Sustainable Travel

One of the most important developments in tourism over the last decade has been the slow but inevitable movement towards sustainable travel practices.  Sustainable tourism best practices forms the core value of Big Five.   We believe in and are committed to nurturing that code of responsibility by developing sustainable itineraries and working with partners who share our corporate philosophy.  Beyond the hyperbole, there are real issues that have to be addressed if we are to insure that future generations will have the same opportunities to explore this remarkable planet.  The essential goals of sustainable tourism are:


Country

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Sustainable Travel Tours

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President’s Picks Namibia Damaraland to the Dunes 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“When it comes to conservation of endangered species such as the rhino, you can’t help but feel like you aren’t doing enough. This Namibian safari works with local endeavors to place that power back in your hands. Through tourism, you can make a key difference supporting the Save the Rhino Trust as you track one of the only clusters of free roaming black rhino still left in Africa. You also assist desert-adapted giraffe of the Hoanib Valley Cam with a joint venture between the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the world’s only Africa-wide giraffe conservation organization. This safari is what purpose driven means.”


President’s Pick Colombia In the Heart of It 10 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Sustainable Travel

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“You know that feeling you have after doing something so amazing that you want to tell the world about It, yet you can’t seem to find the right words? Well, this program encompasses that kind of feeling. I came back from an incredible adventure in Colombia, and just couldn’t find the words so we did what we do best – created an adventure around it. ”


South Africa Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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The South Africa I first met had no single face or form, no one posture or personality. I found it in the sweetness of a grape, in the voice of the wind off the cape, in the smile of a young Xhosa girl, and in the deep-throated growl of the leopard. She is big city jazz and tinny tunes from village huts. She was fashioned from the Kalahari’s great, rolling mounds of sand, the random coasts awash with shipwrecks, the lushness of the Cape Floral Kingdom, and, of course, her wild heart.


Zambia, Zimbabwe & Malawi Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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I grew up the Mojave Desert with an assortment of companions – dogs, cats, lizards, rabbits and the occasional horse. From that beginning, it’s no surprise that I adore animals and, given the chance, I will seek them out at every opportunity. And, I admit that I flinch whenever I hear about tragic animal stories anywhere in the world, but especially Africa. I had dreams as a kid of being surrounded by elephants and lions and cheetahs. I have been privileged to encounter them several times in my life, even in Zimbabwe. So, after years of hearing stories about the fate Zimbabwe’s animals, I was delighted to learn that an area in the extreme north of Zimbabwe east of Mana Pools and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site has been converted from a hunting concession to conservation and tourism. I understand this is but the first small step. But it is a step. My hope for Zimbabwe and all Africa is the same as that for my desert… that our children and their children will be able to see the wonders I have seen.


Kenya Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel

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Since I was a girl, I longed to be here surrounded by the wild. In this moment, time seems set aside as we follow the wildebeest and zebra plodding along in a thin line that stretches back through time immemorial. In the afternoon light, thousands of animals seem to walk with me and I can feel my spirit rising. We pause the vehicle to take it all in. I look toward a low mound, not far away. The cheetah is standing on the top scouting the horizon, paying little notice of us or the twin cubs tussling at her feet. In a slow turn, I marvel at the giraffes moving slowly with their distinctive rocking gait towards some skinny trees, and a herd of gazelle munching on the low grass. And, in the distance, elephants. This land calls to that wild streak deep in my heart that longs to be part of something grander than myself. No place is this more powerful than right here, right now.


Botswana Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel

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In the pale pink afternoon light, the slender moroko slips quietly along the wide channel. The sound we hear is the distant cry of an African fish eagle. The remoteness invokes an unfamiliar quiet in this far off part of Africa. We encounter a small herd, a family, of elephants crossing the waters near us, with a large matriarch in the lead. She hesitates, and the three females and two rambunctious youngsters stop behind her. She quickly realizes that we are no threat and they move on across the water with the two younger ones trailing along, splashing the water’s surface with their trunks as they went. I dip my fingers into the water, close my eyes and breathe


Rwanda & Uganda Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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To spend even a moment in the presence of a family of rare mountain gorillas is a spiritual experience few people will ever know. Deep in the forest, the youngest tumbles joyfully down the hill while the elder silverback nearby turns to meet your gaze. You catch your breath as you look deep into the eyes of this powerful creature that could, if inclined, break you in an instant. Yet you find gentleness and intelligence reflected back… This is a moment of eternity and the experience will never leave you.


Tanzania including Zanzibar Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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Looking out across the grassy Serengeti Plains, I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. I turn in time to see the chase begin as the small wildebeest with the injured leg is cut off from the herd. It is quickly surrounded by four spotted hyenas. My heart beats a little faster and beads of sweat gather on my cheek and neck as I watch the end come swiftly for the young animal. Although painful to witness, I understand that this is the way nature intended it – beauty and brutality sharing the same moment. This ritual has been perfected over millennia.


Jordan United Emirates and Oman Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel

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The focus on women’s issues here at home reflects a wider wave that is ever so slowly circumventing the planet. I have a very dear friend from Vermont who has made it her mission to help girls and young women in Kenya gain access to the classroom. In Jordan, the Bani Hamida Women's Weaving Project is hosted by the Jordan River Foundation. Based in Mukawir, it promotes Bedouin handicrafts to support and improve the economic and social wellbeing of Bedouin women and children, who have few opportunities to earn income. The project is reviving traditional Bedouin rug weaving, helping to maintain the social fabric of the Makawir area and provide even more women with income opportunities. Also in Jordan, Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative was founded by the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation in 1993. It aims help women become financially independent by increasing their income while also preserving local heritage. The cooperative, which is managed and run by local women, has provided training for more than 150 women from all villages of Wadi Seer on a variety of handicrafts. I see these women, and their smiles tell the story far more eloquently than I.


