In the month of November, the Black-Necked Cranes fly to the valley of Phobjikha for winter. Early in the month, several cranes have arrived already. Phobjikha is the largest and important alpine wetland in Bhutan, at 3000 meters above sea level.
The Black-Necked Crane Festival is organized by the government, which coincides with the birthday of His Majesty the King Druk Gyalpo. The festival is celebrated in the courtyard of Gangtey Goempa in the Phobjikha Valley. The day before the festival, tourist vans arrive and all homestays fully booked. The town comes to life. At the festival, it is the best time to buy local honey and cheese
1 – 3 days for the festival, camping, and day trek
Phobjikha is a large valley and the road is bumpy with potholes. The drive takes more than 1 hour from the other end of the valley. Homestays in Phobjikha are well-developed but with simple amenities. Tourism only makes up a tiny portion of the villagers’ annual income.
The drive from Bumthang to Phobjikha took almost a day with pit stops. Arrived in Phobjikha at 8 pm, the valley is dark, and dogs barking from distance. Without street lights and driving off the paved road, we finally arrived at the homestay. Suja, butter tea, is the best to warm up the body after a long ride. The mother made the best butter tea. She also cooked all delicious food and at my request, she made Shakam paa, dried beef cooked in radish and chillis. The homestay owns Tangchey Gonpa that traces back several generations who built this temple.
Tip: If you travel independently, consider the distance from your guesthouse to Gangtey Goempa.
Phobjikha- Black-Necked Crane Festival
The festival begins at 9 am. Locals pack their lunch, thermal water, and mats arrive in the Goempa. Most of the villagers have already picked their best spots when the event begins. The event lasts almost half-day. Chairs, snacks, and tea provide to foreigners that include in the ticket price. But you don’t always get the great seat for photographs.
Even in November, the farms are still green in the valley. You can still see potato, cabbage, and radish farms. If you have got only few hours in the valley? You can walk to the white prayer flags; it’s in the center of the valley. You will spot them.
- Shingkhar – Abode of Peace in Central Bhutan
- Phobjikha- Black-Necked Crane Festival
- 5 Ways to Experience Bhutan’s Culture