Get ready to be enchanted by the captivating beauty and rich traditions of Bali and Sumba. Our itinerary has been carefully crafted to take you on a 12-day adventure that will immerse you in two of the most awe-inspiring (yet completely different) rituals of these islands: the Melasti and the Pasola. Additionally, we will explore authentic markets, villages, and celebrations, and get unique and intimate access to locations where you will meet the people involved in these rituals. With our local teams guiding you every step of the way, you will have a unique opportunity to witness these ancient rituals up close and personal.

The Melasti is a sacred cleansing ceremony that takes place on Bali’s stunning beaches, where locals gather to purify themselves and offer prayers to the gods.

In Sumba, you will experience the Pasola, a thrilling ritual that involves ancient horseback battles and games between rival clans. The Pasola is a celebration of courage, strength, and tradition, and it will leave you breathless with its intensity and beauty. Get your high-speed-shooting or slow-motion cameras ready.

As you explore these magical lands, you will be transported to a world of vivid colors, exotic food, and soulful music.

The local team as well as your tour leader Patrick Firouzian will lead you on a journey that will be both insightful and inspiring. Local photography and anthropology experts will share the meaning of these rituals so you not only get beautiful images, but also learn about the history and tradition behind them. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise will ensure that you leave with a deeper understanding of the region’s people, traditions, and the region’s beauty, and our time together as a group will leave you with a stronger foundation in the art of photography.

NOTE: Although we have scouted this trip multiple times and chosen accommodations and transport, this will be the first trip with guests in a region where we sometimes have to improvise on the itinerary, mostly because of ritual scheduling.

We will be walking on sand, often under the sun, and navigating complex rituals where we need to be inconspicuous, quick, and unobtrusive. We, therefore, require you to be nimble, have a good command of the camera, and respectfully approach people and crowds.


Day 1 (Mar 6):
Arrival in Denpasar, Bali’s international airport. You will be picked up and transported to our resort for a meet and greet, orientation, and dinner. You will have the opportunity to meet our local cultural expert and cultural guide, renowned expert Yan Gunayasa, as well as Sandy Wijaya and his team, who will accompany us throughout the journey. Rest early for an early departure the next day. Overnight in Ubud.

Day 2 (Mar 7):
Early departure for our first Melasti experience. We will have three sessions with this ritual, allowing us to build a story, refine our technical and artistic style, and appreciate the beauty of the event. The Melasti ceremony involves worshippers carrying sacred objects to the beach for purification. Participants may enter a trance-like state, connecting with spirits and ancestors for blessings and guidance. We will immerse ourselves in the ceremonies, receive orientation, technical guidance, and event briefings. Early dinner and rest for an early start the next day. Overnight in Ubud.

Day 3 (Mar 8):
We’ll attend our second day of Melasti in another beach location. Today, we can focus on capturing connections with the people, portraiture, details, and the vibrant atmosphere of the event. In the afternoon, we will retreat to the hotel for editing and engage in artistic, cultural, and technical discussions. Overnight in Ubud.

Day 4 (Mar 9):
We’ll head out early this morning and get ready to enjoy the final day of Melasti, capturing the rituals in beautiful sunrise lighting. After breakfast, we’ll transfer hotels. In the afternoon, we will visit the traditional Tenganan Village in Karangasem for portraiture in a private setting. Here, you will have the opportunity to practice portraiture at your own pace, with our coaching as needed. Early return for dinner and rest. Overnight in Karangasem.

Day 5 (Mar 10):
In the morning, we will witness Usaba Dodol, a unique cultural event that celebrates the agricultural and farming traditions of the local community. This event typically involves various rituals, performances, and processions, showcasing the artistic skills, traditions, and social bonds of the community. In the afternoon, we will attend Lukat Geni, a ceremony held a few days before Nyepi (the Balinese New Year and Day of Silence). Lukat Geni involves a procession to cleanse and purify sacred objects, accompanied by traditional music, dances, and prayers. Overnight in Karangasem.

Day 6 (Mar 11):
Nyepi Day, also known as the Day of Silence, is a significant cultural observance in Bali. On this day, we will stay in our hotel and take the opportunity for self-reflection, meditation, and purification. We will review and discuss our experiences and images. Overnight in Karangasem.

Day 7 (Mar 12):
Today we will fly to Sumba Island, known for its raw beauty and ancient culture. After checking in and having lunch, we will visit local villages for portraits and immerse ourselves in the unique culture of Sumba. Sumba Island is a place where time seems to stand still, where rolling hills and sprawling savannas create a breathtaking backdrop for traditional villages. Thatched-roof huts and towering megalithic tombs transport you back in time, revealing the island’s rich history preserved for centuries. Locals adorned in intricately woven fabrics and tribal tattoos welcome you with warm hospitality, inviting you to delve into the heart of their traditions. Every corner of Sumba Island is infused with a deep sense of spirituality and reverence. In traditional villages, witness a way of life that has remained unchanged for generations. The intricate weavings of the Sumbanese people, their vibrant patterns and elaborate designs, tell stories of their cultural heritage and deep-rooted traditions. We will immerse in the island’s vibrant festivals and rituals. The Pasola festival, with its exhilarating spear-throwing competition, showcases the island’s warrior culture and leaves you captivated by its intensity and spectacle. Witness the Nyale Rite, where shamans search for nyale worms emerging from the sea, a symbol of good fortune and blessings. Capture the horse-mounted warriors engaged in the Pasola ceremony, a powerful display of bravery and communal harmony. As a photographer, Sumba Island offers a rich tapestry of colors, textures, and moments waiting to be immortalized through your lens. From the timeless traditions of its people to the awe-inspiring landscapes and captivating festivals, Sumba Island will ignite your creativity and awaken your senses. Overnight in West Sumba.

Day 8 (Mar 13):
The highlight of the day is the Pasola festival, a traditional spear-throwing competition between rival clans. This colorful event showcases local culture and customs, with participants dressed in traditional attire riding horses and hurling wooden spears. We will capture stunning action images of the horses and riders, while ensuring our safety. Overnight in West Sumba.

Day 9 (Mar 14):
In the morning, we will witness the Nyale Rite, where shamans search for nyale worms emerging from the sea, believed to bring good fortune and blessings. Following this event, horsemen will practice the Pasola ritual on the beach, providing further opportunities for capturing captivating images. In the afternoon, we will attend the real Pasola ceremony, where two groups of horse-mounted warriors engage in mock battles. We will observe from a safe distance using long lenses. The Pasola ceremony represents bravery, resolves conflicts, and maintains communal harmony. Overnight in West Sumba.

Day 10 (Mar 15):
In the morning, we will explore a local market in Sumba, immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds, and flavors of daily life on the island. You can even try betel nut, a popular local stimulant if you’re feeling adventurous. In the afternoon, we will head to the airport for our return flight to Bali and check into our hotel. Overnight in Ubud.

Day 11 (Mar 16):
We will drive north to a secluded village to meet and take portraits of a legendary Legong dancer. After lunch, we will continue our portrait shoot, focusing on the dance’s meaning and movements. The Legong dance is one of the island’s most revered classical pieces, known for its physically demanding postures and fast-paced movements. Back at the hotel we can relax and prepare for our farewell dinner, where we can also share and discuss our images. Overnight in Ubud.

Day 12 (Mar 17):
Today the trip officially finishes – you can continue to experience the beauty of Bali or return home (airport drop-off).