Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Escaping Into The Wilds: Eastern Tibet (2017)
Here at Whistling Arrow, our aim is straightforward; to build a dynamic portfolio of truly extraordinaryAsia-based adventures. All uniquely designed, and personally hosted, our annual small group expeditions are defined by a never-ending quest to unearth singularly special journeys that, for the most part, you won't find anywhere else.
We also craft customised trips for more intrepid private groups and families, with an emphasis on getting back to nature (think one-of-a kind glamping trips with the eagle hunters of the Altai for example), and design bespoke photographic adventures in collaboration with Nat Geo's Anthony Lau.
Given the ongoing situation with COVID, we have limited the number of trips in 2022; scheduling only two expeditions to destinations (Mongolia and Bhutan) in which we are most confident of minimising operational risk. So, if you are longing for some adventure (I know I am), please delve into our site, and get in touch with any questions you may have.
Our scheduled (and continually evolving) annual expeditions are open for everyone to join, and displayed here in chronological order. Each of these expeditions will also be limited to just 5 guests, and personally hosted and led by our founder, Adrian Bottomley. We understand though, that these fixed departure dates may not work for everyone. So, for other private, pre-arranged groups, we are happy to try and arrange similar customised expeditions to suit your alternative dates.
* Please note that for 2022, we have decided to offer only a limited number of trips to destinations with a relatively low operational risk profile. We also need to block much of the calendar to run a number of postponed private client trips. Fingers crossed, by 2023, we will be able to offer a full schedule once again. *
TREK ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE | ZANSKAR
Join an epic expedition as we explore a pioneering route to traverse the spectacular Himalayan valleys of Pangi & Dharlang, before descending into the mythical land of Zanskar in Ladakh.
Developments in the region (although improving) remain unpredictable, and so definitive trip planning is still difficult. As such, we have designed a number of adventure trip templates that are immediately ready to launch as soon as we verify any actionable announcements on non-restrictive travel arrangements from any of those destinations in which are able to deliver seriously special (as well as safe, and relatively seamless) trips. To date, these include provisional plans for Japan, Kamchatka, Nepal, Qinghai, Sichuan, Sikkim, Taiwan, and Yunnan.
* These plans will be re-active, and launch at relatively short notice, so please stay up to date with any trip developments either by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on instagram, facebook or linkedin. *
We are also provisionally planning at least one intoxicating recce-style expedition to explore the remoter corners of either Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan or Tajikistan. These will largely be by invite only, but for any experienced adventurers out there, who may not have trekked with us before, but are nevertheless keen to find out more about these 'unscripted' adventures, please do get in touch and we can arrange a call to discuss further.
We also specialize in building highly customized private trips for more intrepid famililes and groups of friends, as well as pre-arranged groups with special interests in the region; those of you interested in hunting for rare flowers, spotting snow leopards, or photographing esoteric Tibetan festivals perhaps? Some of our custom trips (but obviously not those that depend on a specific seasonality) can also be designed and delivered at relatively short notice, due to our extensive experience in operating in various locations.
* For individual clients with a sensible budget, I (Adrian) am also available to host discreet one-on-one (or perhaps an exclusive group of two or three) adventures for those of you that may prefer a highly-personal, private-guided trip. *
Ignore the little voice in your head that can list a a dozen reasons why you can't go. If you choose to not go often enough, eventually you'll wonder where all the time went!
You'll Be In Good, Safe Hands
Writer & Global Trekker Extraordinaire, New York.
As a veteran of 15 guided treks, including 10 in the Himalaya, I know exactly what makes for a top-notch trekking leader. Adrian at Whistling Arrow checks all the boxes, in terms of safety, knowledge, leadership, friendly service, cultural sensitivity, and more. One essential in leading expeditionary-style treks is flexibility, for something is bound to go awry. On my trek with Adrian, he showed that he could quickly adapt to changing conditions and client needs, making for a stellar adventure. If you're looking for a full-service company to guide you in western China, eastern Tibet, Mongolia and the greater Himalaya, Whistling Arrow is a wise choice.
