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Ganden to Samye Monastery Trekking - 11 Nights/ 12 Days

Ganden monastery to Samye Monastery is an arduous trekking adventure that takes you through enchanting central Tibetan high country across ecstatic 5000+ meter high mountain pass. Blessed with magnificent glaciated valleys, gigantic snow-capped peaks this side of Tibet offers a unique trekking experience.

Ganden monastery to Samye Monastery trekking adventure begins after an insightful excursion to the key attractions of Lhasa’s cultural and historical importance. Pleasant overland drive to Ganden, the trailhead point follows the scenic barley fields, nomadic pastureland and alpine meadows. The total 80 kilometer trekking trail skirts through alpine meadows, plunges into gorge, crosses two high passes i.e. Shug La at 5250 meter and Chitu La at 5100m. Yaks follow you entire way carrying food supplies, tents etc and your trek guide chooses the best campsite. This 12 days Ganden monastery to Samye monastery Tibet trekking adventure concludes with a thorough exploration Samye monastery and Tsedang in Yarlung valley, the cradle of Tibetan civilization.

An expert team of committed trekking crew is involved in this meticulous trek for your thorough guidance and support. Pleasure, adventure and excitement incessantly company you throughout your time in Tibet.

We take good time acclimatizing in Lhasa and Ganden before we start out on this trek, because the nature of the terrain on the trek to Samye can create serious difficulties for anyone suffering from AMS while crossing Shug La (5250m) or Chitu La (5100m) en-route to Samye. The valley between these passes is quite high in elevation (4890m) and very remote. The only way to decent to lower ground or seek medical help is to retrace back over the previous pass to the nearest road.

Ganden to Samye Monastery Trekking - Day to Day itinerary

Day 01.
Arrive Lhasa (3660 m)
Day 02.
Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 03.
Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 04.
Drive to Ganden (4500m) 45 km
Day 05.
At Ganden for acclimatization
Day 06.
Trek to Yama Do
Day 07.
Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La.
Day 08.
Trek to Herder's Camp
Day 09.
Trek to Wango
Day 10.
Trek to Samye (2 Hours) & drive to Tsedang
Day 11.
Explore the Yarlung Valley
Day 12.
Drive to Gongkar Airport and Depart

Ganden to Samye Monastery Trekking - Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Lhasa (3660 m)

You have options to arrive Lhasa, you can join the trip in Kathmandu and fly to Lhasa or arrive Lhasa from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or any Chinese Cities.

You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities take a 1.5-hour drive along 93 km road leading to Lhasa lying at an altitude of 3650 meters. It’s advisable to rest and take it easy for the remainder of the day due to Lhasa’s altitude.

Day 2 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Foremost, your tour begins with a visit to Sera Monastery. An experienced tour guide also working as an interpreter escorts you to this preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Equally adventurous and exciting tempo builds up while touring Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Jokhang Temple is another important sacred site which unravels more deep seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Visit to Barkhor Markets can be quite a change from other visits as you roam around the city savoring every tiny detail from stall hawkers coaxing their clients to purchase their goods to exhibition of Tibetan culture, custom and tradition. Eventually, the tour for the day concludes as you return to the comforts of your hotel.

Day 3 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Like the previous day, you experience invaluable insights during your visits to Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery. This 17th century Potala Palace offers an awesome view of entire city and also has private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Ancient history has it that Drepung Monastery which was built in 14th century used to shelter around 10,000 monks but as now there has been quite a declination resulting in only few hundreds. Tibetans’ respect and belief are immensely knotted with this monastery.

Day 4 Drive to Ganden (4500m) 45 km

If you head along the south bank of the Kyi Chu to Medro Gongkar, Ganden is 45 km from east of Lhasa. On continuing eastwards you will drive past Tibet University crossing the Lhasa East bridge to the gas station. En route you will encounter a village and a line of telegraph posts. A monastery lies 18 km ahead at the top of Wangku Ri, a scared ridge. This is the first monastery of the Gelugpa sect and its architecture has been distorted to a larger extent by Cultural Revolution. The main road leads to Ganden valley. At the south west corner of Ganden, a large rock draped with prayer flags can be found. You will spend two nights here acclimatizing and preparing for your further adventure.

