The Beauty of Summer in Gangtey ValleyAugust 3, 2021
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
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!
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.