BLACK NECKED CRANE FESTIVAL – 8 DAYS
The Black-necked Crane Festival is a one-day event celebrated at the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa in Phobjikha valley in Wangduephodrang District each year on 11th November. The festival is an occasion for the locals to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of Black-necked Cranes, revered as the heavenly birds. The festival is an occasion for the locals to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part of their daily lives during the winter months. The annual black-necked crane festival is organized to generate awareness and understanding of the importance of conserving the endangered Black-Necked Cranes.
Day 1: Arrive Paro – Thimphu
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it’s possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well. Upon arrival in Paro, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. You can then tour the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the Dzong. It now houses a collection of fine arts, paintings, thangkas, statues, and antiques. Afterward, you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. Later drive to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu
Day 2: Thimphu
After breakfast, you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built-in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Buddha Point, Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), and the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, the majestic Tashichodzong. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). And drive for about 12 km and from the road, point takes a walk across the rice fields and a river to reach the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang. It houses the paintings and statues belonging to the Nyingmapa tradition. Visit Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish. overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha – Gangtey
You will begin the day by driving to Gangtey. You’ll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gangtey village, where you’ll visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjikha Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. Overnight Hotel in Gangtey.
Day 5: Attend Black Neck Crane festival
Today you will attend the Black-Necked Crane Festival. The Black-Necked Crane Festival is an annual event celebrated at the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha valley. It features many cultural programs such as folk songs and dances (some with black-necked crane themes) and mask dances performed by the local people, crane dances, and environmental conservation-themed dramas and songs by school children.
There will also be enough time for you to view the Black Necked Cranes, visit the Information Centre and enjoy some of the many nature trails throughout the valley. overnight hotel in Gangtey.
Day 6: Gangtey – Paro
Explore the Phobjikha (Bhutan’s most beautiful valley) and also visit the Education Center, which is being looked after by the Royal Society of Protection of Nature (RSPN). Then start driving to Paro, en-route visit the Wangdi Town and the nearby villages are famous for stone and slate carvings. Few kilometers from the town you can also view Bhutan’s most unique village, Rinchengang. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 7: Hike Paro Taksang
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the cafeteria).
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. The original monument (destroyed by fire in 1951) was built by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 8: Depart Paro
Drive to the Airport for the departure.