Bhutan Gangtey / Gogona (Phobjikha valley) Trek

Gangtey / Gogona (Phobjikha valley) Trek
Gangtey / Gogona (Phobjikha valley) Trek
Trip Cost
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Destination: Bhutan

Trip Duration: 9 Days

Grade: Moderate

Min Pax:3 pax .

Trip Type: Camping Trek

Altitude: 3100m

Accommondation: Camping

Transport:Private Vehicle

Meals: Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner

Best Season: Mar- May and Sep- Nov.

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This trek is to the beautiful Phobjikha valley (3,000m), one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan, which lies in the mountains east of Wangduephodrang. After crossing over the pass you soon come to the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few kilometers down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the chosen winter home of the rare black necked cranes, who migrate here annually from the Tibetan plateau. This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons in full bloom in April. It is a short trek at relatively low elevations, which visits several remote villages.

Brief Itinerary

Day 01:Arrive Paro and transfer to Thimphu

Day 02:Thimphu.

Day 03:Thimphu – Gangtey.

Day 04:Gangtey Gompa – Gogona,( 3100m - 6hrs).

Day 05:Trek to Khotokha (2790m - 6 hrs)

Day 06:Trek to Tikke Zampa and transfer to Punakha, (1300m - 5 hrs).

Day 07:Punakha – Paro, 125 km, 4 hours drive

Day 08:Paro.

Day 09:Depart Paro .

What's Includes

    • US$ 40 per person (Single entry visa fee)
    • Government royalty and all the taxes
    • FIT Surcharge for one and two persons
    • Accommodations in 3 to 4 star hotels on twin sharing basis
    • All meals (break, lunch and dinner)
    • Full time English speaking guide
    • Private transportation and sightseeing as per the itinerary
    • Museums and parks fees indicated in the itinerary
    • Bottled drinking water in car

What's not Includes

    • Air  fare
    • Any alcoholic, nonalcoholic beverages and any other personal expenses
    • Tips to guide, driver, trekking staff, hotel service, etc
    • Travel Insurance
    • Single room supplement charge
    • Luxury hotels/resorts are available on supplement cost
    • Specialized guides available on supplement cost 

Detail Itinerary

Day 1Arrive Paro and transfer to Thimphu In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, it is a fascinating journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the Kingdom. On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative and after a drive of one and a half hour duration, reach Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. The seat of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu has been capital of Bhutan since 1955. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Meal: dinner.

