Multi-Day Tour | Private

President's Picks: Ecuador & Colombia Exploration (22 days)

Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Inc.

Quito, Ecuador To Cartagena, Colombia

Valid for Departures Now Through: 15 Dec 2018

President's Picks: Ecuador & Colombia Exploration (22 days)

Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Quito, Ecuador
Illa Experience Hotel None

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival, after you collect your baggage, you are welcomed by your Big Five representative, who escorts you to your private vehicle. Your driver will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. During the drive, your guide will review your schedule for the next day and answer any questions. Your guide will also assist with hotel check in.

Day 2
Quito, Ecuador
Illa Experience Hotel Breakfast

After breakfast, you discover some of the hidden treasures of Quito such as the San Francisco Market, which is one of the oldest markets in the city. During the visit you will enjoy the smells and colors of the fruits and vegetables while you learn more about the history of this ancient market and the local products. Learn secrets about local natural medicine. You can opt to participate in a traditional “limpia,” a ceremonial healing with local herbs.

Then, continue to monastery of San Diego northwest of El Panecillo. This beautiful 17th-century monastery sits in a quiet courtyard behind thick walls above Old Town. Inside is an outstanding collection of colonial works from both the Quito and Cusco schools or art. After lunch, continue with a short visit to Santo Domingo Church and Monastery before you see El Carmen Alto Church and Convent. This convent belongs to the Carmelitas cloistered nuns. In the afternoon, you enjoy a short walk along the Independence Square before returning to your hotel.
Day 3
Coca, Ecuador
Napo Wildlife Center Amazon Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning you are transferred to the airport for your 30-minute flight to Coca over the eastern Andes mountain range. You are met by Napo Wildlife staff and transferred to Port Francisco de Orellana, where you embark on a comfortable, covered motor boat down the Napo River and into the heart of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park is rich with extraordinary wildlife and vibrant local culture. Spanning nearly 2.5 million acres of Amazonian rain forest, this is truly a gem. And the Napo Wildlife Center is the only lodge within the park’s boundaries. You arrive at the Napo Wildlife Center landing port, entry point to the Añangu territory and the national park. You have time to stretch your legs, use restrooms and maybe encounter one of the dozen species of primates that thrive in this territory. From here, you travel by dugout canoe (motorized transport is not allowed within the Añangu Reserve) that will take you to the main lodge through Añangu Creek. You may see monkeys as well as large birds like toucans, parrots or even macaws. You arrive at the lodge in late afternoon, where you are met with a stunning view of the lake and a welcome drink. Take time to settle in and relax a bit before dinner. The lodge is an award-winning ecolodge with just 16 spacious cabins that include a king-size bed and a twin-size bed, safety deposit box, private bathrooms with hot water, private balcony with views of the lake and the surroundings, 24-hour electricity provided by a solar panel system and silent power generators, plenty of 120v outlets to recharge your gear, ceiling fans and mosquito nests and screened windows. This evening, you have the option of joining a night out on the water in search of cayman (South American alligator) and other nocturnal species around the lake and savor the night sounds of the lake.

Day 4
Coca, Ecuador
Napo Wildlife Center Amazon Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Wake early to the sounds of the jungle. Set out early to reach one of the best and most accessible parrot clay licks in Ecuador, about an hour from the lodge. You arrive just before parrot activity kicks off, usually between 7:30 and 8:30am. You many see as many as 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws known to frequent that lick. Of course, much will depend on the weather conditions. but visit are usually successful. Later, you savor a hike along the forest trail to visit to the Quichua community of Añangu and share time with a family as they perform their activities.