Our two weeks in Mongolia's Altai Highlands was truly spectacular. The landscape, the nature and the people together made this a trip of a lifetime. Most importantly, none of this would have been possible without Adrian and his team at Whistling Arrow. Both planning and execution were spot on. Our route had been carefully thought through and as we trekked over some of the most stunning landscape we were well looked after at all times. Adrian's own hands-on approach also made the trip special. He was a great guide and companion over our days together. Of course the key question is "would you do it again or a similar trip (with Whistling Arrow) and the emphatic answer is YES.
I joined a Whistling Arrow bespoke trek to Western Nepal in 2019. Going in, I had high expectations having read the reviews of Adrian‘s adventures in Asia, but they were exceeded. Adrian has an excellent manner as an expedition leader - he is in control, but does not need to remind his clients he is ultimately in charge. It is clear that despite his relaxed demeanour, he is a true professional . He also lets events take their course. His connections on the ground were also first class, and his team were all highly motivated and hard working. I have every intention of joining one of his trips again. It was a 10 / 10 experience.
We arranged a fabulous two week custom adventure to western Mongolia with Adrian at Whistling Arrow and, in short, can thoroughly recommend it. Any fears that our children (7, 14 and 16) would find it tough, or uninteresting,were immediately dispelled by the sheer beauty of the landscape, the friendliness of our guides, and the hospitality of the nomadic families we stayed with. We experienced a unique family adventure, while at the same time feeling completely safe and well looked after. Adrian spent time with us before the trip to find out what we were looking for in the holiday, and to ensure that all our questions were addressed. His team on the ground were exceptional, and even though things didn’t always go exactly to plan, we adapted quickly and without drama. A real adventure and we are very much looking forward to the next one!
Head of Oxford University Alumni, Greater China, Hong Kong
I was looking for an out-of-the-ordinary adventure both for an invigorating immersion in nature - no mobile signals for a week! - as well as a memorable and challenging trip for a group of alumni wanting to raise funds for the Bodleian China Centre library at Oxford. Adrian and his team did a great job in guiding us up to breathless high passes and down through gorgeous valleys as we trekked around this spectacular pilgrimage route before finding our way back to a forgotten world of hot showers and soft beds.
I joined Whistling Arrow's botanical expedition in 2018 to explore the pristine wilderness of the Gaoligong Shan. I had originally met Adrian in Nepal in 2015, and back then was impressed by his passion for unearthing unique expeditionary-style adventures. I have subsequently found that he is indeed a true explorer, with a genuine desire to share the wilderness with others. He is a very affable, positive and enjoyable man to be around, experienced in remote areas, and I consider him at this point to be a friend, one whom I trust completely, and with whom I want to continue to explore. Thank you for including me in this amazingly diverse and beautiful trip, and in particular for fulfilling a lifelong dream to see the rare Himalayan Takin.
I wanted to say a huge thank-you, both for everything you did to organise our wonderful trip and for being such a great companion on the journey itself. It really was a terrific experience – thoroughly enjoyable and challenging in equal measure – but at the same time very obvious that a vast amount of organisation had been needed, which all worked out perfectly. You were reassurance and geniality itself throughout and, if there were times when you might have been concerned about how things would work out, you did not show it at all. Thank-you so much for everything. And roll on the next trip...
My partner and I have been on many treks in recent years, - however the expedition that we embarked on with Adrian and Whistling Arrow in western Mongola surpassed them all. It was a real privilege to discover such a remote and unexplored part of the world - and we literally didn't see one other tourist the whole time we were there. Adrian had also thought of our every need - the tents were comfortable, the food was excellent and the scenery was just awesome. Can’t wait for our next Whistling Arrow adventure, wherever that may take us.
Our last custom expedition in western Mongolia was featured in the Fortnum & Mason adventure journal! (click on image to view).
Our expedition teams are typically diverse and international, brought together by a collective spirit of discovery and adventure. Often relative strangers at the outset - without fail they finish a close-knit bunch: the result of shared challenges, unique experiences and good old-fashioned fun.
Is that a snow leopard up there?
Are my stirrups short enough Mum?
Who talked me into this again?
Wow, how heavy did you say she was?
Who said it never snows in September?
Anyone for a Tibetan massage?
Join An Expedition
Please note that you can also review more preliminary information about insurance, booking conditions and what to bring, by clicking on the button below.