What if we asked Big Five’s CEO and CFO (aka Ashish’s parents, aka The Founders) if we could change our name to Big Six Tours? After all, we are often asked why we still call ourselves Big Five since we do so much more than just Africa.

It will come as no surprise that they responded with a resounding “no.” Especially, they pointed out, since the company has been doing just fine for 45 years as Big Five Tours & Expeditions.

Okay. We get it – some things just shouldn’t change. But where you want to travel is not one of them. It is our job to make sure we keep track of the changing expectations of our travelers, and alert them to upcoming trends in travel.

So what destinations are trending with our travelers? We see six standouts that they are intrigued with – Nicaragua, Northern Peru, Uganda, Ethiopia, Chile and Colombia. Each of these countries offers our senses new opportunities to experience the world in all its radiant uniqueness.

But why these destinations? Look beyond. Our guests are adopting our attitude of “What box?” They do not want to be prodded into the predictable. They want to stretch their boundaries, and try something new. In Nicaragua, they can climb the youngest and one of the most active volcanos in Central America and swoop down its slopes on an ash board; and spend time at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge on a hidden bay where snorkeling, diving, sailing and whale watching happen year round.

In Peru, they look north beyond fabled Machu Picchu to ancient Peru and the Tombs of Revash high in the hills of a cloud forest on the edge of a limestone cliff. And they engage with untouched communities as well as enjoying exclusive activities such as the behind-the-scenes access at Leymebamba Museum in laboratories where bio-archaeologists are preserving and cataloging the Laguna de los Cóndores artifacts.

Uganda, of course, is home to the legendary mountain gorilla. Only a handful of people on this planet will ever see this magnificent and intelligent animal in its natural environment. Those who do report that the sometimes-arduous trek to spend just a moment in the company of a family of gorillas is a unique and, in some instances, life-changing experience.

Ethiopia beckons the adventure traveler, and is only now beginning to take its place again on the international scene with places such as Axum, renowned for its cathedral of St. Mary Zion, where legend has it, the original Ark of Covenant is housed; several standing monolithic stelae; and the ruins of Queen of Sheba’s palace.

Beyond the great Atacama Desert, Chile presents an array of other options well off the tourist beat such as the fascinating region in Northern Chile with its isolated villages set amid striking mountain landscapes; horseback expeditions to the roof of the Andes; ancient petroglyphs, some dating back 4,000 years, make this an intriguing exploration; and the caves of Pichasca, a ceremonial site reported to have some of the oldest traces of human settlement in this region.

We have been fans of Colombia for some time now. This year, it promises to be even more exciting as we delve deeper into this small but dynamic nation to discover places such as San Juan of Pasto, called the “Surprise City of Colombia.” Known in Colombia for its impressive religious architecture and for Pasto’s Carnival, with traditional parades commemorating the arrival of the Castañeda family, a colorful cast of characters who arrived in 1929. Although their destination was unknown, the family is portrayed as outlandish characters who travel with all their luggage and kitchen utensils to prepare food anywhere along the way. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tierradentro Archaeological Park, travelers enter an incredible subterranean world of galleries and tombs that are called “hypogeum.”

We may not change our name, but our urge to change, explore and learn continues to evolve. And those who are lucky to be endowed with that ‘gypsy spirit’ will always look to the next horizon and the one after.

Learn about sustainable and responsible travel.


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Apparently, the Whitsunday Islands, a collection of continental islands off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, should have been named the WhitMondays.

In 1770, English explorer Captain James Cook sailed through a passage he named “Whitsunday’s Passage”, which he did in honor of Whit Sunday, a Pentecost holy day in the Christian tradition. Based on his journal date, Cook believed that the passage was discovered on Sunday of the feast of Whitsun. As the International Date Line had not yet been established, the day of discovery was, it turned out, actually Whit Monday.

Regardless of the day, Cook sailed his ship, the H.M. Endeavour, into one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in Australia. Cook wrote: “The whole passage is one Continued safe Harbour, besides a Number of small Bays and Coves on each side.” He noted that the land “looked green and pleasant.

Some 560 miles north of Brisbane, this group of 74 islands sheltered behind the Great Barrier Reef were originally inhabited by the Ngaro people and the Gia people (from the Birri Gubba language group). The Ngaro are among the earliest recorded groups in Australia. Often called the ‘Island People,’ their territory expanded north – south along the island chain. They also inhabited the coast of the adjacent mainland. In their occupation as maritime hunters and gatherers, the Ngaro became well known as skilled navigators.

During the mid-1800s, the Whitsunday Group first attracted the attention of the pioneers on the mainland coast, and soon grazing leases were granted. It was not until the 1920s that some began to see the islands as a place to attract visitors. Early ‘dreamers’ built galvanized iron huts for guests. Cruise ship passengers rowed ashore for tropical fruits, tea and scones. The first day trippers from the mainland arrived on the island aboard the weekly mail boat.

Today, the most notable islands in the main Whitsunday group are Dent, Hamilton, Hayman, Hook and Whitsunday. This playground offers a vast menu of opportunities for adventure and exploration as well as relaxation. You are free to explore the islands, their history and historic settlements as well as a staggering marine ecosystem.

Discover our newest President’s Pick that offers this and so much more – New Zealand and Australia: Land, Sea, Sky.


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Don’t Let Procrastination Delay Your Tours

Time is a subtle thief.  Even, when we love something, time often slips in the door, and before we realize it, the deadline is here…. or worse, passed.  That is especially painful when the thing we’ve missed is something we love to do, like vacations.

New places and people, exciting things to do and new sights to see. Why then do we habitually put off making decisions about our next adventure?  We are busy, period.

Nearly a half century since computers began to infiltrate our lives, and, in spite of stunning technological advances, we are busier and more harassed than ever. Work is decidedly more efficient, but we remain overwhelmed. Time is the new luxury.

What’s the remedy?

Find the experts who can take over the things you simply do not have the time to do. We can help.

Since the holidays, we created a complete Chile adventure on 24-hour notice; set up a Colombia tour for a client that included a myriad of details including reassigning guides in just 48 hours; set up a safari in Tanzania for clients that  decided to go just two weeks prior while on a holiday break; and managed to snag the last state room for a journey on the Irrawaddy River along with some of the last rooms in the city hotels with three weeks notice, and assign one of our top guides in Myammar.

Pulling off the nearly impossible in record time is what we do so well so often. If time has snuck up on you that doesn’t mean it is too late. Check out the Top Five Destinations we are helping procrastinators travel to today. Then call us… tomorrow.

It’s ok. You can admit it if you are a procrastinator.


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