Hike through a terra-firme forest for about 30 minutes to arrive at the second parrot clay lick where, if weather conditions help, you can find different species of parrots, parakeets and macaws. Enjoy a box lunch at the parrot clay lick observatory. Late this afternoon, return to your lodge.
Day 5
Coca, Ecuador
Napo Wildlife Center Amazon Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast, you set out on an excursion in the air… a canopy tour among the treetops. A 36-meter/118-foot high, 12-story canopy tower is a powerful way to experience life above the forest floor. This is the second tower at the Napo Wildlife Center, while the first is attached to the dining hall and allows great views of the lake. It is set about at a 20-minute walk from the lodge deep within the terra-firme forest. As you ascend the tower, you pass through various levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross onto a wooden platform built into the tree. The views are awe-inspiring. The metal tower itself was constructed to the highest standards, galvanized, and carefully inspected by engineers. Safety is the priority. The platform in the top of the tree was constructed by tree platform specialists brought from EcoEcuador's Peruvian partner organization Perú Verde. From top to bottom, there is no finer canopy experience in Eastern Ecuador. Flocks of colorful tanagers pass right through the canopy of the tree as well as blue-and-yellow macaws. In nearby trees you may see spider monkeys searching for fruit or a couple of large toucans calling in the early mornings and afternoons. The life of the forest canopy opens before you. Birds that are virtually impossible to see from the forest floor far below are suddenly right beside you, oblivious to your presence. The canopy tower opens a new world to you.

Return to the lodge for lunch followed by an afternoon visit to a terra-firme trail. Hike through the primary forest to learn about the forest and its inhabitants including lizards, colorful manakins and the unique and endemic Golden mantle tamarin monkeys. After the hike, explore the lake and creeks by dugout canoe, and you may encounter a giant otter family on the way.
Day 6
Cotopaxi, Ecuador
San Agustin de Callo Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today is an early departure with one last excursion canoeing back to the Napo River. The creek may reveal new sights of giant otters, monk saki monkeys or rare birds. At the dock at the park entry point, you take a restroom break before continuing upriver in motorized canoes in order to return to Coca. You arrive late morning and check in for the flight to Quito. Upon your arrival in Quito, you are met and transferred to Cotopaxi. Head south towards the avenue of the volcanoes in the company of your volcanologist. The first volcano you come to is the active Mama Tungurahua, rising some 5,023 meters/16,479 feet. After years of dormancy, volcanic activity on the mountain restarted on August 19, 1999, with the last major eruption in 2014. It sits on the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes of central Ecuador, 140 kilometers/87 miles south of the capital, Quito, in the upper Amazon Basin. The area is known for its waterfalls and as the southeastern-most cloud forest in the Andean region. It is an important ecosystem that offers a wealth of flora and fauna including orchids, butterflies, bromeliads and iconic mammals such as the spectacle bear.

You set out towards the most majestic and beautiful of the volcanoes in the world, Cotopaxi, at an altitude of nearly 6,096 meters/20,000 feet. It is considered the highest active volcano in the world due to the geographical location and its continuous activity. It is part of the more than 74 volcanoes of the Ecuadorean Andes, 20 of which are considered potentially active and four that are presently active: Reventador, Sangay, Tungurahua and Cotopaxi.
Day 7
Riobamba, Ecuador
Hacienda Abraspungo Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The volcano is in the Cotopaxi National Park, a protected spread across three provinces – Cotopaxi, Napo and Pichincha, and is about 50 km/31 mi south of Quito. Nearby are two other volcanoes – the dormant Rumiñahui Volcano and the historic Sincholagua, which had its last major eruption in 1877. Cotopaxi has seen an increase in periodic activity leading some to expect a large volcanic event; however, it is indeed monitored with the most sophisticated equipment and technology, and considered the most monitored volcano in the world. You can explore the national park and some of the areas where eruptions have occurred. Please note that due to this recent activity, Cotopaxi is currently closed, but we can arrange access by special request.

Explore Cotopaxi National Park in depth with your volcanologist-guide as you hike through this impressive ecosystem, home to some of the most important flora and fauna species in the high Andes such a condor, the national bird of Ecuador, spectacle bear, mountain tapir, puma, rabbit, wild horse and fox.

In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Riobamba, an old colonial city in the foot hills of the highest mountain in Ecuador - Chimborazo, with 64,000 meters/21,000 feet. Take a short city tour visiting local the market before continuing to your hotel.
Day 8
Cuenca, Ecuador
Mansion Alcazar Breakfast, Lunch

Today you will visit Colta Lagoon some 30 minutes away from Riobamba. The lagoon is home to a wide variety of wildlife including ducks, swans, sheep, birds and fish. The small towns that surround the lagoon are home to many traditional communities. The town of Colta has the largest population of indigenous Quichua people in the province of Chimborazo. Like other Andean communities, Colta´s local economy is based on agriculture, tourism and artisan crafts. Colta´s local artisans are known for their baskets and mats weaved with natural reeds. Stop at La Balbanera Church considered the first Catholic church built in this region by the Spanish in 1534 after conquering the Inca Empire here. Then continue to Palacio Real and visit the local community, where you have the opportunity to see how the women of the community develop activities such as the production of handicrafts using local products for economic support of the community. Enjoy engaging with people and having lunch in the community, before you continue to Ingapirca, where a nearby Inca site of the same name can be found. Visit the older Inca ruins and archeological site that represent the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most significant building is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. Arrive to Cuenca in the afternoon.

