<strong>Wangdue Phodrang Region overview</strong>

Wangdue Phodrang Region is one of the largest dzongkhags in the country. As the district covers 4,308 sq. km and ranges from 800-5800 meters in altitude, it has extremely varied climatic conditions ranging from subtropical forests in the south to cool and snowy regions in the north. Most of Wangdue Phodrang District is environmentally protected. The northern half of the district falls within the Wangchuck Centennial Park, with northwestern pockets belonging to Jigme Dorji National Park. Southeastern Wangdue is part of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Also protected are the biological corridors crisscrossing the district that connect Bhutan’s extensive national park system. The dominant language in the region is Dzongkha, spoken in the western two-thirds of the district. Communities along the border with Bumthang District in the northeast speak Lakha. Along the same border, in central Wangdue Phodrang, inhabitants speak Nyenkha. In the southeast region, remnants of the autochthonous ‘Olekha (Black Mountain Monpa) speaking community barely survive.

One of the most notable sites in the district is Phobjikha Valley. This valley is the habitat of the rare and endangered Black Necked Cranes that roost there during their annual migrations. The residents of the valley have garnered much acclaim for their conservation efforts to preserve the habitat of these beautiful birds. Every year the Black Necked Crane Festival is held in Phobjikha in order to protect and spread awareness of the cranes. The festival includes songs, masked dances and plays by the local school children. This event is one of the most unique and popular festivals in the country.

With its diverse climates and rich natural resources, Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag is home to many rare and exotic animals like Red Pandas, Tigers and Leopards. There are also large numbers of rare birds such as the Black Necked Crane, White-Bellied Heron and the Spotted Eagle.

<strong>Sight seeing in Wangdue Phodrang (1 day)</strong>

<strong>Visit </strong><strong>Wangdue Phodrang </strong><strong>Dzong:  </strong>The Dzong overlooks the convergence of the Dangchhu and Punatsangchhu clearly chosen for its commanding view of the valleys below. The ridge where the dzong was built resembles a sleeping elephant. Wangdi region itself was considered as important in the history of Bhutan because in the early days it was the country’s second capital. There are also a few popular short-easy and long-hard hike trail.   The district of Wangdi Phodrang is also famous for its bamboo products, slate and stone carvings.

<strong>Visit Phobji Kha valley: </strong>Phobjikha which is another top highest priority sight reserved for tourist is situated at an average altitude of 3,000m is a wide and beautiful valley, designated as conservation zone within the Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park (formerly known as the Black Mountains National Park) is a natural habitat for wildlife, including nesting grounds for endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from Central Asia in the winter (late October and stay till March). The general vegetation is composed of mainly blue pine, birch, maple and several species of rhododendrons. The Central Valley inhabited by the Cranes in winter has mostly dwarf bamboo. The repeated grazing of the bamboos by the local cattle and horses in summer prepares the ground for the wintering Cranes. The magnificent Black-necked Cranes heighten the breathtaking scenery of Phobjikha in winter respiratory. The place is popularly known for camping which you may wanna take a chance and experience once. En-route to Phobjikha, Visit Gangte Goemba temple, the temple stands on valley’s prime real estate, on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. The extensive complex consists of the central goemba, monks’ quarters, a small guesthouse and outlying meditation centres. Much of the interior and exterior woodwork of the 450-year-old goemba was replaced between 2001 and 2008 due to a beetle-larvae infestation.

<strong>Half day hike to Gaselo and Nahi village: </strong>The two villages are located in the west of the province, under the Wangdue Phrodang district. The two villages are considered the best spot for a picnic, which we will experience by having lunch there in the village. We will explore the people’s lifestyle in these two village Village. Life here is still medieval and farmers are always happy to see visitors. If visiting during early summer, you’ll be fascinated by the age-old traditional methods used during rice plantation. Experience the joy and simplicity of farming life. In autumn you’ll be able to share the happiness of farmers over a bountiful harvest and truly experience Gross National Happiness.

<strong>Hike in Wangdue Phodrang (1 day for each Hike)</strong>

<strong>Hike to Adha Rukha village</strong>

TIME: 5-6 hours.

Difficulty level: Moderate to Strenuous

Adha Rukha village is excellent places to gain insights into the lives of rural Bhutanese farmers. While it is possible to camp out during your visit but we recommend you to experience Homestay in this particular village. Some of you might be hearing this term ‘Homestay’ for the first time, this homestay culture is very common in Bhutanese society. This literally means you are spending the night in the traditional home of Bhutanese family, where you get to experience an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host. All officially sanctioned and listed home-stays are located in the gorgeous Bhutanese countryside, far from the noise and crowds of population centres. Our tour guide will have to arrange a home-stay with one of the local families. The farmers will happily welcome you into their homes and regale you with local legends of mermaids and ancient kings. It is usually better to schedule your visit during autumn as these areas are prone to leeches, sand flies and mosquitoes during the summer.

<strong>Phobjikha valley Hike: </strong>

TIME: 4 – 5 hours.

Difficulty level: Moderate

There are multiple trails with easy to moderate difficulty, leading through the pine forest. Hikers will come across community school, temples and the small village where they can engage with the locals if they choose to. One can spot different birds making it ideal for photography. We will visit the information centre of the Royal So­ciety for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN), which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the centre’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet Field Guide to Crane Behaviour. This is also the centre of the valley’s fledgeling ecotourism initiative, and it can arrange mountain-bike hire (Nu 700 per day), a hiking guide (Nu 500) and local homestays. If the weather’s iffy, you can browse the library and handicraft shop and watch a 15-minute video. Ornithologists or anyone with a keen interest in birds might find this place most suitable. This place is run by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and has an observation room with high-power telescopes and good scope for spotting the famous Black Necked Crane which migrates to the region during winter. It also displays information about the history of the region. This pavilion lookout on the Gangte Nature Trail offers fine valley views and is just above a hide used by birders spotting back-necked cranes.

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Address
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Thimphu, Bhutan

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