Bhutan | Gangtey

Gangtey Nature Trail – Black Necked Cranes

Embrace Bhutan Cultural Tour

Gangtey | Bhutan

11 Nov 2019 | Mon

Day 05 of 13

  • Drive – Punakha to Gangtey
  • Tea at Hotel Kuenphen Norbuding Restaurant
  • Lawa La Pass
  • Picnic Lunch Near Gangtey Monastery
  • Gangtey Nature Trail – Black Necked Cranes
  • Black-Necked Crane Education Center
  • Wangchuk Dem Village Homestay Gangtey

Gangtey Nature Trail – Black Necked Cranes

Afternoon enjoy the short walk through Gangtey Nature Trail (1½ hours), which leads downhill from Gangtey Monastery to the Khewang Lhakhang (temple). The trail descends to Semchubara village and drops down right at the chorten (stupa) into the edge of the forest, along the side of Phobjikha valley, ideal for spotting the cranes.

Embrace Bhutan Travel

Earlier in the day (before lunch) we got to admire the beautiful far-away views of Phobjikha Valley from our awesome picnic vista near Gangteng Monastery.

High Side of Phobjikha Valley
Gangtey Nature Trail Follows Left SIde of the Valley

Gangtey Nature Trail Map

After lunch, we got to visit those views up close with a hike on Gangtey Nature Trail. Our weather was perfect, with deep blue skies with bright white clouds sprinkled throughout.

Gangtey Nature Trail Map

Vast Green Meadows and Farmland

The beginning of the trail was a short distance from our picnic area. It began with a gradual descent through a clearing surrounded by large pine trees. When we reached the bottom of the first section, to our left was a series of vast green meadows and farmland that span all the way to the edge of the mountains (a beautiful sight).

Vast Green Meadows and Farmland

We continued walking on a dirt road path that followed through Semchubara Village where the farmland setting continued (with beautiful farmhouses, rustic barns, cows on pasture land, unique rock walls separating land plots, community stupas, and prayer flags). We crossed a few streams that flowed openly across the road path.

Overlooking Semchubara Village
Open Creek Flowing by Prayer Flag Display
Community Stupa in Model of Path

Dense Pine Forest To Overlook

Once we reached the end of the village area, the trail transitioned into a dense pine forest. This section was very peaceful and quiet.

Gangtey Nature Trail Going Dense Pine Forest

Over time the trail started following the edge of the forest where we could catch glimpses of the magnificent Phobjikha Valley below. We continued walking until the trail opened up into an impressive observation point overlooking the Phobjikha Valley (small covered sitting area and large prayer flag display).

Black-Necked Cranes Observation Point
Beautiful View Overlooking Black-Necked Cranes Marsh Habitat

This was the first viewing area of the famous black-necked cranes. This valley is very wide, and the cranes tend to be located in the center (creek/marsh areas) so a good pair of high-powered binoculars are needed to see the black-necked cranes.

Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan are winter visitors during late October to mid-February to the Phobjikha Valley as well as Ladakh, India, and Arunachal Pradesh, India. They arrive from the Tibetan Plateau, where they breed in the summer. They visit the Phobjikha Valley in large numbers, which is a declared protected area for the cranes, and also to other valleys in smaller numbers in central and eastern Bhutan.

The black-necked cranes arrive in this valley in late October and depart in mid February. They feed on the particular type of dwarf bamboos that grow in the wetlands of the valley. The thick grasslands of wetlands are also grazing grounds for a large number of cattle and horses during the summer months that helps the growth of the tender bamboo shoots on which the cranes feed later during the winter season.

This crane species is legally protected in Bhutan and its hunting is prohibited.

– Wikipedia Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan

After spending time at the black-necked crane’s observation point, the group continued on the Gangtey Nature Trail, following along the edge of the valley. This part of the trail provides many opportunities for taking photos of the amazing Phobjikha Valley.

Gangtey Nature Trail Continuing Along Side of Valley
Beautiful Stupa Overlooking Valley
Beautiful Glacial Phobjikha Valley
Look Back at Stupa on Edge of the Valley

Once we reached the bottom of the valley, we were near the end of the trail. This area is used as farmland and has many cows grazing about. In some spots, the ground is very marsh-like (with small creeks and streams) and required wooden walkways to cross.

Once we reached the end, our van and driver were waiting to pick us all up. We now take a short ride across the street to visit Black-Necked Crane Education Center.

Crossing Marsh Are at End of Gangtey Nature Trail
Taking A Wooden Sidewalk Over a Few Creeks to Get to Our Van

Gangtey Nature Trail

Map – Gangtey Nature Trail

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