Dear Advisor Partners,
I am sharing Part III of our Peru Dispatch. Now and then, something happens that changes the trajectory of your life, reaffirming key decisions made. Whenever that involves changing others’ lives without expecting anything in return, powerful moments are born.
in 2021, the Spirit of Big Five Foundation aligned with professor Walter and Kipi the Robot to change the way education is delivered to the most remote and impoverished communities in Peru. On March 17, 2023, Kipi was demonstrated for a local school in Lima. I joined Walter and Big Five Peru team members to witness this revolutionary robot in action. I was proud when we onboarded this project and knew Kipi represented something positive born out of the pandemic under tough circumstances. Kipi was the path forward schools without any access to the internet or any form of digital communication have been searching for.
The Kipi experience in Lima was documented in the enclosed video, and I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched the children in that classroom transform. They connected with this robot emotionally, they interacted, and any thought of shyness was removed immediately. This was education 2.0, a synergy with dedicated teachers to take children’s knowledge intake to a whole new level. This was an experience in Peru I won’t soon forget, a proud moment seeing the fruit of our collaboration with Walter. The foundation cannot wait to help Walter complete his new operating system and deploy even more of these robots. Kipi and Walter are real-world examples of innovation overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, and the Spirit of Big Five is so honored to be on this journey with them.
The previous dispatches focused on the magical experience in Peru, and this one is focused on the impact. Enjoy the video
Dear Advisor Partners,
I share with you Part II of our Peru dispatch. I call this one “beyond Machu Picchu” because there is so much more to the country than one site, even if it is one of the New Wonders of the World. Peru’s history goes back to near the beginning of civilization, and our team is hard at work on a deluge of new ideas and concepts that have come up during my visit. As you can imagine, there is a lot of excitement about Peru in our office. However, beyond the history of Peru lies the adventure.
With every visit to Peru with my family, we try something new that feeds my adventure bug. And usually, my son is up for anything, while my daughter and wife are a bit more, I guess the word is sensible. Well, this year was no different, except for one twist. My son turned 16 during our adventure, and it was in January when I started counting how many real weeks of uninterrupted time together we have until he graduates high school. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I only have 10 weeks of uninterrupted time with him. This birthday had to be epic. We didn’t tell him what I had planned until the morning of, and he, I, and our amazing guide, Edwar, jumped off a Sacred Valley cliff at around 13,000 feet, rose up to 14,000 feet before paragliding back down into the circle on a local farm field in the valley, ironically, not far from Sky Lodge, which was our last adventure.
The air was a bit strong, which made the flight that much more scenic and the landing that much more exciting. Now, I have been paragliding in many locations before, just never with my son. The last time he saw me jump off a cliff, he was 4 years old, watching me bungee jump in Whistler. I remember promising him then that when he was old enough, we would do something crazy together. Well, it just happened.
I said in my last blog that Peru doesn’t need tourism back, it deserves it. The gratitude of everyone I met, including our pilots and old friends not seen since 2021, was real. If anyone thought Peru was taking tourism for granted, you definitely won’t think that now. Don’t take my word for it, though, just look at the smile on my son’s face.
Enjoy this week’s video, and if you want to feel like a bird, watch the bonus clip my son filmed in flight on a GoPro, if you don’t feel like a bird by then, watch it again.
CLICK HERE for a BONUS Video of More Adventure!
Dear Advisor Partners,
As the tourism industry in Peru is presently recovering, there are three things that jump out at me, which I will share as part I of our III part dispatch.
1. The revenue loss figure has been grossly understated. The Cusco region alone is 97% tourism-dependent, and an economy this fragile takes a huge hit when a major contribution to the GDP is halted. This is the latest illustration of something everyone, from the WTTC to industry leaders, has talked about for years.
2. Everything from Machu Picchu to the trains to airports and overland passes has reopened, and I commend those authors who posted the importance of visiting. The industry is indeed showing signs of a quick recovery, yet there is not enough education locally on how globally connected the Peru economy is, and the true contribution to GDP tourism provides. This was at the center of my need to visit Peru right now and share those conversations with you.
3. While the message is loud and clear that Peru is open for business, the most common question we are asked is about safety. The only way to illustrate the importance of tourism and the stabilization of the industry is leading by example and traveling to Peru with my family.
I write this while sitting with my wife and children in Machu Picchu to explore Peru and form new bonds with the locals. From day one, the gratitude felt by the locals to see us has shown through. I would even say their joy with the rebound in tourism is more powerful now than when the country reopened after the pandemic. It is that powerful.
We recorded a video today while at Machu Picchu because the story of any visit to Peru starts here. I used to think Peru needed tourism back, but I was wrong. Peru deserves tourism back.
