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9-Day Black Crane Festival Conquest Plan

   Suitable Months : All months 

To witness festival coincide the travel plan with Festival Date: 11th November 2013

The Black-necked Crane Festival is held every year in Phobjikha on November 11th, coinciding with the birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the King. This crane festival is organized by Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), the festival started in 1998 and aims at spreading awareness on the cranes and the traditions as well as culture of local people.

Day 1 – Arrival in Paro, Bhutan (Altitude 2,320m)

Greetings and Kuzuzangpo!

Welcome to Drukyul, the Land of the Thunder Dragon landing at Paro International Airport, you will be received by your tour guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Then we will drive you to your lodge and you will have your first taste of the Bhutanese food. Depending on the comfort of your leisure, we will do some light sightseeing as follows:

  • Sangaygang: City hillock where the Bhutan Broad Casting Tower is stationed, where the beautiful scene of the whole of Thimphu City can be seen.
  • Takinenclosure: To see the Takin National animal of Bhutan.
  • Buddha Dordenma Statue: You will see the Biggest Buddha statue in the world at Kuenselphodrang, gaingaintic
  • Heritage Museum:Dedicated to connecting Bhutanese rural though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households.
  • Textile Museum: You will witness the art of traditional weaving.
  • TashichoDzong: The BiggestDzong, in the Country, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
  • National Memorial Chorten: Built in honor of the Late third King JigmeDorjiWangchuk. You will see hundreds of people chanting around the chorten in the evening.
  • Papermaking Factory: You will see the art of papermaking
  • SemtokhaDzong: Five miles from Thimphu stands the oldest fortress in the Kingdom known as SemtokhaDzong.

 Day 2 – Thimphu (Phajoding Trek) (Altitude 2,320m) 

It takes 3 hours to trek up to Phajoding Monastery and 2 hours to trek back to Thimphu. At Phajoding, if we get more time then you can trek all the way up to ThujeDra till you can see the skull mountain. The view from Phajoding of Thimphu is simply breath taking. At the top of ThujeDra, we can see the Rhododendron bushes stretching all over the trek path. This trek is part of the Druk Path Trek.

Changangkha Monastery – ChangangkhaLhakhang built in 12th century, is oldest monastery in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu. Lama PhajoDrukgomZhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet picked this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue. 

Day 3 – Thimphu to Punakha  (Altitude 1,300m) 

  • Dochula Pass- 108 chortensbuilt by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.
  • Dochu La Nature Hike – Hike through the deep forest of Rhododendrons and Juniper for more than 2 hours to the Botanical Garden at the bottom. It is one of the most beautiful hike to see the flora that Dochu la has to offer.
  • PunakhaDzong: Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning Bhutanese architecture, built at the fork of two rivers. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored as of today.
  • KhamsumYulleyNamgyalChorten: Built by the Third Queen Mother AshiTsheringYangdonwangchuck this Chorten is a splendid Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It was built over eight and a half years and the details have been drawn from religious scripture.

Day 4 – Punakha to Gangtey, Crane Festival (Altitude 3,000m) 

The Valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (GrusNigricollis). 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.

Nature Hike along the valley of Phobjikha 

Day 5 – Punakha to Paro (Altitude 2,280m) 

  • Talo Village-The village of Talo, high on hills above Punakha is located at an altitude 2800m. The village is scattered along the hill slopes. TaloSangnacholing is built on a plateau with a majestic view of surrounding villages.
  • ChhimiLhakhang – A 20 minutes’ walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. NgawangChogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ DrukpaKuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.
  • Paro Valley – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
  • ParoDzong – also known as RinpungDzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery,is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag.
  • Ta Dzong – Built as a watch tower the Ta Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum has preserved antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armor, household stuffs and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

 Day 6 – Paro to Haa via Chele La(Altitude 2,280m)

Drive time 2 hours (one way)

Drive to Haa via Chele La (3,988m). From the Chele La pass you can view theParo valley on one side andHaa valley on the other. You can also have a great photo shot at Chele La overlooking other mountains. At Haa, we will do some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visit the KatsoLhakhang. After the sightseeing, we return back to Paro for the night. 

Day 7 – Bumdra Trek Day 1(Altitude 2,280m) 

Hike from Sang Choekor Buddhist College (2,800m) to Yak Pasture below Bumdra Monastery (3,800m):  The hike will begin early morning driving upto the Sang Choekor to meet our horses and while they are being loaded we may pay our respects at the Buddhist College. The initial 1-2 hour will be ascending of a ridge, which is steep at times though also in cool shade, brings us to a clearing with prayer flags and view down into both the Paro and Do Chhu valleys.

Day 8 – BumdraTrek Day 2 (Altitude 2,280m) 

After breakfast it is either head straight back into the valley or hang some prayer flags.  After that, we shall drop back into the pine and rhododendron forest on the  zigzag trail for 1-2 hours, then we will catch the glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below.

The path zigzag across the mountainside between the monasteries and temples then we reach the gardens of Sangtopelri (Heaven on Earth) from which we can peer over edge and straight down onto the decorative roofs of Taktsang in the cliff down below.

After an hour later and we will be at the gates of Taktsang monastery.After visiting the monastery we will descent about 45 minutes to reach our vehicle and drive back to Uma Paro.

Taktsang Monastery: A one hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. The name Taktsang came after Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.

Day 9 – Depart Paro (Altitude 2,280m)

We will drive you to Paro airport for your flight and you bid a farewell to the Kingdom of Bhutan.