The eastern Tibetan region of Kham, historically renowned for its fierce warriors and enlightened sages, has for centuries been more accessible to intrepid travellers than the holy city of Lhasa which lies far to the west.
Nowadays, Kham also incorporates large swathes of modern-day Yunnan and Sichuan, which are open to western travellers without the hassle of having to apply for a Tibetan permit.
Since the 18th century, the monasteries of Kham have been the epicenter of Tibetan cultural and religious traditions and, if you know where and when to visit, still offer a fascinating window into a world of esoteric tantric festivals and age old nomadic customs.
Last year, Adrian Bottomley, founder of Asian adventure specialist, Whistling Arrow, explored this remote and spectacular region of western China to document several seldom-seen ritualized dance and horse racing festivals.
While many of these annual cultural events remain rather opaque to outsiders – because the dates have to both reference the Tibetan calender and be sanctioned by local lamas – Whistling Arrow is offering custom, private trips in 2017 for any pre-arranged groups that may be interested in experiencing such a unique cultural adventure.