Day 9
Cuenca, Ecuador
Mansion Alcazar Breakfast

Today is at leisure to explore on your own. The full name is Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca. It was originally a Cañari settlement that archeologists believe was founded around 500 CE. Today it is the capital of the Azuay Province and regarded as the most European city in Ecuador. Its Spanish colonial architecture dating from the 16th and 17th centuries gives the impression similar to cities throughout Spain. The center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site.

Day 10
Bogotá, Colombia
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota Breakfast

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Quito, where you connect your flight to Bogota. You are met on arrival and escorted to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 11
Bogotá, Colombia
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota Breakfast

Join your guide to explore Bogota’s engaging street art. More relaxed laws here including the declassification of graffiti from a crime to a mere violation have helped the capital city to become a vibrant gathering place for home-grown as well as world-renowned artists. Indeed, Colombia has embraced graffiti as the artistic expression of its people. Artists are often commissioned to create facades in an attempt by businesses to avoid mindless tagging, and advertising campaigns utilize the medium as a channel to reach their market. For the ‘grafiteros’ themselves, it is a chance to create powerful social commentary about the nation’s politics, to champion their heroes or simply to brighten the days of the people passing by.

You will see some of the best examples of this wall art that has been created by the city’s urban artists. The tour takes in streets with colorful, dynamic and often controversial paintings by renowned urban artists such as Toxicomano, Crisp, Pez, Lescivo and TOT, among others. Several of these artists are also making an international name for themselves in places like Miami. Recognized galleries carry out urban art exhibitions and promote their artists. At the end of the tour, you will meet one of the local artists who will teach you how to create your own graffiti.

Day 12
Villa de Leyva, Colombia
Hotel Posada de San Antonio Breakfast

After breakfast, head north through fields, past greenhouses of carnations and roses. Flower production is an important industry here. Drive to the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true feat of engineering. The walk into the cathedral begins in a tunnel that passes the fourteen Stations of the Cross and continues to a spacious dome. An enormous cross is carved into the rock and there are three naves of the cathedral that represent the birth, life and death of Christ. In the central nave is the main altar, above which is a cross measuring 16 m/52 ft in height and 10 m/32 ft in width made by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez and is the largest cross made from salt in the world. The site also has an auditorium that can seat 200 people. See a mirror of water, the amazing visual effects of water on carved saline rock.

Then, you continue on a two-hour drive to Villa de Leyva. In the afternoon, discover this beautiful towns, founded in 1572. In colonial times, it played a central role in the colony and was a principal producer of olive oil and some grains such as wheat and barley. It was chosen as a favorite place of the Viceroy and his entourage. Today, the city is a colonial jewel with an enormous plaza surrounded by Spanish-style houses, small alleyways, cobblestone streets and the 17th-century parochial church. The town’s location away from major trade routes in a high valley of semi-desert terrain resulted in few changes for most of the last four centuries. It is one of the few towns in Colombia to have preserved much of its original colonial style and architecture: the streets and large central plaza are still paved with cobblestones, and many buildings date from the 16th century.It was declared a National Monument as early as 1954 to preserve its architecture. The focus of the town is the Plaza Mayor, the largest square in Colombia and believed to be the largest entirely cobbled square in South America.
Day 13
Bogotá, Colombia
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota Breakfast

Begin this morning after breakfast with a visit to the Museo El Fósil, founded in 1977 and built on the site where a kronosaurus, an extinct marine reptile, was discovered. It is among the largest pliosaurs found, and may date back more than 120 million years. The Convento del Santo Ecce Homo was established in 1620 by the Dominicans, who were the first Europeans sent to try to convert the indigenous community. It is about 13 kilometers/8 miles from Villa de Leyva in the municipality of Sutamarchan. Restored in 1965, the convent is one of Colombia´s national sites of cultural interest and is a jewel of colonial architecture. It offers an interesting collection of religious art from the colonial era such as liturgical artifacts and paintings. Late this afternoon, you set out for Bogota on a three-hour drive. Check in to your hotel.

