Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ sustainable tourism vision was born in the very heart of the company, and harks back to the beginnings of Big Five in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1973, the founder and CEO, Mahen Sanghrajka, had a dream to share the beauty of Africa that he knew, growing up in Kenya, with small groups of like-minded explorers. Early on, before the idea of ecotourism was even born, he was part of helping to establish a code of ethics for wildlife safaris that included prohibiting smoking while near wildlife and training guides to teach travelers about respectful behavior near wild animals (for example – do not shout at an animal or bang on a vehicle roof top to get their attention to take a photograph). Today, those ideas may seem absurdly obvious, but in the early 1970s in East Africa, they were not.
In 1987, Big Five began taking travelers to the Galapagos Islands, and over the years we have witnessed startling and dramatic changes, as ever bigger cruise ships arrived, reminding us once again that fragile environments, like so many other cherished natural places around the globe, are under siege. That is why we are leaders and advocates for sustainable tourism (Big Five twice won the prestigious Virtuoso Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award, and our Founder, Mahen, has served multiple times as a judge for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards in sustainable tourism best practices.