Peru Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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It was growing dark as our small group of five made its way along a dark path into the now-closed sanctuary led by our Peruvian guide. It was a nearly unheard of stroke of luck that we received special permission to enter the magnificent Machu Picchu mountain fortress at night. We entered one of the small, roofless stone houses. Now completely dark, we sat in a circle on the dirt floor, legs crossed, as our guide started a small fire. He laid out his ‘table’, a small brightly woven square of cloth. As he began to place his small offerings of food, sweets, herbs, wood and wool, he explained in a whisper that this was the Peruvian way to thank or pay tribute to Mother Earth. Each item had a spiritual purpose. I turned my face to the sky and the stars seemed impossibly brilliant. I can’t honestly say I heard the rest of what he said. I was simply enveloped, mesmerized by the night, the smoke curling up toward the stars, the low hum of his voice and the fire light flickering off the faces of the others.


Guatemala & Belize Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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The sky was cobalt blue that day. I had been climbing all over Tikal’s cool stones like a kid in a playground. I crawled through spaces almost too small for me and ended up in dark dead ends. I scaled the tall stone steps that lead from one platform to another. Later in the day, I wandered off from other people and turned a corner to find myself alone on the backside of a partial stone edifice, eye to eye with the thick forest canopy. I sat on the edge of a stone and exhaled. Relax, I told myself, take it all in. The human voices had moved away from me, so I could hear a small breeze flutter the leaves. In the next moment, a howler monkey began his deep rolling bellow, followed quickly by another some distance away and another until the chorus seemed to wrap around me and roll through the entire jungle. To this day, the sound of that extraordinary song has never left me.


Ecuador & Galapagos Islands Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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Gazing out the charter plane’s small window, I see the Amazon Rainforest laid out beneath me, vast, green and lush. We land on a grass runway, and make our way to the river. The real adventure begins now – a two-hour river journey downstream in a dugout canoe. We quickly leave the outside world behind as the rainforest closes around us. Deep in the forest, I have the extraordinary opportunity to engage with a people who still live by the ways of their ancestors. These hunters and gatherers meet all their needs from the forest and the rivers as generations before them did. This is a way of life that has almost completely vanished from the rest of our planet. In my all too brief stay, I am deeply moved by the young girls who giggle when they see me approaching and the little boy who poses proudly with his gifted t-shirt with the Rolling Stones on the front. These people are on the edge, between an ancient past and an improbable future as they struggle to learn enough to join the world.


Costa Rica Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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I see Costa Rica in a suite of nature’s best colors - cloud rainforests dressed in a hundred shades of green; pristine beaches painted with white, beige and black sands; waterfalls of turquoise and jade; red volcanoes and romantic orange sunsets. I rode the train into the cloud forest, and talked to toucans on walks through treetop canopies. My heart skipped across the waves in an ocean outrigger. And I rappelled into the cold waterfalls of summer.


Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet Custom Tour Varied Days Navigator Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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The Roof of the World… What a perfect metaphor for that one extraordinary place on Earth where the tallest mountains bump heads. I spent nights in my room studying my globe of the world by flashlight, running my fingers over the lines, examining the colors, and trying to decipher the delicious names like Kathmandu. I felt the small bumps and ridges that represented the hard-to-imagine heights of the magnificent mountain ranges. I traveled these mythic mountains and so many more magical places long before I ever left home.


Peru Adventure Trek 12 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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Take the road less traveled - hike the less known route to Machu Picchu along the Salkantay Trail, spending nights glamping in luxury dome tents. Discover the legendary Machu Picchu. Go on a walking tour of colonial Cusco and savor a culinary adventure in Lima.


Ecuador & Colombia Exploration 22 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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Travel by dugout canoe into Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park to encounter extraordinary wildlife and vibrant local culture. Explore Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world due to its location and its continuous activity. Visit an Inca archeological site that represents the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. Take in Bogota the capital city and home to exciting graffiti artists, and Cartagena, where you take an unusual food tour based on the life and work of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Learn about coffee from the experts in the coffee country around Armenia, traditional. Enjoy Medellin and the lovely coastal area of Nuqui, perfect for walks, relaxing on the beaches or soaking in the warm thermal springs as well as whale watching, surfing and kayaking.


New Zealand & Australia Land, Sea, Sky 21 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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This journey features Australia's Whitsundays along with some of the prettiest parts of New Zealand including the top golf courses on both islands. This is the Australia and New Zealand that reaches past the rock, the reef and commercialism.


Galapagos Islands Land Adventure 9 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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Enjoy this land-based exploration of the Galapagos Islands. Stay in luxury tented camp and a delightful island lodge. Swim, snorkel, and spend time on stunning beaches with a host of wildlife that are nearby and unafraid of your presence. Savor this extraordinary wildlife experience.


Northern Peru Warriors of the Clouds 11 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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This journey is about getting past the Incas, and seeing the ancient empires of Peru that shaped the future. It will change how you see Peru through new concepts and access to new areas such as Kuelap, one of the largest ancient stone complexes in the western hemisphere. It has been referred to as the Machu Picchu of the north, even though it is rarely visited by travelers.


Peru Sky High & River Deep 18 Days Enrichment Series Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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This Peru journey takes you beyond the conventional to explore new territories. Set sail with Jean Michael Cousteau and his team to experience the Amazon from the perspective of a conservationist: discover this fascinating destination as you learn about the challenges we face to preserve wildlife habitats, delicate ecosystems and evolving cultural traditions and economic pressures which threaten the environment.


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