Day 14
Armenia, Colombia
Hacienda Bambusa Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you are transferred to Bogota Airport to connect with your flight to Armenia in the lush coffee region. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to your hacienda along narrow roads lush with plantain, manioc, orange and pineapple plantations. After you check in, the remainder of the day is at leisure to relax or opt for one of the hacienda’s activities that range from cooking and cacao-making demonstrations, to birdwatching and hiking, to zip lining and paragliding.

Day 15
Armenia, Colombia
Hacienda Bambusa Breakfast, Dinner

Today, you take in Finca La Morelia, where you learn about the complete coffee-producing process – from picking beans to brewing a fresh cup for your own tasting. The coffee-growing zone is a geographic area that encompasses three Colombian departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío, with their corresponding capital cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. The three departments share a traditional coffee culture, yet each city also has its own unique characteristics. The region is called the “Coffee Axis” or “Coffee Triangle.” And Armenia is at its heart, with most coffee production in country based here.

Day 16
Medellín, Colombia
Hotel Diez Medellin Breakfast

Early this morning you depart with your guide to the Cocora Valley in Los Nevados National Park. You’ll spot Colombia’s national tree, the “Quindian wax-palm.” It is known to reach an amazing 60 meters/197 feet in height. You may spot hummingbirds and endemic yellow-eared parrots. Upon arrival, you may enjoy either hiking or horseback riding. Hike into cloud-forest to experience the lush biodiversity of the flora and fauna. Cross Quindio River on an ecological pathway through the tallest wax-palms in the world. Stop at a trout farm and enjoy a traditional smoked-trout meal.

Continue 10 kilometers/6 miles towards the small traditional town of Salento. Stroll past the colorful balconies and colonial architecture of Bolivar Square, "calle real," the handicrafts shops and Cocora viewpoint. The town has been isolated for generations and therefore has retained more of its colonial architecture than almost any other town in the Coffee Region. Visit the traditional town of Finlandia, a small community economically supported by agriculture and tourism. Although coffee is the major agricultural product, the municipality's diverse ecosystem makes it perfect for the production of fruits and vegetables. Spend some time soaking-up the regional atmosphere before you are transferred to the airport in Pereira to board your flight to Medellin. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel, approximately a one-hour drive.
Day 17
Nuqui, Colombia
El Cantil Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, transfer to San German airport, about an hour’s drive to connect with your flight to Nuqui, surrounded by jungle on the northern end of Colombia’s Pacific Coast. Transfer to a dock where you board a boat for a ride to your ocean-side lodge, about 45 minutes.

In the afternoon, walk to a lovely little waterfall, Cascada del Amor, with its crystalline waters. A short stroll further into the jungle is another waterfall, Mellizas. Enjoy stretches of empty beaches.
Day 18
Nuqui, Colombia
El Cantil Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The day is yours to spend as you like, being as busy or laid back as you choose. Activities include leisurely jungle walks, relaxing on the beaches or soaking in the warm thermal springs. Set out in search of whales or go surfing and kayaking.

Day 19
Cartagena, Colombia
Casa San Agustin Breakfast

After breakfast, travel by boat back to Nuqui and transfer to the airport for your flight to Medellín’s domestic airport. Upon arrival in San German Airport, you are greeted and transferred, about a 40-minute drive, to the international Medellin Airport to board your flight to Cartagena. You arrive in Cartagena this evening, where our representative will transfer you to your boutique hotel.

Day 20
Cartagena, Colombia
Casa San Agustin Breakfast

After you take in the colonial architecture and character of the old city, you are in for a treat – a great gastronomy experience. This Literary Menu of García Márquez is a half-day gastronomic tour in Cartagena, which serves the dishes and drinks tasted by the writer Garcia Marquez’s array of characters. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century, and is noted for his book Love in the Times of Cholera. The tour highlights the traditional cuisine of the Colombian Caribbean that his characters .

