Big Five & Sustainable Travel

You gotta love a company who has the motto: “don’t tell stories better, tell better stories!”

Big Five Tours & Expedition is BIG into sustainable travel.


Big Five is a member of VAST (Virtuoso Active & Specialty Travel). They are not dabbling in sustainability. Sustainability is where they belong.

As President Ashish Sanghrajka recently shared on a Virtuoso webinar with travel advisors, sustainable is more about authentic experiences, and that is what Big Five delivers -experiences that are unique. Sustainable is not just about saving the planet (which is obviously important), but it’s travel with a purpose.

“Experiential travel” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot. “Sustainability” gets thrown around a lot too in different circles.

Sustainable, Experiential, and Authentic.

As Ashish says, sustainability and experiential travel are converging to become the same. When you match it up, authenticity is what comes through. The phrases are becoming interchangeable in discussions.

Costa Christ is Virtuoso’s Sustainability Director.  He is also an ambassador at large at for Spirit of Big Five, and is working with Big Five on their sustainable mission.

They’ve worked on converting Big Five’s Kenya program, and they built the Belize program up from ground zero with conservation in mind. So that means that when you go to Belize, you are not just staying on beach and visiting a ruin. You are staying at a tent at the ruin, you are touring the ruin with a guide from the team that helped excavate the ruin, and you can kayak in the area.  It is an authentic experience.

Ecuador is a big focus with Big Five as well. Ecuador is faced with a heritage that is dying out. Big Five is committed to making their programs there different. They are showing you a product that is more sustainable, they are harnessing the indigenous tribes. showing you the real country. Their web shows you the itineraries to be more land-based, but they are also tied in to the Amazon.  The oil spill in 2001 is well known, but there are many near misses, and other spills, that are not well known about.

Big Five is committed to sustainability.  Their product in Peru is great. They are rebuilding their Australia product. And their new India program is also really embracing the principles. (It’s amazing to think that the cat population – lions and leopards going down- is going down. There are only 1400 tigers left in India.)

On Feb.12. 13, it was the 40th anniversary of Big Five, a company initially born in Kenya. Big Five kicked off a social medial campagin, #40ways, asking for your help in their development of a 40 point road map or their creed to sorting out how their product will look going forward.  Big Five has committed that by 2015 they will be fully sustainable all over the world.


And – Big Five’s efforts are being recognized!  They just won top tour operator for its social media efforts.


Congratulations to Ashish and everyone at Big Five!

And if you’d like to learn more about my VAST partners, and perhaps have a sustainable and experiential travel dream built for you, call me. My partners at Big Five and I can get you sorted!

Sheila Gallant-Halloran


[email protected]