Dear Advisor Partners,

This might be the strongest experience of travel sensory overload I have felt in a while. I write this literally a few hours after returning from an adventure in Guatemala during my latest visit there. I will go over the travel protocols at the bottom of this blog.

I loved being back in Guatemala. My last visit included my family. As a couple of Star Wars junkies were in the mix this time (myself included), I had to make sure to end up at magnificent Tikal, where the end of Empire Strikes Back was filmed. That same trip took us beyond the norm in Peten to the hidden ruins of El Mirador, accessible only by helicopter or a five-day hike. An added bonus of that trip was seeing that a year later the Discovery Channel copied our adventure, even using the same helicopter and pilot.

This time, we focused on Guatemala’s stunning volcanoes. The country has 37 volcanoes. This time we specifically dug deeper to explore how we can harness active volcanoes and make them part of the Big Five experience there. That started with us setting out on a strenuous hike to the top of Acatenango, a dormant volcano looking down over the very active Fuego Volcano. We took it to a new level from there with a pizza dinner under the moonlight and away from the city lights. We cooked over the lava river streaming down from the top of Pacaya Volcano. And day  was topped off with handmade chocolate, and avocado beer. Perfect!

Guatemala remains a delight and it cannot be summed up with any single highlight. After all my visits, it still hast the power to delight and surprise me.  It remains more than you ever expect. Check out the video to see what I mean!

To explore this fascinating country, visit Big Five’s Guatemala.


It’s in the details

Getting to Guatemala requires a negative PCR test 96 hours prior to arrival, which we recommend you keep a printed copy of the results with you. Though the health form is not asked for on arrival, it is asked for when checking in and can be filled out 24 hours prior. Make sure to complete it on your mobile device and take a screen shot of the QR code. On return, the Big Five team has all necessary protocol in place to have a medical professional visit your hotel in Antigua for a private PCR test, taken at 9am, with results to you by late afternoon. Print that out and show that at check in along with a short form you are given at check in attesting that you have everything you need to depart Guatemala. We have all the logistics in place so you don’t have to think about anything, just enjoy the sensory overload!


Dear Advisor Partners,

Our focus has always been on the space between two known entities. In this case, it’s the space between Torres Del Paine and Atacama.

I fell in love with Chile almost 20 years ago, and was in awe of the transformation that took place – from the murals and street art, to the dynamic culinary, and, of course, the breathtaking landscapes. If ever there was a place where I wanted to go off the beaten path, it was here.

Discovering the real essence of Chile between the two most famous natural landmarks certainly isn’t easy, however, the quest to always tell a better story leads us to  some pretty amazing findings.

I remember watching one of my favorite movies as a child, Back To the Future, as I thought about this blog. My favorite line was from Doc Brown when he is told by Marty, “hey, doc, you don’t have enough road.” Doc’s reply, I would like think, inspired this post. “Where we’re going Marty, we don’t need roads.”

Well, Doc, you may not have planned this back in 1985, however, you definitely nailed it. Where this program is going, my friends, you don’t need roads. You need hiking boots.

Welcome to the space between, and enjoy the video offering a glimpse into the Chile I fell in love with so long ago.

Explore Chile on this new 17-day adventure.

Dear Agency Partners,

Sometimes you must go backward in order to go forward.  So 2021 takes me back to my roots in East Africa, where a reinvention of the traditional safari is taking place – with purpose leading the way.

I grew up knowing if you went to Kenya, you went to Tanzania. If you wanted to go to other parts of East Africa, they had to be added on. Who made that rule anyway? It seemed to be widely accepted until a few years ago. Many of our advisor partners and guests started asking the same question… Why?

Why not combine Tanzania with something other than Kenya such as like Rwanda?  And, what about matching Kenya with something besides Tanzania like Uganda?  Some time ago we began designing programs to respond to those questions. We noticed how popular our Kenya and Uganda combination, in particular, was becoming.

So what happens when people stop traveling like they did in 2020? Something amazing began changing within our own team. We began to go even further off the beaten track, and we got more excited as we became more creative, which lead us to go even further afield. With that renewed energy came a renewed purpose.

Enter our newest President’s Pick Wilds of Uganda and Kenya. Take the unique gorilla habituation project in Bwindi and combine that with chimpanzee trekking in Kibale. Then add a safari in the less-visited Tana River Delta in the eastern part of Kenya, and enhance it with a front row seat to elephant conservation in the Mbulia Conservancy, where one of your guides is an ex-poacher. End this remarkable journey with the great wildebeest migration in the famed Masai Mara.

The result – a packed bag… See you in Nairobi.


In memory of Bipan.

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