The most scenic of the Amankora lodges, Gangtey offers stark beauty, nature, fauna and flora including the black neck cranes.
We arrive at an awe-inspiring wide open glacial valley; the dark green floor stretches into wilderness, the end of which is covered with low mountain hugging clouds. The air is crisp and light, we are at 2,900m, but it is as fresh and sweet as drinking spring water. Once beyond the reach of roads and electricity, there is still peace here. The locals call it the Phobjikha Valley. For me it is the end of the world.
Look We arrive at Paro and drive past small villages, some with solar panels on rooftops to power electricity in the night. “It doesn’t always work,” Tenzin, the village boy, told me. “The locals put their faith in the prayer flags.” He points towards the fluttering flags on the valley top. “Every time the wind blows, it takes our prayers straight to the heavens,” he says. “No solar panels required.”
At the Amankora Gangtey, hidden behind a forest, we find a different world. It is warm, comfortable and there is electricity. Cocooned behind huge glass windows, I find it difficult to relate to the outside world of simplicity. The world as it is, the world as it was and the world as it should be.
Stay My room is heated by a traditional wood burning stove they call ‘bukhari’. I find comfort in the terrazzo-clad bath before I spend the evening at the bar, which is stocked with local and foreign beverages. And I sleep well.
In the morning, a shaft of sunlight slants across my room through the open window. The view overlooks the forested hills and sweeping meadows of the valley below. It is September, the sky is clear and I sit outside drinking Darjeeling tea. As I look deep into the valley, I am filled with memories of my past and am at peace with myself. It is my first day in this beautiful world and I am already transformed.
Dine Dining in Aman resorts is on demand. In most cases you have a suggested menu but the chef discusses with you what you like and the cuisine is tailored to your liking. There are no fixed timings. You can eat when you like and where you like.
Explore I spend my day walking up the hills with my guide, sometimes searching for the black-neck cranes. But my guide tells me that we may be a bit too early to see the cranes. Between October and March, black-necked cranes migrate from the Tibetan Plateau to Bhutan, mostly to Phobjikha, the Himalayan Kingdom’s largest wetland area.
Experience On our last day we set off early for our 8-hr drive back to Paro but not far from the village, we have a flat tyre. “There is a reason for everything,” my driver says and sets about replacing it. Suddenly I see Tenzin coming round the corner and with a big smile he offers to help. On my flight back home, I think about the flat tyre and wonder; was it a co-incidence or because I had to meet Tenzin again? The answer to which, I will never know.
Relax In Amankora Gangtey, spa treatments focus on relieving tensions from the drive by concentrating on joint flexibility and re-hydration through herbs and hot oil. Not only warming, a hot oil massage also includes Himalayan herbs targeted at relieving joint stiffness.
One More Thing The drive from Punakha to Gangtey (recommended) can be slow and bumpy or even a torturous 10 hours if you are travelling there from Bumthang. Either way, it will be worth the effort getting there.
Flights to Bhutan are either from Bangkok or New Delhi. You will need to buy a return ticket before you can apply for a visa. Bangkok is the best place to connect if you are coming from North America, Australia or Asia. Delhi is the best place to connect if you are coming from Europe, Middle East or UK. You can also fly to Bhutan from Kathmandu.
We will arrange your flight tickets and visa clearance details and forward them to the Druk office at which the flight originates. All flights arrive at Paro from where it takes about 1-hour drive to Thimphu. Transfers within Bhutan can be arranged by AwimAway with an English speaking guide. Our representative will meet you at the Paro airport and transfer you to the hotel (additional cost).