Phobjikha is the most idyllic place in Bhutan. A 16th century Gangtey Goemba monastery built on a ridge overlooks the open marshy valley. Part of an important wildlife preserve, the valley is home to the endangered black necked cranes. These flock fly south from Tibet every winter before returning back in early spring. The community has an interesting narrative where it says that the birds circle the monastery three times on arrival to the valley every time before gathering in the marshland. It is considered as an auspicious sign in the Buddhist community and the locals believe that these cranes are the reincarnations of the monks of the monastery. In addition to the cranes, this wildlife preserve is also home to the red foxes, leopards, wild boars, Himalayan black bears.
The serenity of the valley has been particularly known to inspire travelers to reconnect with themselves spiritually. The monastery consists of simple guesthouses and meditation centers for travelers. With the popularity rising, ultra luxury resorts from the likes of Aman Resorts International and Sixth Senses have opened shops to offer travelers range of accommodation options to pick from.
Aside from enjoying the tranquility of the valley, travelers can engage in day hikes. There are multiple trails with easy to moderate difficulty, leading through the pine forest. Hikers will come across community school, temples and small village where they can engage with the locals if they choose to. One can spot different birds making it ideal for photography.
The best time to visit the valley is in between fall and spring when the birds arrive. To promote awareness and encourage local commitment to the conservation of the habitat for these endangered species, an annual event is hosted celebrating the cranes. Tourism has boosted the socio-economic development in the community while locals have pledged to promote sustainable tourism forming a symbiotic relationship between the community and nature.