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Himalayan Adventures. 2015 - All Rights Reserved - Thimphu - Bhutan

Altitude : 1,300 m / 4,430 feet

Located at same elevation as Punakha, it's about 30 minutes of drive from Punakha. It is the last town of western Bhutan before you enter into the central part of Bhutan. Known for fine bamboo work and its slate carvings.

Wangdue Dzong: Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1638 had built this massive fortress sitting on a hilltop at the confluence of Punakha Chu and Tang Chu Rivers. Wangdue Festival is celebrated here in the fall. However in 2012, a tragedy struck and burnt the Dzong, now its in ruins but works are underway to restore it to its ancient glory.

Rinchengang Village: A small clustered village facing the Wangdue Dzong is known for its skill in traditional method of stone masonry. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill with great view of the Dzong, valley and the river.

Phobjikha Valley (altitude 9600 feet): It takes about two hours of drive from Wangdue Phodrang, a glacial valley located on the western slopes of the Black Mountain at an altitude of 9840 feet above the sea level. There is no telephone or electricity and is the winter home to the rare black-necked crane that migrate from high plateaus of Tibet in late fall to escape harsh winters. There are also muntjak (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders Black Mountain National Park.

Gangtey Goenpa: A place to see is Gangtey Goenpa, the largest Nyingma monastery in Bhutan. Gyalse Pema Thinlay built a small temple in 1613, which was later built into larger Goenpa by the 2nd reincarnation Tenzin Legpai Dhendup.

You can take a day hike around the valley visiting villages and observing the cranes during November - March. It is very scenic and mind soothing hike that would provide you with rewarding surprises. The Roosting Ground for cranes is about 20 minutes walk from the bridge crossing the swamp on rough wooden slabs. The best time is at dawn and dusk when all the birds in the valley congregate for the night (only possible during November - March).Visit to the Crane Observation and Education Centre, activities within the Centre are; early morning crane observation and counting/ crane study using nature trails. The centre was established by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), the first  NGO in the country