The tour begins at Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower), a symbol of the old city of Cartagena. Here you will find Los Mártires Bookstore, a literary paradise where you may find some of the first editions of Gabriel García Marquez’s books. You set out on an excursion with a Food Concierge, your specialist guide who is an admirer of the famed writer and knowledgeable about Marquez’s life and his works. The passion that he feels for Colombian culture has led him to offer the best of the local culture through gastronomic experiences. As you travel from one locale to another, your guide shares stories with you that bring Martquez’s own life and his characters alive through foods such as Caribbean patacones (fried bananas), a favorite among river captains. Discover sites that inspired scenes in Love in the Time of Cholera such as the place where Fermina Daza decided to give up her lover, Florentino Ariza. Other characters and scenes dance to life at the Plaza de San Pedro (St. Peter's Square), Calle de La Iglesia (Church Street), and Calle Santos de Piedra (Stone Saints Street). Learn about the character Florentino’s coffee, and sample his favorite drink with the flavor of the world's finest coffee. Finally, end the tour at Calle de las Carretas, where you can taste a delicacy of dough and egg, and maybe enjoy a Mango’s mojito, the fruit that grew in the Juvenal Urbino’s patio.
Day 21
Cartagena, Colombia
Casa San Agustin Breakfast

Today is free to enjoy Cartagena on your own. Explore San Felipe Fortress, built on San Lázaro Hill by the Spanish in 1536 to defend the city from pirate attacks. Discover the historic area inside the walled city, which has been designated both Mankind’s Heritage Site and Colombian National Heritage Site by UNESCO. Investigate the narrow streets adorned with antique doorways and flower-filled balconies. Enjoy a leisurely walk through shady Parque Bolevar, which has four fountains with a statue of the great Liberator in the center. Take in the fascinating Museo del Oro, with a fine collection of archeological objects dating back to the pre-Hispanic period, and the notorious Palacio de la Inquisición, recognizable for its large baroque door. The Inquisition held its meetings in the palace, which was also the site of the prison and torture chambers for presumed heretics, opponents of the Catholic Church. Visit the San Pedro Claver Convent and Church compound built in the mid-17th century. Cartagena is packed with history, interesting people, boutique shops, fabulous dining options and more that will captivate you.

Day 22
Cartagena, Colombia
None Breakfast

Today you transfer to the Cartagena airport for your flight home.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

  • Adventure
  • Food & Wine
  • Islands & Beaches
  • Wildlife & Nature

Description

Discover the hidden treasures of Quito such as the San Francisco Market, which is one of the oldest markets in the city. Travel by dugout canoe into Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park to encounter extraordinary wildlife and vibrant local culture; and explore Cotopaxi, considered the highest active volcano in the world due to its location and its continuous activity. Discover colonial towns such as Colta, which has the largest population of indigenous Quichua people in the province of Chimborazo; and Ingapirca, where a nearby Inca archeological site represents the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. Tour Colombia’s colonial gems, 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. Take in the coffee country around Armenia, traditional 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

About Us

Since 1973, Big Five has created life-affirming journeys to some 44 destinations worldwide. Our Destination Specialists, award-winning adventures and premier 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance combine to present the journey of a lifetime to individuals, families and small groups. Sustainable travel is at the heart of Big Five. We have seen how the power of travel can change the world for the better. Sustainability benefits both the traveler and the places visited. Whether the focus is cultural, wildlife or adventure, we tailor each journey to the interests of guests traveling in Africa, Asia, Latin America and South Pacific.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Varies. Please inquire.

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Reviews and Recommendations for Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Inc.

100%

of 33
guests
recommend


Virtuoso Verified Traveler

All reviews are from confirmed guests sharing exclusive insights

Sort reviews by

Highly recommend

By: Jsquared


Reviewed on: 15 Oct 2013

In Chengdu our guide, Amanda, went above and beyond her responsibilities and made our stay there the highlight of the tour. We did not go through the locks on the Three Gorges Dam. Apparently the locks were shut down because of wind. However, when we reached the locks there was not even a breath of wind. We will be obliged if you could confirm the reason for the locks being closed,and in future pick a cruise ship that goes through the locks in daylight.
Travel Advisor:  Jodi Fox
  Loading comments. Please wait...

