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Bhutan Black Necked Crane Festival Tour is an invigorating trip that takes us to the major towns of Bhutan such as Thimphu, Punakha and Paro. Moreover, we take part in the celebration of the Black Necked Crane festival in Gangtey. Celebrating the festival together with the locals will let us experience Bhutan’s rich culture firsthand. We begin our trip with sightseeing tours of Thimphu followed by Punakha. The lhakhangs (temples), dzongs (fortresses) and many cultural sites gives us glimpses of Bhutan’s traditions. The highlight of our 8-day tour is the black-necked crane festival in Gangtey. The celebration takes place in the courtyard of the Gangtey Monastery. The fiesta is actually organized to generate awareness about the endangered black-necked cranes. This is done in a fun way with a lot of folk-song singing and masked dancing.
On our Bhutan Black-Necked Crane Festival Tour we also embark on a small hike in Gangtey. We then drive to Paro and hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which is perhaps the most venerated monastery in Bhutan.
|Day 01 Paro to Thimphu||2,320m/7,612ft|
|Day 02 Sightseeing in Thimphu||2,320m/7,612ft|
|Day 03 Thimphu to Punakha||1,250m/4,101ft|
|Day 04 Punakha to Gangtey||2,900m/9,515ft|
|Day 05 Gangtey: black necked crane festival||2,900m/9,515ft|
|Day 06 Gangtey to Paro||2,250m/7,382ft|
|Day 07 Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery||3,180m/10,434ft||4-5 hrs|
|Day 08 Final departure||-|
As our flight nears Bhutan, we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier. Next, we drive to Thimphu, on a road that leads through the Paro Valley to the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers. Three different styles of Chortens adorn the confluence. A short way beyond on the left is the Tachogang Lhakhang built in the 15th century by Thangthong Gyelpo, a trader who first introduced iron bridges in Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu.
In the morning, we visit the Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the nunnery temple, and the mini zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Today, we also visit other landmarks of Thimphu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, the Bhutanese traditional painting school, the lk Heritage Museum, the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekend, we will explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast, we enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La pass (3,100 m), where on a clear day we get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We then pass through rice fields along river banks and reach Punakha. After lunch, we visit Punakha Dzong. Built between 1637-1638, it is the second oldest and the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Overnight in Punakha.
In the morning, we explore Wangduephodrang. The nearby villages are known for their slate and stone carvings. We then drive through dense oak and rhododendron forests to Gangtey, a beautiful village surrounded by amazing snow-capped mountains. From here, we enjoy views of the picturesque Black Mountain ranges as well as the beautiful Phobjikha valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. At this time of the year, we can see cranes that migrate from Tibetan plateaus to escape harsh winter conditions. We explore Phobjikha villages before calling it a night. Overnight in Gangtey.
Today will be a memorable day as we get to enjoy the much revered black-necked crane festival which is held at the Gangtey Monastery, beautifully perched atop a small hill. Locals gather at the monastery and rejoice at the arrival of the endangered black-necked crane. It is an entertaining festival with folk songs, masked dances and short plays. In the afternoon, we hike in the beautiful Gangtey nature trail for a little over an hour and reach Khewa Lhakhang temple. On the way, we pass by Semchubara Village and descend to a chorten before reaching Khewa Lhakhang. After touring the beautiful temple, we drive back to our hotel. Overnight in Gangtey.
We begin our drive to Paro after breakfast. The drive will be over the Dochu La pass. We stop in Thimphu for lunch after which we continue with our drive. After reaching our hotel in Paro, we can freshen up, take a rest and spend the rest of the evening in leisure. Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast, we hike for 4 to 5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where the Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor. Overnight in Paro.
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.
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All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are included during your stay in Bhutan. A variety of meals are available in most hotels the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food. Non-vegetarian dishes are generally available in most parts of Bhutan such as pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The best advice is to ask the hotel and restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season.
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as either grade A, B or C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. Based on availability at the time of booking, we will be accommodated in A-grade hotels in Thimphu and Paro and a B-grade hotel in Punakha and Gangtey. We use Hotel Migmar in Thimphu, Meri Puensum Resort in Punakha, Hotel Dewachen or Hotel Yolokoe in Gangtey and Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro. All accommodations are on a twin-shared basis. Single supplement will be served on request and will cost USD 400.
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