Once you depart the warm valley of Punakha, you will be greeted by the cool and refreshing air of Phobjikha. Situated at 3000 m above sea level, Phobjikha valley is a U-shaped valley in central Bhutan. Flat green marshlands stretch out far, with mountains demarcating the border. The valley not only attracts visitors from all over, but it also attracts a rare and elusive group of visitors, the black necked cranes.
The valley is the winter home of the black necked cranes who depart from the Tibetan plateau to escape the harsh winter. It would be fair to say that life in Phobjikha valley revolves around the cranes. To not disturb the delicate habitat of the cranes, developmental works in the area are very limited. A festival is held every year on the 11th of November in the courtyard of the Gangtey Goenpa temple by the locals to welcome the cranes who arrive in the valley by this time. You can visit the Black Necked crane information centre should you wish to learn more about these birds.
Such a location that is treasured by both the citizens and tourists deserve to be explored on foot. This need is met with several day hikes that lets you explore the valley. The most popular day hike and the most leisurely is the Gangtey nature trail hike, easy on both the knees and eyes, this hike will take you through the heart of the valley and grants an opportunity for bird watching that is made possible by the conservation of this rich biodiversity. The hike takes you to Gangtey Goenpa, a sacred temple built in the 17th century, the temple also serves as a monastic college.
There are other slightly more demanding day treks such as the Shashila hike and the Khotokha hike available for the hiking enthusiast.