President’s Picks

As you might imagine, I log a lot miles on the road and in the air every year. People always ask me about my favorite places. Here is the answer. In my travels, I am always on the lookout for what’s new, innovative, and cutting-edge. Yet, I am consistently surprised when I run up against the ordinary in the travel industry.  And, that is too often the case… the same old stuff – the same sights, the same activities and the same routings.  I found this in Australia, China and Chile, just to name a few.  At times, there seems to be little difference between private tours and the masses of buses in that they are all headed to exactly the same places.

Indeed, probably 95% of travelers are still being funneled into the same molds, whether they are private clients or mass market. At Big Five, we have deliberately chosen to look after the 5% who share our philosophy, where the most valued asset has nothing to do with price.  Of course, there are classic sights that will nearly always be included. After all, who would go to Egypt the first time and not visit the great pyramids of Giza? But there can still be distinctiveness and originality in how they are seen. That is our intellectual property, where creativity, originality and outside-the-box thinking are the rule and not the exception. This is ingrained in our entire Big Five team, which means that we look deeper and farther afield to give you something more.  Our aim is to present you with journeys that are worth taking!

With President’s Pick, I wanted to take that a step further, to share adventures that I am personally passionate about, tours that have touched me in some way and where I have seen a serious need to not merely think outside the box, but to destroy the box. I have never been one to follow, and I always aim to make a positive difference in every one of our destinations.  Please enjoy my personal picks, and let us help you plan yours.

Sincerely,

ash 1 copy

 

 

 

 

Ashish Sanghrajka


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President’s Picks Tours

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President’s Pick Namibia Desert Quest 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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"I fell in love with Namibia long before I even understood why. What was the connection? Was it the dramatic dunes, the remoteness and remarkable desert animals? Was it the community-based conservancies? Was it that they were the first country in the world to have a sustainability amendment in their constitution? Today, I can tell you that it was and remains all of that. But you need to move beyond the dunes of Sossusvlei."


President’s Pick Colombia A Natural 17 Days President’s Picks Interest(s):

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“Colombia has always felt like home to me and the quest to rediscover always starts at home. This journey is our latest step to introduce you to new activities and new regions to further prove, this sleeping giant of Latin America is fully awake.”


President’s Pick Morocco Mazes & Mysteries 12 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Romantic Getaways, Adventure Travel

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"Every year I visit Morocco and I am amazed by two things: how much the country has to offer, and how little of it is really being done right. Morocco has long been known for its riads, the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara desert and the excruciatingly long drives. This is reflected in nearly every itinerary across the board. This journey is designed to focus more on the adventure side plus the luxury aspect of Morocco and minimize some of those long desert drives. It takes you inside a Berber home, camping on the great sand dunes and into the dramatic gorges of Todra."


President’s Pick An Adventurer’s Chile 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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"Chile has one of the richest histories in Latin America. Yet, too often, I see the same few locations come up repeatedly. There is so much more to Chile than just ice and desert, right? I am happy to answer with a resounding yes. Imagine Chile before the bus tours, the hotels and the overcrowded spots. Now, imagine traveling to places where hidden luxury hotels sport names that you need to learn to pronounce with adventures you didn’t know were there. This is the Chile I fell in love with and want to share with you."


President’s Pick Colorful Japan 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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My first visit to Japan was almost two decades ago. What amazed me the most was how much potential was here once we got away from standard bus tour activities. This journey represents that potential beginning to be realized. We are challenging the norms that take even some local guides out of their comfort zones to find the Japan most people never see.


President’s Pick A Grand Safari in Africa 24 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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"A few years ago, the question used to be which part of Africa do you choose, East or Southern? Combining the two not was an option. Thanks to new flight routes and the exploration of new adventures, the question now is where do you want to start, Nairobi or Cape Town. It’s the perfect safari for someone that has the time and wants to see as much as possible. Imagine, seeing Cape Town from a WWII motorcycle sidecar, engaging with the San people of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi before exploring the Okavango Delta by mokoro. Take in the awesome power of Victoria Falls, connect with an orphaned elephant at the Sheldrick Orphanage in Nairobi, and cap of the greatest safari with the greatest wildebeest migration in the Serengeti!"


President’s Picks: Australia Down Under Canvas 15 Days President’s Picks Interest(s):

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“When one thinks of Australia, the first image that comes to mind is usually the iconic opera house or sacred Uluru (Ayers) Rock. But I see so much more. I see undiscovered roads and overlooked sites. For me, this journey is about canvas… luxury canvas to be sure. This tented camp adventure represents the tangible spirit of the Outback. This is the Australia the masses will miss, yet everyone should experience.”


President’s Pick: Tanzania Safari in the Sun 13 Days President’s Picks Interest(s):

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“I am a firm believer in conservancies and private concessions, and I always look for those secluded spots, even in crowds, where one can see the animals and not vehicles. This safari, as second generation East Africa native, spoke to me because we are combining the newest camp in the central Serengeti that defines opulence, with a private concession in the Grumeti Corridor. This allows the migration window to become wider than before, offering two vantage points to see the herds, before they head to the crowded areas of the northern Serengeti. Combine that with the most exclusive address on the Ngorongoro Crater and a private island stay north of the Mnemba Atoll in Zanzibar, and you have a safari for the ages”


President’s Pick: Historic Routes of Ethiopia 10 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Safari Tours, Adventure Travel

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“After leaving Kenya, my family and I spent a bit of time in Ethiopia on our way to the US. As a child in Kenya, one of my closest childhood friends was from Addis as well, so my desire to see Big Five in Ethiopia has been there for many years. And now, I am confident that the guide infrastructure is ready as well. Welcome to an amazing country!”


President’s Pick: Adventure Guatemala & Panama 19 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Sustainable Travel, Adventure Travel

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“The prefix “UN” connotes the opposite or the undoing of something. That is exactly what this journey is about. When I look at how travel in Central America is offered; frankly, I get bored! The same hotels, the same locations, the same activities consistently show up. What is missing is a sense of imagination and creativity. You should expect more – to see more, to feel more, to do more than the ordinary. This journey allows you to engage with the indigenous tribes of Panama, explore rural Guatemala by glamping in a remote luxury Airstream trailer, and discover the region’s rich ecosystems during hikes and rafting adventures. I promise you will not be bored.”


President’s Pick: Peru Andes Adventure by Train 11 Days President’s Picks Interest(s): Adventure Travel

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"This journey combines three distinctive train trips with classic Peruvian sights. See the stunning Incan sites from Machu Picchu to Puno. Encounter Awamaki, a woman's textile cooperative and interact with these artisan weavers. Discover the Sumbay Caves, with paintings dating back 6,000 to 8,000 years. Go paddle boarding on Lake Huaypo, and hike to Inti Punku, the “Sun Gate” at Machu Picchu. This is a memorable Peruvian adventure."


President’s Pick: Ecuador’s Galapagos & Amazon 15 Days President’s Picks Interest(s):

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"The Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Jungle have never been more endangered. This luxury program was designed to illustrate that tourism done the right way can help preserve the Galapagos as well as the Amazon, by employing the right local guides, and using the right sustainable properties. This is about seeing the real Ecuador, the one that the large cruise lines and the majority of tourists overlook. Step back in time and see this amazing country the way it was meant to be seen."