highly recommend

By: Sandy Z


Reviewed on: 02 Nov 2013

We used them for our most recent trip. The arrangements they made were very good. We had a few problems with flight time changes, but each time I emailed them and they were able to confirm the changes and reassure me that we would be picked up at the appropriate time at the other end. THey made good choices for hotels, and the cruise boat down the Amazon was fabulous!!
Travel Advisor:  Birgit Navarre
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Hardworking and experienced tour group

By: Not provided


Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2013

We've used Big Five Tours twice. The first experience had one or two bumps in the outcome but they corrected what could be done at the time and were attentive. We had doubts about their competency and experience but spent time going over the issues with them after the trip. After detailed discussions, we found them to be truly interested and they took our comments seriously. We decided to give them a 2nd chance with another large trip and they did a fabulous job!
Travel Advisor:  Sharon Cooper
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Very Accommodating

By: TGC and MJC


Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2013

Our trip to the the Galapagos Islands and Machi Picchu was fine tuned to our personal needs and time restrictions. The local tour companies in Ecuador (Klein Tours) and Peru (Fiesta Tours) were outstanding. Their staff and guides could not have been better. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Recommend

By: jpriest


Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2014

Travel Advisor:  Patty Calvert

Professional and timely

By: pelisons3


Reviewed on: 12 May 2015

Big Five provided a professional and individualized travel experience for us. Our guides were timely and informative and really seemed to want us to have a hassle free vacation while enjoying the beauty and culture of their country.
Travel Advisor:  Michele Vogel

Ditto previous comments

By: Jim


Reviewed on: 03 Nov 2015

See my other review that contains the same information -- altogether excellent!
Travel Advisor:  Honey Mistry

Thailand Myanmar

By: Been There


Reviewed on: 13 Mar 2016

Had a thoroughly enjoyable 17 day excursion to Bangkok, Amphawa, Chiang Mai, Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake areas. Travel connections were made without complication. Transportation (buses, vans) were comfortable, drivers and assistants were up to the task, Guides were knowledgeable, helpful, flexible, personable and communicated effectively. Accommodations for the most part were in keeping with what we expected. The restaurant in the Baan Amphawa Resort accommodation should not have served us supper as their kitchen was closing. The breakfast meals were good and set one up for the day. The accommodation in the Inle Lake accommodation (Inle Princess Hotel) has very weak internet connection for those needing to receive email. A travel companion had her US dollar cash reserve eliminated as the internet failed and she could not pay by credit card. Their water system pulses and surges giving uneven pressure when washing/showering. Had restful sleep in all hotels.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Ferragine
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Comprehensive trip planners

By: Pamela


Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2016

This was our second trip with Big Five. We also travelled with them in Peru, where we had one guide for 10 days who was one of the most remarkable people we've ever met. This trip included safari, Victoria Falls, and a few days in Cape Town. Our trip had many logistical elements (we are a family of 5) and it went off pretty much without a hitch. We had multiple guides and drivers, all competent and timely, some more expert or personable than others. The safari camps chosen exceeded our needs and expectations. We would do the trip again in a heartbeat.
Travel Advisor:  Ken Neibaur
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Great tours

By: Jax


Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2016

Our vacation to Tanzania, Africa was fantastic. Big Five Tours did not disappoint. We did not know what to expect and they did a great job in every way. The tented camps were more than anyone could have imagined. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
Travel Advisor:  Bill Beckett
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Amazing Company

By: Monica B


Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2016

Working with Ashish and Big Five Tours was a great experience. Every aspect our our tour was outstanding and we would not have changed anything with our itinerary. Ashish took the time to get to know what we wanted and expected and was bang on with everything on our trip.
Travel Advisor:  Sue Pechtel
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Great Tour Company!

By: Holly


Reviewed on: 06 Feb 2017

Everyone was on time and where they said they would be in our itinerary. We had amazing guides and drivers who took such great care of us. I would highly recommend Big Five to my friends and family!
Travel Advisor:  Courtney Regan
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Five

By: Jimbo


Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2017

Very good. Almost everything went off as planned. When there was a problem, a call took care of it. The guide was great: pleasant, knowledgeable and punctual. I would definitely recommend Big Five Tours.
Travel Advisor:  Steve Kuriga
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Uruguay

By: Liz


Reviewed on: 06 Mar 2017

This is our second time using Big Five. We were faced with an emergency situation of coming up with a 10 day itinerary for Uruguay with 2 weeks notice. They came through with a great program at a price point we were comfortable with. The planning and fine tuning was done quickly and efficiently. A great company for a good travel experience.
Travel Advisor:  Natasha Rhodes
  Loading comments. Please wait...