Click Here to Enjoy Part I of our dispatch.
Dear Advisor Partners,
Every adventure I partake in leads to some entertaining dispatches, and each episode has a wow moment that makes your jaw drop. Part One of this particular dispatch had us up close to baby wildebeest in the Serengeti and a special moment when Big Five celebrated our 50th anniversary. I recorded a video while on safari, right where it all began in East Africa. Part Two was a special moment, as the WOW moment here was not what I expected. Of course, the visit to Lentorre was to take center stage. However, that was not the only highlight. We now share Part III of our East Africa Dispatch, the final chapter of this adventure. Leaving the Rift Valley, we headed north to Loisaba Conservancy, a place I often visit.
Two of the guides here are close friends; one I met later in Nairobi, while he was on holiday, and the other, Lenny, whom I reconnected with after so long. Brown, as he is affectionately called, is a legend in Loisaba, and the two of us were thick as thieves. As you watch this week’s video, pay attention to the end, Lenny may have just inadvertently starred in the latest Land Rover commercial because, well, they still use the venerable Defenders up here, my favorite Go Anywhere 4×4. This was where the safari slowed down, where the benefit of conservancy life took over. There were no crowds of safari vehicles, as you see in the well-known reserves. There were no Nairobi safari do-it-your-selfers, here it was just us, the animals, and the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises anyone could ask for. The highlight here, however, was not just that. It was something that was the first for any safari company in the north – a day trip by air to the only organized community elephant rescue sanctuary in Kenya. You can access Reteti from camps like Sarara, which is great, however, Big Five guests staying anywhere in or around the Northern Rangelands Trust can get here by air as a day trip. Now I have been to Reteti many times, and know how powerful it is, so the amazing advisors on the safari went along with our ops manager James from the Nairobi office. When a Nairobi resident who has been all over Kenya comes back with his jaw on the floor, you know you have something golden.
This brings us to the Land Rover commercial, which is quite comical in one of those ‘you had to be there moments.’ All over East Africa, land cruisers have replaced the original Defenders due to new rules and available parts. Now mind you, we are not talking about the Defenders you see on the road in North America, I have my own opinion on those. No, we are talking about the old metal boxes that were strong enough to withstand a cannon. I had the pleasure of even testing one through deep water and got to see the snorkel and drain plug work as planned. So all through our safaris, the phrase, “this is Land Rover, hang on,” began surfacing, and as you will see, even in hushed tones, next to sleeping lions. The perfect commercial, I am sure you will agree.
CLICK HERE to enjoy this week’s video and part III of our East Africa Dispatch.
For those wondering, I can neither confirm nor deny that I drove the Defender, only that, I do know how to drive a manual transmission, no matter how stiff the clutch may be.
Dear Advisor Partners,
Taking a break from the dispatches & videos you enjoyed so much sharing to talks of Peru last week.
There has been so much activity with everything and everywhere being open; for instance, Machu Picchu to Iquitos is now open and running like normal. From the very start of the disruptions in Peru, we wanted to share real, true updates with you from the ground, from drivers between Cusco and the Sacred Valley to guides walking around Lima and Aguas Calientes.
We even had a video from inside Machu Picchu prepared and ready to share! So, when the site reopened, we could show everyone actual real footage instead of trying to convince you to think a certain way. We stood by Peru as its tourism came to a grinding halt, taking steps to help guests remain flexible. Now we must help Peru rebuild. That means showcasing all the open sights and, most importantly, the people, from guides to drivers to hotel and river cruise staff, eagerly awaiting your return.
It’s no secret that Peru was one of the most sought-after destinations post-pandemic; we can see now, from the projectory of future bookings, we expect Peru to once again be a hot destination, with spaces becoming an issue later this year into the next. This is not the first nor last time political stability impacts a country. However, it is never an infinite problem. There is a beginning, and most importantly, there is an end. The situations may take longer to resolve; nevertheless, the economics that powers a country like Peru take precedence.
We want to help everyone in Peru get back on their feet, so we have restored our deposit policy back to normal for new bookings in order to allow those prepaid deposits go to help all the providers in Peru get back on their feet and to survive these troubled times and be there for you and your clients return. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the Spirit of Big Five Foundation has two social projects in Peru that remain active and continue to be supported.
How do I also know Peru is ready, you ask?
Well, the fact that our favorite 80’s hair bands, from Mötley Crüe to Def Leppard and others, just performed to a packed audience in Lima 24 hours ago is how. One of our guides Cris Vera who some of you know, went to that concert (where he eventually lost his voice). Now I know this music is not everyone’s cup of tea, so I only ask, if that entourage is in Peru, where is yours?
CLICK HERE to Enjoy this video showcasing the happenings from Peru last week (minus the rock concert)