August 3, 2021

The Beauty of Summer in Gangtey Valley

During the summer months of June, July and August the moody monsoon rains roll in from India and the valleys of Bhutan are blessed with abundant rain. These summer rains make for lush, fertile valleys, green paddy fields, forests dense with blue pine and rivers that hurtle by, full to overflowing with pristine waters from the mountains above. The valleys of Bhutan have never looked more beautiful.

Phobjikha (Gangtey) Valley is no exception. A glacial valley and high altitude wetland located above 3000m on the western slopes of Bhutan’s Black Mountains, it is one of the country’s main conservation areas and a biological corridor squeezed in between Bhutan’s two largest national parks. It is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including Bhutan’s famous Black Neck Cranes. Phobjikha is the wintering ground for these protected birds that are now sadly a globally threatened species and each year during the months of October to February more than 300 of them return to Phobjikha Valley from their summer breeding place on the Tibetan Plateau. The valley remains one of the few places in the world where these birds can still be seen.

There are two main rivers that flow through the valley and an ancient tale describes one, the Nakay Chhu, as a snake and the other, the Gay Chhu, as a wild boar. Legend has it that one day the two animals decided to race across the valley and they agreed that if the snake won, then rice would be grown in the region but if the boar won, the farmers would have to choose something else to grow. The Nakay Chhu meandered all over Phobjikha and eventually lost its way and so the boar won and the valley began growing potatoes, not rice like the rest of Bhutan!

Gangtey Lodge village view
View of a rainbow at Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan
Stunning view from a terrace at Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan

Today it’s possible for guests, through our Gangtey Lodge Experiences, to visit a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse and join the family in harvesting potatoes along with other crops such as turnips and radish and also learn how to make homemade butter and cheese – all part of the experience of visiting this remote valley and its small, friendly community. You can learn more about our experiences here.

It is not uncommon for guests traveling to Phobjikha Valley to glimpse majestic views of the mighty Himalayas but during summer these vast mountain vistas are hidden, tucked behind the thick clouds that creep in and hang low and heavy in the warm afternoon. The valleys of Bhutan wait patiently for them to burst and when they do, these magical monsoon rains wash away the troubles of the day, leaving everything clean and sparkling in their wake.

Bhutanese festivals

Celebrating Tshechu In Gangtey Valley

There is a certain time every year when Bhutan comes alive in a vivid display of colour, music, dance and motion. This is a time when Bhutanese from all walks of life down tools, put on their finest, most elaborate clothes (exquisite hand woven kiras for women and ghos for men) and gather together for a day of joyful celebration.

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Gangtey Lodge Team Updates: Sonam Tshering, Sangay Tshering & Wangchuk Dorji

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhutan’s borders have had to remain closed for quite some time now, meaning that we haven’t been able to welcome any of you to experience our great nation. During these hard times, while we have been able to keep our whole team employed on rotation, there has been a lot of free time away from the lodge for our team to utilise. We asked some of our team members to share what they have been doing during this time.

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