HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BLACK NECKED CRANE FESTIVAL
The Annual Black-necked Crane festival is celebrated in the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa, in Phobjikha valley. 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 their daily lives during the winter months.
The annual black-necked crane festival is organized to generate awareness and understanding on the importance of conserving the endangered Black-necked cranes; to strengthen the linkages between conservation, economic welfare and sustainable livelihoods of the community; provide an avenue for the local community to renew their commitment to conservation of the black-necked cranes, and to showcase their cultural heritage and skills.
The festival includes 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 the school children. The program usually starts by 9:30 am and lasts till late afternoon.
BLACK NECKED CRANE FESTIVAL DETAILED ITINERARY
Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport
Upon arrival at Paro International airport, you will be welcomed by our company representative and the tour guide will receive and drive to Thimphu – world’s smallest capital takes about an hour on a well paved two lane road that follows Paro River downstream to the confluence with Wang Chu (Thimphu River). Check in at the designated hotel in Thimphu.
Afternoon, begin our sightseeing with a short drive to Kuenselphodrang where largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu. Then visit National Memorial Chorten which was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. Next visit Changankha Lhakhang (temple) situated at a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu – Punakha
Check-out from the hotel and drive to Punakha, the former Capital of Bhutan (77 Km) from Thimphu. Enjoy panoramic view of Black Mountain range at Dochu La, Visit Druk Wangyel Lhakhang, and Royal Botanical Garden on the way. Dochu La is a paradise for photographers.
On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location.
After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing.
Day 3: Punakha – Gangtey, Crane Festival
In the morning, we join the local in their Crane Festival. The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane. Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goempa. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century.
Day 4: Punakha – Thimphu
After breakfast drive to Yabesa village and hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk.
Drive back to Thimphu where you will visit National Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. After visiting the museum we will walk to School for Arts & Crafts; where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5: Thimphu – Haa Via Chelela and Paro
Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988m). From the pass you can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. You can also have a picnic at Chele La if you like to. In Haa, some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visiting the Katso Lhakhang.
The valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped in keeping Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley so we will return back to Paro for the night.
Day 6: A day hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast,you will hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former beauty.
After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point. Then drive back to hotel and relax.
Dinner and overnight in Paro.
Day 7: Depart Paro
After your leisurely breakfast in the hotel drive to Paro airport and depart to your onward destination. Here you bid goodbye to your helpful Bhutanese tourist guide and driver and proceed to your onward destination.
WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:
Tea and snacks
Complementary bottled water in car
permits and sightseeing
NOT INCLUDED IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:
Drinks and Beverages
Phone and other bills of personal nature