Dear Advisor Partners,
As fellow advisors and guests return from memorable journeys, we are happy to share their trip reports and short video productions of their experience, that we proudly produced in-house. After all, there is only so much Netflix and home projects one can take during a lockdown.
Recent intrepid advisors, Sandy Staples, Michelle Orr, Sarah Elizabeth Johnson, and Charlotte French, just returned from Egypt. Now, I was supposed to go, however, an expiring passport (yes, even professional travelers can goof up now and then), so a much cooler alter ago, Flat Ash, went instead!
As always, we love sharing trip reports. This time, you can choose from two amazing blogs – or read them both.
And if you see Flat Ash, can you ask him to give me back my passport?
Enjoy the video!
Lesley Paull of Paull Travel recently traveled with Big Five to Tanzania and she provided this written report.
I just returned from an amazing trip to Tanzania with Big Five. Everything was perfect. I have fallen in love with Tanzania. I wanted to offer information for travelers. If they are travelling via Amsterdam, everything is easy with no gate changes, so you change gates the same as you always have.
Upon arrival in Kilimanjaro International Airport, JRO, per the new regulations in Tanzania, we were not required to show a document for a Covid-19 test, or anything that shows you have medical coverage. You need your passport and a visa, that’s it! I strongly suggest that you get your visa in advance online. It saves valuable time.
The VIP arrival process is even better than it used to be. We were met and escorted to a special area, where they offered us food and water/juice while my documents were checked. We did not have luggage, so with checked luggage it would have taken longer. But as it was, the process took maybe 20 minutes and was just what one needs after a long flight. Note that on the return through Amsterdam you do need to go through a COVID security desk, but that is simple and fast. You just answer the usual questions – that’s it. It was very easy.
The next day, I was so glad that we were able to make it to the Ereto Primary school Big Five is helping build. It can be hard to reach because the road is often impassable, which does make for an “adventurous drive.“ But it was so worth it!
I think the project is amazing, providing a school for 200 kids! Education is so important to the future for these children. To see all those beautiful kids singing for us did bring a tear to my eye, that’s for sure.
The trip to Lake Manyara and on to Ngorongoro Crater was awesome, and Erik, our Big Five guide was very knowledgeable and a lot of fun! Our stay at Gibbs Farm, a very beautiful and interesting stop, allowed us to see a working farm and how they are providing work for the community as well as a beautiful camp and safari experience.
Our next stop was Taasa Lodge and it was a dream. This is an incredible tented camp with on the edge of the Serengeti, and has off road safaris and night game drives… We loved it. The staff was over the top, and the half day trip to the Masai Village was a real eye opener and incredibly interesting.
Our last stop was Lemala Mpingo Ridge in Tarangire National Park, another totally different environment. We also loved this tented camp – and all those beautiful people, great food, wonderful service and, again, incredible safaris, where we saw lots of elephants!
As you can imagine, the camps are hurting as well as we all are, but they welcomed us with open arms and were SO, SO glad to see us. It gave us time to spend time with everyone and to get to understand their lives and their dreams. Tanzania captured my heart, and it’s amplified with COVID and how they are all suffering yet always still smiling. The people never complain, in fact I may have adopted a few along the way!
Our departure process was seamless. This was the perfect time to travel to Tanzania. I felt that I had been let out of jail!
I will encourage everyone to go now. This video will give you an idea of the great safari experience waiting for you. Thank you – it was over the top. The fantastic service from Big Five, the people, the smiles and the safaris, it was simply magical. It is inspiring.
Note: A special thank you goes to Lesley and Peter, they have become active supporters of Ereto Primary School. We are grateful for their help.
We have hit the road with Big Five TV! Yes, we launched Live on Location, a weekly stream that takes you to destinations such as Costa Rica, Egypt, Peru, Colombia and Argentina, bringing you real-time views of what is happening as countries continue to reopen borders to tourism.
The channel is proving very popular as it continues to break new ground and is now affiliated on Twitch.
“The exciting part of these real-time broadcasts to me are that they are unfiltered. Anything can happen and there is no bias or slant on what we are showing,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, Big Five president. “We have experienced issues from the internet cutting out to an unexpected encounter with a street protest, to a road being closed unexpectedly. Good or bad, we want to show the reality so our travel advisors can accurately talk to their clients about the situation on ground. Webinars can’t do that, live TV can.”
While Sanghrajka was traveling in Ecuador, Big Five TV achieved a first – a live broadcast from Ecuador in three locations simultaneously – Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, the San Marcos area representing the lesser known area of Quito, and from Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands. With three locations presented during one broadcast, viewers gained valuable insights into various aspects of the country’s reopening efforts, including impromptu hotel inspections at two prominent hotels Big Five uses in Quito. During the live presentation, the host was able to answer questions about the current Covid entry requirements, what restaurants are open or closed and much more. Viewers also saw Big Five’s hygiene protocols in action, as well as enjoying a glimpse at daily life in each location.
Each broadcast is presented by on-ground managers or guides who take you on walks along the streets and into local restaurants and other favorite hidden gems. The interactive broadcasts are intended to showcase the places, activities and people as countries reopen borders to international travelers again. The broadcasts have a chat feature that allows you to ask questions in real time. For example, a recent Peru broadcast went inside a famous art hotel based on a request in live chat.
Big Five presents Live on Location on Twitch, Tuesdays at 2:00 pm EST, every week in addition to programming presented every Thursday. Viewers can subscribe to our Big Five TV channel, www.twitch.tv/bigfivetv. If you link your Amazon Prime account to Twitch, you have access to one free monthly subscription on Twitch, click here for step by step instructions.