Phobjikha Valley

This large and beautiful glacial valley is best known as a winter home of the endangered black-necked crane and is the site of Gangtey Gompa, a restored 17th-century monastery.

  • Black-necked cranes, Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan © LiQiang,Shutterstock

    Black-necked cranes, Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan

Phobjikha Valley is a large alpine valley on the west side of Bhutan's Black Mountains. It is Bhutan’s best-known marshland and winter home to the rare black-necked crane, much revered by the local people and celebrated in an annual festival. The valley is perfect for hiking and mountain biking. The hilltop Gangtey Gompa is a complex of five temples and is inhabited by monks in the summer months.

  • Valley views:  Phobjikha is a wide glacial valley fed by two rivers and surrounded by mountains. It is excellent for nature walks past villages, temples and monasteries and through forests of pine, bamboo and spring-flowering rhododendrons. In winter the valley is often covered in snow and you may spot yaks.
  • Black-necked cranes:  The valley is a haven for wildlife famously the rare black-necked crane which migrate from the north to spend the winter in milder climes. Several other vulnerable bird species are seen here, and the visitor centre has spotting scopes and information about the natural history of the area.
  • Gangtey Gompa:  This has the distinction of being the only Nyingmapa monastery (a form of Tibetan Buddhism) on the western side of the Black Mountains and was painstakingly restored at the beginning of the 21st-century. In November each year it is the site of the Crane Festival celebrating the return of the black-necked cranes, considered sacred, which, according to legend, circle the monastery clockwise three times on their arrival, as though in homage.
Phobjikha Valley map pin

Phobjikha Valley

Black-necked cranes, Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan

This beautiful glacial valley is the winter home of the rare black-necked crane and a 17th-century monastery.

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