On the Wings of Prayer

Gangtey Monastery, Scared Black Necked Cranes, Annual Crane Conservation Festival ~ 17 to 19 days

Bhutan ‘s rare and endangered Black Necked Cranes return from the Tibetan Plateau at the end of fall each year to a broad and gentle valley nestled in Central Bhutan ‘s Black Mountain Range. Each year, on their return, the cranes circle the Gangtey Monastery (pictured above) before settling down into their annual winter grounds. Local villagers believe the cranes are the souls of departed saints, ensuring their protection. The cranes are futher celebrated in Bhutanese stories and song, and the national sport of archery would be incomplete without the ritual “dance of the cranes”. Our Wings of Prayer program explores the interconnections between the sacred cranes and lives of the people in the region and rest of Bhutan. We will also meet leading Bhutanese conservationists working to preserve the crane’s precious habitat, and perhaps provide an opportunity to contribute directly to the continued well-being of these elegant birds. At the Crane Festival in mid-November we join the people of this normally sleepy, if exquisite, Himalayan valley as bird lovers, conservationists and festival-goers converge to view the cranes and celebrate their gradual return to population stability.

Days 1 to 3: Arrive in Paro, visit the National Museum and transfer to Bhutan ‘s capital.

Days 4 & 5: Walking tour of Thimphu valley and area musuems and monuments.

Days 6 & 7: Transfer to Punakha Valley and visit area temples and monuments, including the “Hall of 100 Pillars”.

Days 8 & 9: Transfer to Phobjikha Valley to view wintering Black Necked Cranes, attend annual crane festival.

Day 10: Transfer to Bumthang Valley.

Days 11 & 12: Explore Jakar and hike to “Burning Lake”, Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Monastery.

Day 13: Picnic day and visit to Ura Village.

Day 14: Morning transfer to Trongsa and return to Wangdue.

Day 15: Hike to Khamsum temple.

Day 16: Transfer to Thimphu, afternoon at market.

Day 17: Afternoon transfer to Paro.

Day 18: Hike to Taktshang “Tiger’s Nest Monastery.”

Day 19: Return flight to Bangkok or another gateway city.