanka A Natural Adventure 12 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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Sri Lanka is re-emerging on the world stage as a destination. On this adventure, you explore Sri Lanka's natural and cultural history that rediscovers areas of the islands such as Jaffna that have been seldom visited for decades. Savor home-cooked meals in private homes, tour Jaffna by bicycle, look for leopards in Wilpattu National Park, and climb the fabled rock fortress of Sigiriya, Discover the culture, religious traditions, history, nature and the welcoming people of Sri Lanka.

President’s Pick: Historic Routes of Ethiopia 10 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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“After leaving Kenya, my family and I spent a bit of time in Ethiopia on our way to the US. As a child in Kenya, one of my closest childhood friends was from Addis as well, so my desire to see Big Five in Ethiopia has been there for many years. And now, I am confident that the guide infrastructure is ready as well. Welcome to an amazing country!”

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: 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.”

President’s Pick: Peru Andes Adventure by Train 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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"This journey combines three distinctive train trips with classic Peruvian sights. See the stunning Incan sites from Machu Picchu to Puno. Encounter Awamaki, a woman's textile cooperative and interact with these artisan weavers. Discover the Sumbay Caves, with paintings dating back 6,000 to 8,000 years. Go paddle boarding on Lake Huaypo, and hike to Inti Punku, the “Sun Gate” at Machu Picchu. This is a memorable Peruvian adventure."

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: 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: 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."