Robin Smillie of Tampa, Florida is a professional photographer who
specializes in adventure tours to Bhutan for small groups. By staying small
and focusing on Bhutan, he has become known in the travel business as THE
expert on travel to Bhutan—as of September 2014 he has been to Bhutan 27 times
and assisted over 500 travelers in realizing their dreams of going to the
world's last Shangri La. Robin supplies the Bhutanese Tourism Authority, the
Ministry of Culture and Royal Druk Air with photography and stories for
their publications. Bhutan is the only destination that Robin leads tours to but he travels the world extensively with his wife Cathy.
Robin is also a retired masthead staff member of Florida Sportsman Magazine,
the largest regional outdoor magazine in the country.
While with Sportsman Robin wrote and photographed feature and travel
stories that covered the Tropics from Central America to the Bahamas. Twenty
two of Sportsman’s 12 annual issues featured his photography on the
cover. He was also the founder and Director of the Florida Sportsman
Fishing and Boat Shows, managing 105 shows over 15 years. Robin has
won 22 awards for his writing and photography from Outdoor Writers of America,
Southeast Outdoor Press Assoc., and Florida Outdoor Writers Assoc.
In April of 2001, Robin and wife Cathy went on a six-week tour of Viet
Nam, Nepal, Thailand—and the most special place on the planet, Bhutan.
The photo ops there were spectacular! Their tour operator was Rainbow Tours
and Treks of Bhutan, one of the oldest and most reliable companies in the
business, and they struck a deal to publish calendars and postcards from
Robin’s photography, some of which you will see on this site.
Rainbow Photo Tours was launched in May of 2001, specifically to take
like-minded photographers on tour to Bhutan. In April of 2002, the
first group of eleven photographers from around the world (U.S., Macao,
Singapore, Japan, and Australia) met in Bangkok, and the first annual photographer’s
Tour of Bhutan spent two weeks following the same jam-packed itinerary
that you see listed for the current tours. (Please
read Past Participant Comments on the Participant Gallery pages.)
This tour is a gold mine of itinerary nuggets not found with other tours:
Along with numerous visits to temples, dzongs, markets, and other standard
tourist fare, this tour offers several unique opportunities.
Travel in a car—not a bus—with only one other participant (your spouse
or another single?) a Bhutanese guide and driver.
Each pair of travelers has their own driver and personal photography
assistant or cultural guide.
Customize your tour to suit your interests and health restrictions—with
your own car and guide you can usually go where you want aside from the
Attend a special masked dance mini festival in the remote village of
Phongmey, held just for our tour.
Participate in an archery tournament with local farmers.
After blessing by a Buddhist monk, string your own prayer flags in a high mountain pass.
Visit Bhutanese families in their farmhouses.
Take a hot stone bath at our hotel in Paro and Jakar.
Gain entrance and photo permission to many places where most tourists do not go.
Extend your tour or arrive early with customized itineraries--perhaps a better choice than a visit to neighboring Nepal, Myanmar or Tibet.
Bhutan Cultural Tour for Photographers - Video
Produced by Rainbow Photo Tours
We accept all skill
levels of photographers, from those who have a "point-and-shoot" to
those who are advanced pro/amateurs with all the latest digital SLR gear. Our
goal is to put you in front of remarkable scenes and cultural experiences--this
is not a workshop with evening photography meetings or critiques. Travelers
who are not keenly interested in photography will have plenty to do, always
with guides and drivers at your disposal.
Mimi's Story "I went on
this trip strictly to keep my photography-crazed husband company and had
a fabulous adventure. Where else could I have climbed to Tiger's Nest,
participated in an archery competition, danced around a campfire, been
dressed in a gorgeous kira and met amazing people? Armed only with my trusty
point-and-shoot camera, I still managed to get some photos that make me
~ Mimi Krystel, 2009 Tour Participant (click
here to see Mimi's Photos)
“Even though the roads are rough, and a little hair-raising at times, the drivers are obviously well experienced professionals, safe, courteous and capable. " —TripAdvisor Review of Rainbow Photo Tours