In Colombia, people begin putting up holiday decorations as early as mid-October. Indeed, some homes and businesses leave the lights up year round, dimming them during the off-season. And, as soon as November arrives, lights start popping up everywhere from upscale malls to small houses, in windows, across roofs and in trees. This season offers an excuse for cities and towns to try to top one another with the most spectacular lights displays possible. Of course, that is especially true in major cities like Bogotá, Cartagena and Medellín, which boast massive light spectacles in parks and public spaces.

This year will bring a special element to the celebrations – the recent, new peace pact between Colombia’s government and the FARC rebel group. This agreement, though still controversial among many, has the potential in the long run to bring an end to a 52-year-old conflict. But it won’t happen overnight.

Cited in a recent Wall Street Journal article, William Ury, a Harvard University expert on conflict resolution who has advised Colombia and other countries, said “We’re talking about 2, 5, 10 years, 15 years even. Just looking at other peace processes around the world, these things take time.”

Ashish is currently in Colombia, leading as educational trip that includes an exclusive look at graffiti art. He reports, “We have talked to many people in Bogota about this in the last 48 hours from guides to drivers to graffiti artists. There is a lot of excitement about what this historic agreement will mean for Colombia’s future and its blossoming tourism sector.”

Big Five began offering Colombia about eight years ago, and is today an even bigger, more committed fan of this dynamic country. “The potential is there to project Colombia as a new beacon of stability in Latin America that is trying to peacefully shed the nightmares of its past for a greater future,” adds Ashish.

But you don’t have to wait to experience Colombia. Begin your exploration with the 10-day Colombia’s Gems. Ride a bike through Bogota, dig for your own emerald, savor a private rum tasting in Cartagena, discover Medellin’s barrios, and travel into the heart of Colombia’s coffee growing zone.


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We are pleased that Big Five’s blog was selected as one of the  Top 100 Luxury Travel Blogs by


Relax, it’s over for now. Time to get back to basics and focus on the good stuff – the really good stuff like days spent enjoying the rhythms of the East African bush. Walk the spectacular Kalama mountains of Northern Kenya. Saruni Samburu, a safari camp within the Kalama Community Conservancy, is an ideal spot to discover the charms of the African bush. Take in the landscapes with all your senses. See, feel, touch and smell the earth, trees, bushes and rocks. Meet and walk with Samburu warriors in the wild lands. Learn about their traditions and their lives today. Encounter elephants, Grevy’s zebra, giraffe and a variety of other residents in the conservancy. Savor sunsets, picnics and bush dinners.

The conservancy includes about 54,000 square hectares near the border of the Samburu National Reserve, and has become a welcoming place for both people and wildlife. As part of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), it offers a holistic approach to grassland management that insures a balanced and sustainable ecosystem able to support a healthy mix of cattle, wildlife and communities.

NRT encompasses 33 conservancies that form a patchwork of protected areas that incorporate ocean, mountain, desert, forest and grassland habitats. Each habitat supports a breathtaking range of biodiversity – from the most iconic African mammals to the lesser known birds, reptiles and marine life.

Safari camps such as Saruni Samburu, which Ashish mentioned recently in The New York Times article “How to Have a Culturally Rich Vacation,” offer you an authentic avenue to experience a way of life that has all but vanished from most of the world.

Renew your spirit and calm your soul – the African wilderness can do that. Spend the holidays in the Kenya Highlands.




“You may delay, but time will not.”


So said the ever-wise Benjamin Franklin. Indeed, time is a precarious and precious thing. It can rush past us like a shooting star on its journey home, or race past like a horse to the finish line. I expect to hear holiday music any minute now.

We suspect that like so many of us, you have been on overload with the flurry of activity from work to elections to getting the kids back to school this fall. So you may not have had the time to plan for the holidays.

Indeed, there are roughly 45 days – a mere 3,840,000 seconds – until the real season rush begins. But there is good news… It’s late but it’s not too late.

The chances are good that you can have a fabulous holiday getaway as long as you are somewhat flexible about the destination. While many locales were sold out long ago, there are still some great places to go such as Costa Rica, for example.

Costa Rica is well known and much visited. But whether you have been to Costa Rica or just heard a lot about it, you don’t know our Costa Rica – full of little-known places that offer luxury plus an abundance of active adventures. Our newest President’s Pick: Costa Rica Authentic   features a thrilling ultra-light flight that takes you soaring over breathtaking landscapes and waterfalls as well as whitewater rafting, zip lining, horseback riding and hiking. You can also learn about sustainable growing techniques used on plantations to produce some of the finest coffee available anywhere.

Stay tuned to future blogs and we will share some other last-minute gems.


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