Discover Black Necked Crane Festival (9 days)

Festival dancers, Bhutan

special(Departure November )
Colorful festivals are very much part of life in Bhutan and the festivities held to celebrate the annual return of the black-necked cranes to the Phobjikha Valley from their summer breeding grounds high on the Tibetan plateau are ones not to be missed. Held annually in November, this “welcome” festival for the black necked cranes has traditional masked dances, music and singing paying homage to the migratory cranes who, upon arrival, circle the Gangtey Monastery three times as if paying respect to the monastery gods and repeat this ritual before their departure in early spring. See Paro, Thimphu, Punakha before the Phobjikha Valley. Hike to Tigers’s Nest, located on a steep cliff. Discover Black Necked Crane Festival is filled with culture and adventure.

Day 1 – Paro
Arrive in Paro where you will be met by our representative and greeted in the traditional Bhutanese manner with Tashi Kadar and tea.

You are driven to your hotel.

In the afternoon, explore the fortress of Rinpung Dzong, dating from 1645, and walk to the Ta Dzong, a huge mediaeval watchtower which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan.

Rinpung Dzong: Meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. The dzong now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro district and residence for around 200 monks of Paro and was built at the same time of Drukgyel Dzong.The famous Paro tshechhu ( festival) is held here in spring.

Ta Dzong: It overlooks the Rimpung Dzong and was built in 1951 as a watch tower. This dzong is Round, more like parts of an European castle. The Dzong was established as the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967 and holds fascinating collection of arts, relics and religious thangkhas.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 2 – Paro/Thakshang
After breakfast, excursion to Taktshang Monastery.

Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. his incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer Rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress. It is a two to three hours excursion uphill; however, one feels truly blessed reaching the monastery.

After lunch sightseeing includes:
Ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong: It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. Peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (Alt. 7,329 m /24,029 ft.).

Kyichu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest buddhist temple in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo, to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya, in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples. Kyichu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 3 – Paro/Thimphu
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu.

Sightseeing in Thimphu includes:
Sangaygang view point: (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.
Takin Reserve Centre. The takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.

Changangkha Monastery: This monastery is built on a hill over looking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their their new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.

The Folk Heritage Museum: Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck the museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days.

After lunch, sightseeing includes:
Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

National Memorial Chorten: Built in 1974 in the honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Tashichho Dzong: Seat of the National Government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, The Chief Abbot of Bhutan.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 4 – Thimphu/Wangdue/Punakha
(76 Kms, 2- 2.5 Hrs drive)

After breakfast, drive to Punakha.

On the way, visit:
Dochula pass: The most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang. It is at around 3150 mt height. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed brings multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.

Chhimi Lhakhang: This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 century. Lama drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.

After Lunch, visit:
Punakha Dzong: This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu (Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

In the evening free time to walk around Punakha town and valley.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 5 – Wangdue/Punakha/Gangtey
(78 Kms, 2.5- 3 Hrs drive)

After breakfast, drive to Wangdue. While in Wangdue view the ruins of the Wangduephodrang dzong.

Then visit:
Rinchengang Village: A small clusterd village in Wangduephodrang, on a hill opposite to where Wangduephodrang Dzong was built before. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the nearest road.

Drive to Gangtey.

While in Gangtey, sightseeing includes:
Gangtey Gompa: Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation.

Phobjikha Valley: Explore the Phobjikha Valley, one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes.

While in Phobjikha you shall also have the opportunity to meet local villagers and interact with them to get an insight into the Bhutanese way of life. You shall also visit villages.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 6 – Phobjikha Valley – Black Necked Crane Festival
After breakfast, attend the Black Necked Crane Festival( Whole day)

The festival is celebrated in the courtyard of the Gangtey Gonpa. The festival is celebrated to create awareness and understanding among the local community on the importance of conservation of the endangered black necked cranes. It is a cultural festival and consists of cultural programs like traditional songs and dances including mask dances. A crane dance and environment related drama is also performed. The performances are done by the local people and the school children. The festival is organized by organized by Phobjikha Environment Management Committee and the RSPN. It was initiated by The RSPN in 1998.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 7 – Phobjikha/Thimphu
(138 kms, 4-5 Hrs drive)

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. In the evening, explore the Thimphu town.

After dusk, drive to Zilukha to view the night view of the Tashichhodzong.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 8 – Thimphu/Paro
(65 kms, approx 1.5 – 2 hrs drive.)

After breakfast, drive back to Paro.

On the way, visit:
Tamchog lhakhang: built in the 13th century by Thangthong Gyalpo. He is also known as the Iron bridge builder. Situated on a hill top, we have to cross an ancient style bridge to reach the temple. It is owned by the descendants of Thangthong Gyalpo

While back in Paro, visit:
Dungtse Lhakhang: This is a little three storied chorten-shaped temple. Built in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo on the top of head an ogress. The temple restored in 1841 by the 25th Head Abbot of Bhutan, Sherab Gyeltshen. This temple is unique in Bhutan and shows the progressive stages of tantric Buddhism.

Ugyen Pelri Palace: Built by the then Paro penlop, Tshering Penjor, this palace is in a scheluded wooded compound on the west side of the Paro Rinpung Dzong. The palace is designed after the Guru Rinpoche’s Celestial paradise, known as Zangtopelri.

Druk Choeding Lhakhang: This is the town temple built in 1525 by Ngwang Chhogyel, one of the prince abbots of Tibet. This temple is also known as the Tshongdue Naktshang.

Chhoeten Lhakhang: This is a large Bhutanese style chorten located in the south of the Paro town square.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 9 – Depart Paro
You are driven to the airport for your departure flight homebound or onward.

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Check out our Black Neck Crane Festival with Bumthang

The above includes: 3 meals a day, driver, English speaking certified guide, transportation within the country, accommodation on twin sharing basis, Government Royalty and taxes, sightseeing, visa fee and museums and monuments fees.

The above does not include: Druk Air fares, bar bills, laundry bills, Telephone bills and other bills of personal nature, any kinds of bottled drinks.

NOTE: Druk Air schedule and cost will be quoted from Bangkok, Kathmandu or Kolkata. Cost is additional.

Nature of Tour: The Tour will be a private Tour with your own guide and a Driver (which means you will not join any other group).

Vehicle: We use imported Japanese Cars and buses for the Tour.
Guide: We use highly experienced, Government certified and licensed guides.
Hotel: We use Government approved Hotels for International Tourists. Hotels in Bhutan are categorized into Class A, B, C and D depending upon the services. Class A being the best and Class D being the lowest Category. We use only Class A Hotels except in those places where the Class A hotels are not available.

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