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Ascend the 3,000-metre mountain pass, with breathtaking Himalayan views before descending into the seldom-visited, glacial valley of Phobjikha, located in central Bhutan. And tucked away neatly in the valley, lies the quaint, rural village of Gangtey.

Phobjikha is one of the kingdom’s few glacial valleys, and for several years, the cultivation of potatoes has brought a certain degree of prosperity to the local farmers. However, the area is best known today for the flock of 300 endangered Black-Necked Cranes which migrate each winter to the milder climate of Phobjika from the high plains of the Tibetan plateau. These elegant and shy birds can be seen from November to mid-March and there is also a Crane Information Centre to educate visitors on the rare species and outlines the natural and cultural history of the area.

Dramatically situated at the head of the valley, commanding exceptional views, is the striking 17th century monastery, Gangtey Goemba, which is inhabited by the monks during the summer months. The vibrant Black-Necked Crane festival is celebrated here each November, and is organised to build awareness and understanding on the importance of protecting the endangered species. Gangtey village itself is seemingly lost in time, and makes for some idyllic strolls.

Phobjikha is part of the Black Mountains National Park wildlife reserve, and with a wide and gently sloping glacial valley the area boasts various nature trails perfect for hikers. The nature trail is a gentle trek which takes around 90 minutes and there is also famous Longtey hike, a four-hour moderate walk from Longtey back to Gangtey Gompa. Wildlife lovers will also be able to spot barking deer, wild boar, Himalayan black bears and leopard in the surrounding hills.

>> See our gallery: Bhutan Research Trip

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My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
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