Day 2Thimphu.After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following : the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School or Arts and Crafts School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Later visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.
After lunch, visit King's Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. Then visit Changangkha Lhakhang, an old fortress-like temple perched on a ridge above Thimphu, offering fascinating view of the valley.
Late afternoon, visit Trashichhoedzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. Also
Evening, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, interesting items made from local materials.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 3Thimphu – Gangtey.After breakfast, drive to Gangtey across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana - finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Afternoon visit Gangtey monastery. Gangtey Goempa (monastery), is perched a top a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery. In winter this families, together with the monastery’s monks, move away to another monastery, a day’s walk to the south. Gangtey, which is now managed by the government, is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s and is also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (Tulku) to bear that name.
Later explore beautiful Phobjikha valley, lying at an altitude of 2900 m. This is the winter home of rare Black-necked Cranes, an endangers species that migrate from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia, each winter.
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 4Gangtey Gompa – Gogona,( 3100m - 6hrs). The trek leaves the valley at 2830m and leads south, then west through meadows and fields. It then climbs through a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, rhododendrons and magnolia. The trail is rough and rocky and weaves through trees where pack animals have created deep muddy furrows. After crossing Tsele La (3440m) the trail crosses several meadows, and then descends through forests to Gangak (3020m). It is then a short climb to the camp at Gogona (3100m), a beautiful hilltop site overlooking a long valley. Nearby is Gogona Lhakhang and dozens of poles with white prayer flags fluttering. A 30-minute walk beyond Gogona is a hamlet where you may find homemade arra to buy. The women here weave blankets and speak a different dialect called Bjop-kha (language of the nomads). Overnight camp.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 5Trek to Khotokha (2790m - 6 hrs)The trail winds gently up above Gogona village, past flocks of sheep and ploughed fields. Climb into a forest of firs, oak, spruce, dwarf rhododendron, miniature azaleas, cypress and juniper. Much of the undergrowth is daphne, the plant that is used for hand-made paper and may be identified by its yellow flowers. Then a long but gradual climbs leads to Shobju La pass (3410m). The trail down from the past is rocky and muddy, weaving through the forest and criss- crossing a small stream. Eventually, at about 3000m, the trail meets a rough trek used by tractors to collect wood from the forest. Follow the road, with a few short cuts through the woods, to a sawmill and woodcutters camp at Dolonaga (2830m). Still heading down, the trail overlooks the broad Khothangkha valley and eventually reaches a clearing, Chorten Karpo, where there are four Chortens dedicated to the four Je Khenpos who came from this area. Three of the Chortens are square, in Bhutanese style, and the fourth is Nepali style. The best camp is in this clearing at 2790m, beside a forest of a large blue pines overlooking the valley and the village of Khothangkha, comprising about 60 rustic houses. Overnight camp.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 6Trek to Tikke Zampa and transfer to Punakha, (1300m - 5 hrs).A short, steep climb along a well-known path takes you to Tashi La (2800m). This is the upper terminus of the cable car” that transports wood down to Chhuzomsa, 1300m below. The walk down is through a beautiful forest, with the undergrowth changing from rhododendrons and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo. This stretch of trail is one of the finest bird-watching areas in Bhutan. Among the species found here are laughing thrush, shrike, magpie and woodpecker. The trail then plunges down past steep terraced wheat fields to a cluster of houses at Whachay. The trail eventually meets the road near Tikke Zampa at 1500m.
End of trek and then visit Wangduephodrang Dzong, founded by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgayl in 1638. It is located on top of a high ridge overlooking a river junction. The Dzong stands majestically on a spur and commands an impressive view over both north-south and east-west roads.
Evening visit Punakha Dzong, also known as ‘Palace of Happiness’. It is a massive structure at the junction of two rivers and was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. Punakha Dzong is the most beautiful and well-known fortress connected with Bhutan’s historical traditions.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 7Punakha – Paro, 125 km, 4 hours drive Morning drive to Paro en route visiting Simtokha Dzong, oldest Dzong in the country built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses the Institute of Language and Cultural studies.
Arrive Paro, a beautiful valley, rich in culture, scenic beauty and abound in myths and legends.
Afternoon visit Ta Dzong built in 1951, was once the watch tower for the defense of Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. It was re-established as the National Museum in 1967 and has been rated among the best natural history museums in Asia. overnight in Paro.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’, was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal mainly for defense purpose against frequent incursions. Today, it houses the administrative offices which includes the legislative, executive, judicial and religious centre for the people of Paro.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 8Paro.Morning excursion to Taktsang Lhakhang popularly known as Tiger’s Nest (approx 5 hour walk). It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.
Afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess'' can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.
Along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.overnight in Paro.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 9Depart Paro .After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.
Meal: breakfast.

Usefull Info

  • Short information about Bhutan:
    The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, location of Bhutan bordering the Tibetan Autonomous region of China in the North and North-West and the Indian states of Sikkim in the West and South-West, Assam in the south, Arunachal Pradesh in the East and South-East and West Bengal in South and South-West. The country within these borders forms a giant staircase, from a narrow strip of land in the south to some of the highest un-climbed Himalayan peaks on earth. With an area of 46,500 square kilometers, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography, being largely mountainous.It was the mighty Himalayas which protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left the Kingdom blissfully untouched. The Drukpa  Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism provided the essence of a rich culture and fascinating history. The Bhutanese people protected this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded deeply in a jealously guarded isolation.
     
