Custom, Family & Special Interest Trips

We Love A Challenging Brief

We spend much of our time exploring off the beaten trail, both in the areas that we run our scheduled group expeditions, and far beyond. We continually recce new routes and trip ideas, always striving to create truly pioneering adventures and, to develop interesting ideas for bespoke and special interest trips (and production companies for that matter).

We love nothing more than a challenging trip-planning brief. So, whether you want to hunt for Himalayan blue poppies in the wilds of Tibet, photograph esoteric Buddhist festivals in Kham, or join a private expedition to migrate with the eagle hunters of western Mongolia, - just reach out and give us a try.

We promise you two things: an ability to think and deliver outside of the box, and, honesty. If your request falls outside our core area of expertise, we will tell you straight up and try and make an alternative recommendation.

Below, are various themes around which we have designed bespoke adventures in the past, as well as some examples of specific requests and the subsequent trips that we delivered.

Trip Theme: Experience Tibet

"Please could you send me your best idea for a two week cultural adventure through eastern Tibet. November works best. We are only interested in a truly unique and immersive trip". Thanks - Mike.

We pride ourselves on being creative but "truly unique" is hard. So, up for the challenge, I hit the road on a recce trip to explore two festivals that I had heard about on my travels and which seemed to offer the 'one-off' experiences around which I could design a trip. Every so often, with a little luck, you just know when you've hit the jackpot.

And so, in November 2015 the group stayed with Khampa nomads in their large black yak-wool tents and joined them at their annual spiritual festival on the Tibetan grasslands, spent time with a family of renowned Tibetan bronze statue-makers in their remote valley home, and photographed Cham dancers performing in a nearby hilltop village: home to a stunning 12th Century Sakya-sect monastery. And, there, they witnessed one of the most extraordinary of all esoteric tantric rituals  - a Vajrakiyala (Dorje Phurba) sand mandala ceremony. 

Tibetan fire ceremony

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Unique Tibetan festival & Photography Trips by Whistling Arrow

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Tibetan Skeleton Dance

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Trip Theme: Flower-hunting

To be honest, we were not always flowers enthusiasts, but after years of trekking through some of Asia's most pristine epicenters of biodiversity and plant endemism, we are now hooked.

In May 2015, for example, in partnership with the N.Z. Rhododendron Society, we lead a pioneering expedition into the wild borderlands of Burma and Tibet to hunt for new hybrid species of rhododendron ultimately classifying over 100 varieties of flower. In eastern Nepal, we also extensively recced the spectacular Upper Arun Valley, surely home to some of the most primordial rhododendron forest in the world.

Likewise, if 'Alpine' flowers are your thing, the mountain valleys, lakes and carpeted grasslands of western China are unrivalled in terms of the variety and multitude of flowers. To showcase this floral beauty, we organize private expeditionary treks to discover  'hidden' botanical sanctuaries or - for more sedentary enthusiasts - road trips that gently explore more accessible hotspots. The possibilities are almost limitless.

2015 Rhododendron Explorer.pdf

File size: 1.12 MB

Download a report by Gordon Bailey, of our rhododendron flower-hunting expedition in northern Yunnan published by the N.Z. Rhododendron Society.

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Trip Theme: Photography

Here at Whistling Arrow, we love nothing more than to document and photograph ethnographic festivals that are integral to the culture and identity of the region's indigenous communities.

We pride ourselves, in particular, on our deep local knowledge of the various Tibetan festivals that take place annually in Yunnan, Sichuan and other parts of eastern Tibet. These usually include ritualized Cham dancing, wild horse-racing events and esoteric Vajrayana Buddhist ceremonies. In June 2016, for example, we created a custom photography trip for an Australian group to document a seldom-seen masked dance festival near Tagong.

Other private trips that we have designed include an expedition in eastern Tibet to specifically photograph the elusive Himalayan blue poppy, an immersive photography trip with the eagle-hunters of western Mongolia and - perhaps most incredibly - a private trip to visit the Stone Korowai tribe in West Papua, Indonesia.

 

Trip Theme: Family Adventures

The idea that you need to stop embarking on new adventures when you have a family is nonsensical to us. Obviously, safety is always paramount, but one thing is clear - you're probably not going to broaden a child's horizons a great deal sat around a pool at the Hyatt.

We have tailored multiple family trips in the past, including hiking trips to Yunnan and Nepal, but two or our custom family adventures stand out. Firstly, our unique private sea safaris in Coron, northern Palawan (Philippines) where every year we design a number of 5 to 6 day island-hopping trips for families, on board our private outrigger, to explore the stunning karst outcrops and tropical island beaches of one of Asia's most spectacular archipeligos.

Secondly, we also design and manage several private family adventures every year in the Altai mountains of western Mongolia, home to the fabled eagle hunters. The trips are an amazing combination of wilderness hiking, horse-riding (optional), ger-stays and comfortable camping. Oh, and a family-stay with the eagle hunters of course. Get in touch today - we are always happy to share our best ideas.

 

Mongolia Family Adventure.pdf

File size: 1.44 MB

Review a previous trip template of one of the many family trips we have designed in the Altai mountains of western Mongolia - the land of the eagle hunters.

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Some Past Custom Trip Examples