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Gangtey / Gogona / Khotokha Winter Trek
Gangte is the valley of the revered black necked cranes. The cranes fly over the himalayan ranges from Tibet to their wintering grounds in Gangtey in November. The wide, serene valleys present breathaking beauty that makes time come to a standstill. The valley has two streams the boar and the snake and legend has it, that they had a wager to reach the end of the valley first and the snake lost because it kept meandering in the valley floor, whereas the boar just rushed to the end of the valley.
Arrive at Paro Airport
The first day flight to Paro airport will bring you the most spectacular view of the Himalayan ranges.
Twenty five minutes before you land in the Dragon kingdom you will be able to view the highest mountain range, The Everest and then other mountains like the Mt.Kanchenjunga, Mt.Makalu and at the later end you will also see the mountains of Bhutan like the most famous Mt.Chomolhari, Mt.Jichu Darke, Mt.Tsrim Gang etc. Finally after a great view you will reach Paro airport after 2 hrs 45 minutes (from BKK) or 1 hr 30 minutes (from KTM). There your respective guide will receive you. Here there are two options, one you can either drive to the Capital, i.e 2hrs from Paro or halt at Paro (2250 m) i.e 15 minutes away from the airport. If your flight is early then you will be served lunch at your respective hotel. You can then discuss the other following programmes with your guide. In the evening if you are not tired then you can take a drive/walk through the Paro town.
Paro to Thimphu
You can have an easy start from Paro since Thimphu (2300m) is just 2hrs drive. On the way you will see a monastery called the Tachogang lhakhang. You can ask your guide for some explanation. After a drive of 1 hour you will reach a place called chuzom which means the meeting of two rivers. The Thimphu river and Paro river meets here at a confluence of three different kinds of monastery that you will see in the country. There will be a road junction from which one goes to the south which leads to Phuentsholing in the southern part of Bhutan and the other to the capital. Before reaching Thimphu you will see a dzong on the top of a hill which is the Simtokha dzong. This dzong was built by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel which is infact one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan. It was built in 1627 and at present it is being used as a school for the monks and also for students who want to learn Dzongkha in a professional field. You will reach Thimphu after 15 minutes from this dzong and then you can either check in your hotel first or start with your sightseeing after lunch. The first thing you will visit is the Memorial Chorten which was built in memory of the third king in 1974.You can further go inside the Chorten and enjoy the most exotic statues of the gods. You can then visit the Indigenous hospital, the Painting school where the art of ancient painting is used by the students. Then you can visit the Tashichhodzong from outside which is the seat of the Royal Government and central monastic body. After this you can go back to your hotel for some tea and relaxation. Then you can further continue your sightseeing by going to the Post office, Paper factory, a small weaving practice center, Changangkha monastery, Zangto Pelhri monastery and Zilukha nunnery. In the evening you can drive to the viewpoint from which you can view the whole Thimphu City. On the way you can also stop and visit a small zoo to see the National animal of Bhutan, the Takin. Later you can go for a walk on your own in the town. Overnight at hotel.
Please note that if you are in Thimphu during the weekends then you can visit the Subji Bazar i.e the vegetable market where you will witness a lot of natural people in their own style of selling and buying vegetables.
Thimphu to Gangtey
After your breakfast leave for Gangtey. On your way you will have to drive through the Dochula Pass. In a clear weather you will be able to see the Himalayan ranges. After 3 hours of drive you will reach Wangdi where you will be served lunch at a hotel. From there you have to drive for 3 hours more to reach Gangtey. As you enter Gangtey, “the valley of Dwarf bamboo shoots” you will find it as one of the most beautiful valleys in the country. There is a guesthouse in Gangtey owned by the Gangtey Tulku. There you enjoy the privilege of the only lighted guesthouse in the whole valley. Overnight at guesthouse.
Gangtey gonpa halt
This place is the winter home of the endangered blacknecked cranes (grus nigricllis) who migrate from the Tibetain plateau and China. A monastery stands next to it and is headed by the Gangtey Tulku. It is said that this is the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.
You will be surprised to see another valley further south of the Gantey valley. It is called the Phobjikha valley but it is a part of the Gangtey itself. There most of the tourists camp for the night and also fish along the meanders. The Black necked cranes are mostly seen there. Overnight at guesthouse.
Gangtey Gonpa Monastary
Gangtey gonpa to Gogona
You will start your trek climbing to the Tselela pass through meadows and fields. Gogona is 15 Klm away and you may take 6-7 hours to reach your camp. The residents in Gogona have a different language , “Bjopkha”the language of the nomads. You will camp here for the night.
Gogona to Khotokha
You will have to trek to Shobjula at 3390 mtrs but it will be a gentle climb.From there you will decend down leading to a wide valley, i.e where your camp is. You would have covered a distance of 15 Klms (6-7 hours).
Khotokha to Chuzomsa
A short ascend will lead you to Tashila pass (2780 mtrs). After this
pass you will descend more to Chuzomsa where your transportation will be waiting for you. You will then go to Wangdi for night halt.
Wangdi to Thimphu
After your breakfast, first you can drive to Punakha on the way back. In Punakha you will be sightseeing the dzong. This dzong is the winter home for the head lama, the Jekhenpho and the monks. Later you will drive through the same route to get back to Thimphu.Overnight at hotel.
Thimphu to Paro
Drive to Airport for departure.