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Phobjikha Valley
Phobjikha Valley
Phobjikha Valley and Gangtey village are situatetd east of Punakha and northeast of Wangduephodrang.
130 km and a 5 hours drive from Thimphu lies Phobjikha Valley at an elevation of 9,500 feet (3000 m).

On the drive into the valley you can encounter the historic Gangtey Goempa monastery built in the 17th century. Situated on a prominent hilltop, this Monasterythat is the home of the Gangtey Tulku, a highly respected reincarnate lama, dominates the scenery.

Phobjikha is a wide, beautiful alpine wetland valley where the Black Necked Cranes fly down from Tibet to spend the winter. These majestic birds are some of only 5000 left in the world today.

The hill side vegetation is mostly pine forests, interspersed with Rhododendron trees, with thick brush-like bamboo carpeting the floor.

East of Punakha, the road passes through the colourful village of Wangdue Phodrang and climbs past deep ravines with dizzying drops to the little visited, picturesque valley of Phobjikha, home to the quaint rural settlement of Gangtey.

Gangtey Gompa
Gangtey Village and Gangtey Gompa
The Gangtey Gompa is lying at an altitude of 3000 m about 50 km east of Wangdue Phodrang.

Gangtey Gompa, an old Monastery dating back to the 17th Century can be visited. From 2005 to 2006 the Gompa is under renovation.

A few kilometres past the Gompa is the valley where black necked cranes make their home in the winter migrating down from the arid plains of Tibet to spend the cold season in a milder and lower climate.

Potatoes are the main cash crop in the valley Gangtey Goemba (under renovation)
Phobjikha Valley: Potato fields
At an elevation of 3,000 metres on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, Phobjikha is one of Bhutan's few glacial valleys.

A designated conservation area, it is winter home of the endangered black-necked crane. The quaint village is dominanted by the 16th century Gangtey Goemba, which includes a school, meditation facilities and quarters for monks, and is home to the mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, one of the region's historically important Buddhist treasure discoverers.

A stay in the Phobjikha Valley begins with a stroll through the Gangtey village before visiting the ancient altars and ramparts of the massive Goemba.

Phobjikha Valley

Numerous nature walks and treks are offered by the seemingly endless expanse of valley, some winding through miniature forests of dwarf bamboo and across a trout filled brook. Throughout the winter, the reclusive black-necked cranes can be viewed from the nearby Crane Centre or a viewing hide situated near their main nesting and feeding grounds.

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Black Necked Cranes

In Bhutan the Black Necked crane locally known as the Thrung Thrung Karm is deeply revered as a heavenly bird and a harbinger of good luck. The crane appears in Bhutanese folklore, songs, dances and historical references.

Of an average height of 1.5 metre with a distinctive black neck, and a life span of 70 to 80 years, the cranes feed on plant roots and tubers on wetlands and shores of lakes and ponds.

They breed in northern Tibet in the summer and make the journey to Bhutan and the Indian states of Arunchal Pradesh and Ladakh between October to January for the winter and leave by March and April. The Phobjikha valley in Wangduephodrang is another roosting area for the cranes in Bhutan.

Once abundant in parts of China, Bhutan and India, black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) numbers have dwindled in recent decades, and, as a result, have been listed on the IUCN red list of endangered species. It is estimated that there are only 5,000-6,000 cranes left in the wild. The wetlands of Bhutan and southern Tibet are the wintering sites of these birds, while northern Yunnan and the eastern part of Ladakh in India serve as their breeding grounds.

With only 6,000 cranes left in the world the birds are listed as an endangered species. In 1998 the Royal Society for Protection of Nature and the International Crane Foundation (ICF) USA, collared four cranes with radio bands to study their migration route.

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