Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet website has to say about Gangtey and the Phobjikha Valley:
The Phobjikha Valley, a designated conservation area, borders Black Mountain National Park. This is one of the most isolated gompas in Bhutan; there's no telephone and no electricity (to protect wildlife). This beautiful valley is home to the rare Black-Necked Cranes, which migrate from the Tibetan plateau to escape the harsh winter.
About 200 to 300 cranes live in this valley and the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) is taking every measure to ensure their protection. During the four to five months that the cranes are in residence over winter, the villagers are not allowed to make loud noises or fish in the river that runs into the valley.
There are two rivers that flow through this valley; it is said that the rivers represent a serpent and a boar. According to legend, there was a race between the two to determine whether people can grow rice in the valley or not. If the serpent won then the people could grow rice, but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated. Eventually the serpent lost and till now, rice is not grown in the Phobjikha Valley.
The road to Phobjikha diverges from the main road and then it’s a 1.5km drive through forests to the Lowa La Pass (3,360m). After the pass, the trees disappear and the scenery switches dramatically to low-lying dwarf bamboo as the road descends to the Gangtey village. The road switches back and forth, down past extensive russet-coloured fields of potatoes. Gangte potatoes are the region's primary cash crop and one of Bhutan's important exports to India.
The valley is snowbound during the height of winter and many of the valley's 4,700 residents, including the monks, shift to winter residences in Wangdue Phodrang during December and January, just as the cranes move in to take their place.
Black-Necked Crane Information Centre
Visitors should stop at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN) Black-Necked Crane Information Centre , which has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. There are powerful spotting scopes and pamphlets titled ‘Field Guide to Crane Behaviour’, that help to identify the birds.
This is also the centre of the valley’s fledgling ecotourism initiative, and staff can arrange mountain-bike hires, local guides, an overnight stay in a farmhouse or lectures on the valley ecosystem. If the weather’s iffy, there’s a library and handicraft shop, and/or videos to watch.
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