A boundary pushing vacation

By: Jann DH


Reviewed on: 27 Mar 2017

Having never been to Central America, it was important for our family to work with an experienced operator with trusted connections. Our amazing travel advisor Sheila Gallant-Halloran recommended Big Five, and together, we experienced our best vacation ever. Our accommodations were fantastic. While living in the jungle without electricity, waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and rappelling down 100ft waterfalls definitely pushed our personal comfort zones, it was always done within the parameters of safety, fun and new experiences (in addition to push comfort!). Having Gisele and Asheesh thoroughly explain the uniqueness of our vacation choices only added to the excitement upon arriving. The finely-detailed itinerary made for no surprises. Logistically, it was great to have people waiting for to take us to our next destination. Their local contacts Jose and Jannie checked in with us throughout our vacation, making sure all was well. Top marks for another great family vacation.
Travel Advisor:  Sheila Gallant-Halloran
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Good

By: Jimbo


Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2017

Most of our experience with Big Five was good. A couple of times drivers were not there but they recovered quickly. Guide was great. Trip through the canal went very well. Hi light of the trip.
Travel Advisor:  Steve Kuriga

Peru 2017

By: Mark B


Reviewed on: 10 Jun 2017

Another great trip with Big Five - every detail attended to, wonderful guides and destinantions.
Travel Advisor:  Ken Neibaur
  Loading comments. Please wait...

South America

By: Jay


Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2017

We could not fault the Big Five. We travelled to amazing places in Peru and Ecuador over 3 1/2 weeks and were looked after very well all the way. we had good accommodation, excellant guides and very good drivers with comfortable cars which all made for a good holiday.
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Extremely professional and knowledgeable

By: ConstantlyCurious


Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2017

While I still get a bit confused about the role of Big Five vs. the local agencies in Peru (not to mention my personal agent), our overall trip was extremely well managed. The guides were all incredibly knowledgeable, to the point where they could have been professors! Everything was extremely efficient. We always felt like someone was watching out for us - which was important to us in a country where we don't speak the language. And most importantly, we were able to experience some truly amazing things. Thanks for a great trip!
Travel Advisor:  Tisha Neufville

Big Five Tours

By: Neal


Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2017

Excellent.....most impressive was the Tour Guides we experienced throughout the five different Camps we visited. The Camps were well managed and efficient.
Travel Advisor:  Toni Lanfrank
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Great tour provider

By: Neets


Reviewed on: 19 Sep 2017

Big Five made sure our experience was exceptional. Our first experience in Africa was made memorable by Big Five. We were met at the bush plane by Michael our guide and from the minute we left the airstrip we felt safe and secure in his presence. Over the next several days he demonstrated his knowledge of the wildlife and their habits and made our experience a true adventure. He is more than a guide, he is an ambassador for Tanzania and a dedicated conservator of the wildlife resource. We saw and photographed so many different animals and had so much fun with Michael as he has a very developed sense of humour. The rest of our tour with Big Five was to the Ngorongoro Conservation area and was also memorable. Words cannot truly express the experiences provided us by Big Five you have to go there yourself. Big Five live up to their name and reputation and are the professionals they say they are.
Travel Advisor:  Geordie McDonald
  Loading comments. Please wait...

A Little Bit of Heaven

By: bus driver


Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2017

We couldn't have asked for a better experience. We were looked after right off from the start. During the whole trip we felt safe. The staff couldn't have been more accommodating,friendly caring people. The bus driver and myself highly recommend the Big Five to all who want a trip of a lifetime. try them you will never go to another.
Travel Advisor:  Bill Beckett
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Asia

By: Liz


Reviewed on: 11 Nov 2017

Very good. Have used Big Five on three different occasions and they provide an excellent service and itinerary leading to a very satisfying experience.
Travel Advisor:  Natasha Rhodes
  Loading comments. Please wait...

