2018 Top Travel Picks: Big Five Tours & Expeditions

29 Aug 2017

by Sara Jane Crane  —

Acendas Travel is delighted to share with you the opportunities that our partners feel are particularly exciting for 2018. One of our favorite partners is Big Five Tours & Expeditions, a provider of customized worldwide touring and soft adventure travel. We love that Big Five focuses on low-impact sustainable tourism and has won many awards in this area.

Our Acendas Travel Advisors work with carefully vetted companies like Big Five to build complete travel packages that are designed with you and your loved ones in mind.

We asked the president of Big Five Tours & Expeditions to share his personal top picks for adventurous travel in 2018. Here is his wanderlust filled answer:

“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.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.

For Acendas Travel, 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.”

Ashish Sanghrajka, President, Big Five Tours & Expeditions


1. Australia Unbound        32 days

I am always amazed at how much of Australia is still undiscovered. When you look at where the largest cluster of hotels are, it represents less than half the territory. This itinerary is designed to remove you from those clusters, taking you to the frontiers where mass settlement has not yet happened. This is the real outback. Don’t go down under, go walk about.

With this in-depth exploration, you’ll discover the richness of Australia’s natural treasures including Daintree Forest, one of the oldest forests on the planet where ancient fern have survived for 110 million years; and Bamurru Plains, an extraordinary wilderness of coastal floodplains in Australia’s Northern Territory. You’ll explore Lake St Clair, the deepest in Australia formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago, and famous as the end of the Overland Track trekking route. You will also experience the breathtaking beauty of Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast and have experiences that include a look at a marine oyster farm, canoeing Pelican Bay, cooking demonstrations with the chef, kite flying and star gazing.  On to more cosmopolitan pursuits you will sample distinctive cities such as Melbourne, Perth and Sydney as well as its eccentric islands such as Philip Island and its nightly penguin parade. You’ll discover Australian wines with a private specialist wine guide in Barossa Valley and journey on one of the world’s most famous trains – the Indian Pacific Great Southern Railway, or ‘IP’ as it is affectionately known to train buffs around the world. This extensive journey of Australia’s established as well as rarely visited people and places leaves you with an intimate connection with this striking land.

2. Ecuador’s Galapagos & Amazon        15 days

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.  On this tour, you’ll discover the eccentric inhabitants of three of the Galapagos extraordinary islands – San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz during a land-based stay. You will snorkel and dive in amazing sites such as the lava tunnels of Isabela, a marine sanctuary characterized by its unique geologic formations such as lava flows that produced arches and tunnels both under and above water and that are filled with marine life. You will enjoy a unique wildlife and cultural experience as you spend a day with local fisherman, learning about the world they experience and their fishing techniques during a day aboard a modern privately charter speedboat. You will then travel into the incredible Amazon Rainforest and Yasuni National Park along the Napo River to spend three nights in this incredible ecosystem. You’ll explore the natural wealth the rainforest has to offer, including a canopy tower that rises twelve stories into the treetops. Finally, you’ll spend a day taking in the stunning 16th-century colonial city of Quito, Ecuador’s graceful capital city.

3. Botswana & South Africa          14 days

Botswana is truly the last frontier, a pristine safari destination, with a mission to protect the pinnacle of sustainable tourism. This adventure goes beyond conventional safaris, introducing state-of-the-art facial recognition software as the means of identifying and tracking animals. This extraordinary Botswana safari takes place in and around the filming locations used by National Geographic’s Dereck and Beverly Joubert.  You’ll go on safari in the pristine lands of Chobe National Park in search of some of the renowned huge herds of elephant and buffalo as well as lion, cheetah, an amazing variety of antelope, crocodile and hippo. You will experience the legendary Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River with a startling menu of adventure activities from micro-light flights over the falls, to bungee jumping, to sunset cruises on the river. Next, you’ll take in enchanting Cape Town on a photographic excursion suitable for photographers of all experience levels from beginners to seasoned pros. Finally, you’ll enjoy a private tour of the Cape Winelands for a leisurely exploration of the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek as well as wine tastings at established wine estates.

4. Incredible Indochina          29 days

I first visited Indochina with my family in 1998, and remembered thinking how much potential this region had if the infrastructure could just be improved. Fast forward to today and the conversation has changed completely to ‘how do we keep these areas authentic?’ This itinerary answers that question.

From world-class accommodations to sailing the Mekong River, this exceptional journey takes you to the cutting edge. There are many ways to experience multi-faceted Southeast Asia. First, you’ll discover its authentic cuisine during a culinary experience at a Thai kitchen in Chiang Mai and on a walk through Hanoi to explore the street foods and markets in the company of noted chef and author Daniel Hoyer. Enjoy an early morning visit to a monastery to offer alms to the Buddhist monks. In Chiang Rai, engage in the world of the Asian elephant. Encounter Cambodia’s mesmerizing Angkor Wat temple complex near Siem Reap. Travel off track to the less seen temple site of Koh Ker, once capital for King Jayavarman IV, and visit Beng Mealea, a 12th-century temple the size of Angkor. Savor three nights sailing on the Mekong River aboard Aqua Mekong from Cambodia into Vietnam. Enjoy an overnight cruise on  Vietnam’s spectacular Halong Bay with its staggering karst topped islands jutting out of the waters. Spend a night on a floating luxury hotel on the famous River Kwai. Go on a delightfully unusual excursion in Hanoi  and take Tuk Tuk driving lessons in Bangkok.

5. Northern Peru Warriors of the Clouds         7 days

Most countries feel lucky to have an iconic sight or two. Peru is one of the few locations with so many that it transcends empires. This journey is about getting past the Incas and seeing the ancient empires of Peru that shaped the future and about changing how you see Peru through new concepts and access to new areas.

You will travel back into ancient Peru as you discover the Tombs of Revash high in the hills of Peru’s northern cloud forest on the edge of a limestone cliff. And, you’ll be among the very few to visit Kuelap, one of the largest ancient stone complexes in the western hemisphere that has been referred to as the Machu Picchu of the north. Enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes access to areas of the Leymebamba Museum not usually open to the public, including the special climate-controlled depository where ancient mummies are kept and laboratories where bio-archaeologists are preserving and cataloging the Laguna de los Cóndores artifacts. Hike through the lush cloud forest to Gocta Waterfalls, one of the highest in the world, and take a dip in one of the falls natural pools.  Finally, you’ll explore Lima’s growing international culinary reputation during a sampling excursion through the city’s local markets, traditional bodegas and artisan eateries that collectively showcase some of the finest of Peru’s cuisine.

To make one of these adventures part of your life in 2018 or beyond, contact Acendas Travel to start planning today. 




More than Four Decades of Quality, Integrity and Sustainability
Big Five Tours & Expeditions is a premier luxury travel company offering individualized vacations worldwide, specialized in satisfying discriminating tastes for the ultimate travel experience.
Founded in 1973, Big Five Tours & Expeditions is renowned for customized, luxury travel and soft adventure, to more than 45 destinations worldwide.

Big Five provides destination journeys that focus on low-impact, sustainable tourism that steadfastly supports environmentally responsible lodgings, camps, excursions and cruise boats. Sustainability is the soul of Big Five Tours & Expeditions.