Phobjikha is a bowl-shaped glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. In addition to the cranes there are muntjacs (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills. Some people refer to this entire region as Gangte (or Gangtey), after the goemba that sits on a ridge above the valley.
The valley is snowbound during the height of winter and many of the valley's 4700 inhabitants, including the monks, shift to winter residences in Wangdue Phodrang during December and January, just as the cranes move in to take their place. Even outside winter, temperatures can plummet in the afternoon, so be sure to pack some warm clothes.