  • How To Enter Into Bhutan:
    Bhutan is a unique destination and as such it has a few unique rules. All tourists must obtain a visa before arriving in Bhutan. Visas are issued on receipt of full payment of your holiday by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The money remains with the Tourism Council until your travel in-country is complete before the local tour operate is paid. Bhutan does not restrict tourist numbers any longer and operates an open door policy.
  • By Air:
    Paro International Airport (PBH) is the only entry point to Bhutan by air. It is located in the south west of the country and served only by the country’s flag carrier Druk Air.E-tickets have been in use since April 1st 2008. Drukair operates 2 planes (two airbuses) which flies to Bangkok,Delhi, Katmandu, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Singapore, Bagdogra & Guwahati.
  • By Land:
    There are three land border crossings located along southern border to India only. Phuntsholing in the west, Gelephu in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar in the east. No border crossings are open along the Chinese northern border. Road permits are also required; however, these are processed by your local tour operator, along with your visa.
  • Accommodation:
    Bhutan being a very small country and a developing one has very few tourist accommodations which are luxurious but there are a lot of accommodations which offer basic necessities, especially as you travel further east.
    If you are looking for a bit of luxury then we can arrange for you to stay at 5-star establishments i.e. namely Amankora (in Thimphu, Punakha, Paro, Gangtey and Bumthang), Uma Paro and Hotel Taj. These establishments have been developed as a result of Foreign Investment in Bhutan. They offer a variety of privileges which are quite unique from the other establishments, therefore be prepared to pay for these privileges. Also now we have some local hotels which have improved the services and facilities such as Zhiwaling. We can also arrange for cooks to accompany you on treks and camping tours that are skilled in coming up with delicious meals.
  • Language:
    We have many other regional languages and the National Language we speak is called as “Dzongkha”, but English is very common among Bhutanese as well and is spoken fluently by most of us. Therefore it is the second official language and it is a medium through which communication takes place.
  • Food and Refreshment:
    While there are ample restaurants on highways between main towns and the hygiene standards at such places is acceptable, the quality of the food is very low and the choice of dishes limited. In addition, the dining halls offer an environment no better than a bus station waiting room. Therefore, it is generally better to prepare food and refreshment for the journey at the point of departure.
    Bhutanese dishes consist mostly of vegetables, chili, cheese, chicken, beef, pork, yak, rice with “Ema Datse” is the national dish (chili & cheese stew) Momo (cheese or pork dumplings), Hogay (cucumber, tomato, onion, and cheese salad), curries with chicken or pork, Nosha Paa (beef and chili) – these are all popular Bhutanese dishes. Due to the hot flavoring and abundant use of chilies in the cuisine it is spicy. There is little to no seafood but on request you can get buffet style meals with choice of continental, Bhutanese and Indian Cuisine. Our cooks, who accompany the treks and camping tours, are well trained and equipped and can come up with delicious feasts every day. For beverages locals enjoy Yak Butter Tea (tea leaves, water, salt, & yak butter) and Ara (spirit distilled from rice).
  • Tour Guides:
    Our tour guides have good knowledge of the history and culture of Bhutan and are very hospitable in nature. They are certified by the Tourism Authority of Bhutan. The most common mode of communication is English but we can also provide guides who can speak French and Japanese.
  • Climate:
    Although geographically quite small, Bhutan’s weather varies from north to south and valley to valley, mainly depending upon the elevation. In the North of Bhutan on the borders with Tibet it is perennially covered with snow. In the western, central and eastern Bhutan (Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Wandue, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse) you will mostly experience European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. Punakha is an exception as it is in a lower valley and summer is hot and winter is pleasant. Southern Bhutan bordering with India is hot and humid with a sub-tropical climate. While the monsoon affects northern Indian it does not command the same influence in Bhutan. Summer months tend to be wetter with isolated showers predominately in the evenings only. Winter is by far the driest period while spring and autumn tend to be pleasant.
    There are four distinct seasons similar in their divisions to those of Western Europe. Temperatures in the far south range from 15°C in winter (December to February) to 30°C in summer (June to August). In Thimphu the range is from -2.5°C in January to 25°C in August and with a rainfall of 100mm. In the high mountain regions the average temperature is 0°C in winter and may reach 10°C in summer, with an average of 350mm of rain. Precipitation varies significantly with the elevation. The average rainfall varies from region to region.
  • Currency:
    For Checking exchange rate , Please click here : Bank of Bhutan.
  • Clothing:
    Due to the varying temperature and climatic conditions it is advisable to dress warmly, layered clothing is better than one or two thick garments in order to keep warm. Clothing should preferably be made from natural materials in order for the body to be comfortable.As Bhutan is in its developing stage people think differently therefore it would be advisable for you to avoid walking around in skimpy or tight fitting clothes. For visits to monasteries, dzongs and other religious institutions dress modestly and respectfully, and refrain from smoking while on the premises. Hats, caps, shoes etc. should be removed before entering the premises.
    You need to pack clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses, pair of casual shoes, knife, hat, umbrella, camera, films and accessories (including spare camera batteries), insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, scissors, sun cream, lip salve, soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream, anti-diarrhea pills, a preparation for the relief of sunburn, and any medication you take regularly, or might need to take for a periodically recurring condition, such as asthma.
  • Visa
    -Visa is needed for Traveling to Bhutan and it is processed in Thimphu through a local tour operator such as Bhutan Travel Gate. Foreign missions or embassies abroad will not grant tourist visa.
    -Passport details should be forwarded to the Travel agent at least 1 month prior to date of travel for visa processing.
    -The visa is stamped only on arrival in Bhutan with the support of visa clearance, which will be sent to you in advance.
    -Those Travelers, entering Bhutan via Druk Air, visa clearance number is forwarded to the concerned overseas Druk Air Stations and without this clearance number the passengers are not allowed to board the flight.
    -Travelers entering the country by surface through Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar (The border town in the Southern Bhutan), visa clearance number is forwarded to the Local Authority and the actual visa is stamped on arrival. Two copies of passport size photographs are required on arrival.
    -Visa fee is USD 40 per person one time and which should be paid along with the Tour payment. 
    For Details , Please find this link Bhutan Tourism Board.