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2013 Bhutan – Phobjikha Valley

Wednesday, October 30 ~ Over scenic mountain passes to Phobjikha

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>>Lunch scenes and the Stupa of Chendebji
>> Photos of Gangtey Goemba Monastery

 

From Trongsa, we travelled west over the breathtaking Pele La (pass) at 11,128 ft, then take a road south over the Lawa La (pass) at 10,300 ft and into the glacial valley of Phobjikha (Phobji Ka), one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country, known as the “Valley of the Cranes”.

After visiting the Stupa at Chendebji, we had lunch in the Pele La where a group of Yak Herders had a few stalls with handicrafts. I watched a young woman spinning on a drop spindle and purchased one. This was our first experience at seeing yaks, very large bovines with thick bushy tails. They are perfectly suited for this high alpine climate.

The route along here was used for the filming of  the Bhutanese move “Travellers and Magicians”.

At 9,480 feet, Phobjikha is the largest wetland in Bhutan. It is the winter home of about 350 Black-necked Cranes that arrive by late October and start migrating back to Tibet by early March. Because of the presence of the cranes, Phobjikha is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the Kingdom. Only 4 cranes had made the flight over the mountains from Tibet by  the time we arrived here. With global warming, the cranes are migrating later than they used to.

Also wonderful to see in Phobjikha is the beautiful Hotel Dewachen, a photographic delight in itself, where we  spent the night, quite a contrast from our simple guest house and camp while in Zhemgang.  We arrived mid-afternoon and had time for a walk down a nature trail maintained by Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), which is the only local environmental NGO in the kingdom. The trail goes through the border between the forest and the marshland. Cranes calling through the pine forest and flying overhead returning to their roost are fantastic. There is a monastery here and a new school.

On leaving this beautiful valley, we visited the Gangtey Goemba Monastery where the monks were carving and painting the beautiful decorative pieces for the prayer rooms then drove to Phunakha via Bajothong town.
Lodging: Hotel Dewachen in the Phobji Valley

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