South America

By: big blue


Reviewed on: 04 Dec 2017

Wonderful experience with Big Five. The guides were uniformly excellent, both knowledgeable and very friendly. I would recommend them to anyone thinking of going to South America.
Travel Advisor:  Beth Jenkins
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Patagonia

By: OMM


Reviewed on: 21 Jan 2018

The guides provided by the tour operator were amicable, yet professional. They were there for us all of the time from arrival to departure. Alvin was the best in Santiago. Joaquin was the best en El Cajon del Maipo. Remota Hotel provided great facilities with great guides. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience.
Travel Advisor:  Misty Jones
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Thank you Big Five

By: Frequent Travelers


Reviewed on: 14 Apr 2018

Big Five was awesome! They kept our family busy in Costa Rica with hiking, fishing, zip lining, horseback riding and more. Big Five seemed to have the insight on where to go with the time we had. The tour services booked were wonderful with very kind and knowledgable guides. The accommodations chosen were top notch and our family would love to return one day with Big Five as our event coordinator once again! Thanks Big Five
Travel Advisor:  Jeannie Sauleau
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Excellent Tour Operator

By: Bill


Reviewed on: 02 Jun 2018

Big Five Tours is a great agency to work with in providing on the ground travel experiences. As part of our cruise, we did a pre-cruise to Hong Kong and India and post cruise to Egypt. Via our travel advisor, Clare Isquist, Big Five made it happen. The hotels and guides and the itinerary in country were excellent. No complaints. Their in country representatives were always available to assist if needed and were a great help with plane reservations and airport formalities. Without Big Five we do not think our trip would have been the experience of a lifetime that it was.
Travel Advisor:  Clare Isquith
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Great tour guides and drivers

By: Trendy Traveler


Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2018

We used Big Five for our trip to Peru the end of May 2018. Each of the drivers and guides were so accommodating and knowledgable. Freddie and Erika, our guides in the Urubamba Sacred Valley really bent over backwards for us. Freddie even came all the way back to the train station to deliver my husband's reading glasses that he had left in the car. We had so much fun with them that we got a group picture with them at the end to put in our photo book. I would use Big Five again, but my only complaint is that we had a small issue come up and when we tried to use the "White Glove Service", they did not respond to us. The problem resolved itself, but if it had been a big deal, this would have been very upsetting because we were paying for the service. Otherwise, all was taken care of and we had a great time.
Travel Advisor:  Carol Brant
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Very good... in line with expectations

By: Steve


Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2018

we didn't really have much contact with them... they seemed to help on the itinerary... had a problem with a bag in Arusha and their ground operator Tandela helped with that
Travel Advisor:  Ken Neibaur
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Wow!

By: Happy Hamster


Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2018

I was nervous about going on a photo safari, but we were in very good hands with Big Five. We were met at each stop along the way by courteous and professional representatives even when our flight was 5 hours late on arrival. Our lodging at Kings Camp was the absolute lap of luxury and the guides, trackers and hotel staff were wonderful. We were also pleased with other arrangements at Victoria Falls and Chobe. We saw all of the 'big five' and so much more - birds of every color, animals small and large. I would definitely use them again.
Travel Advisor:  Joan Smith
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Flawless

By: Tom


Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2018

We have done two trips to South/Central America planned by Big Five. Both have been filled with activities and multiple destinations. Big Five provides a detailed itinerary which is flawlessly executed. Representatives are on hand and on time when promised. Reservations are in place and we are welcomed upon arrival. Transportation from jeeps, to rafts, to small planes are in place and on time. Everything comes together perfectly. I'm confident there is a lot of behind the scenes calling and confirming going on during the trip but we just experience the wonder of the locations with no logistical responsibilities or problems. Oh, and the trips themselves have been amazing, activity-filled vacations delivering what we requested and more than we expected!
Travel Advisor:  Mary Jean Thompson
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Great trip

By: sai


Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2018

This was our first time traveling with Big Five. They were very responsive from the planning stage to during the trip. Could not have been better!
Travel Advisor:  Jane Rosenkrantz
  Loading comments. Please wait...

Africa

By: Sunny


Reviewed on: 10 Sep 2018

Very good-all experiences were favorable-tour guides were good and on time and very pleasent
Travel Advisor:  Pam Anderson
  Loading comments. Please wait...