Day 5 At Ganden for acclimatization

Ganden is an interesting place to wander aimlessly about in. The sheer ochre walls of many of the buildings make great backdrops for photographs. Kora (walk) around Ganden is not to be missed. Hardly 5 minutes goes by without people stopping before a rock, shrine, or crevice in a boulder to perform unusual rituals that "test" their faith and help them earn religious merit, all in a carnival like atmosphere. This circuit begins at the south west corner of Ganden. A large rocky cleft draped with prayer flags marks the start of this scenic circuit, which takes at least one hour to complete. After Kora you can walk up an adjacent hillock to view Ganden and surrounding sights.

Day 6 Trek to Yama Do

You resume your Tibet Trekking adventure as you trek away from Ganden towards south along Angor Ri, the highest point on the Ganden kora. After ascending for 1 1/2 hours, you see several cairns near a saddle. The trail further leads westwards descending to Hepu village. 30 houses become visible. 3 ½ hours of trekking brings you close to Shug La pass. Ani Pagong lies 1 hour away from Hepu. 1 hour of continuous ascent leads to lush meadows. Then, appears Yama Do where on finding a perfect campsite you will rest for the night.

Day 7 Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La.

Leaving behind Yama Do, you have to climb eastwards negotiating boulders along the final climb atop 5250 meter Shug La, the highest point on this trail. The pass is distinctively marked with its large cairn wrapped in prayer flags and yak horns. After a brief stop at the pass to savor the grand vistas you take sharp descent walking past a boulder field. The trail eventually opens into the valley and up ahead in a distance crosses Tsotup Chu, a large stream and rich pastures of yaks, goats and sheep. You encounter several herders on the way. After adventurous trekking for 4-5 hours, we camp for the night at a superb location in Tsotup Chu Valley.

Day 8 Trek to Herder's Camp

As you turn away from Tsotup Chu Valley, you come across main water course following from the south-east and a tributary from the south-west. You take the route along this tributary followed by steep ascents for 30 minutes to a large basin and thereafter, the tributary disappears out of sight. The trail further opens into the valley progressing south to the Chitu La at 5100 meters capped with several cairns. The trail further brushes past a sheer rock wall on its south flank. Thereafter, follows a descent into a basin showcasing three turquoise lakes. Further on, the trail moves on to the west side of the stream and thereon, after 30 minutes approaches campsite. Many herders’ camps can be seen at the nearby locations. Following the rock-strewn valley floor, you will head to a flat seasonal herder's camp in the east side of the valley. Soon after returning to the west side of the valley, you will near another seasonal herders' camp. As you reach a superb campsite, you will halt there for the night.

Day 9 Trek to Wango

Transversing through lush scrub forest along wide trail, you trek ahead basking in the sheer pleasure of two- hours of blissful moments. Surrounding mystical vistas of verdant vegetation and stream double the pleasure. Along the trail you can witness a plethora of rich wildlife; more than 15 types of trees and shrubs, fragrant junipers growing on southern slopes and rhododendron on the shadier slopes. Succession of lush meadows appears en route. Further ahead, pristine village of Changtang zooms into picture. Majority of the local villagers are engaged in animal husbandry for livelihood. Yarlung Tsangpo valley can be viewed on the south. You can ascend steeply up to Yamalung Hermitage for one hour. But if you choose not to climb this ascent, you can simply wait near the bridge. Ancient history has it that Guru Rinpoche after rigorous meditation attained spiritual enlightment with the blessings from deity Amitayus (Tibetan: Tsepame) at Yamalung (also called Emalung). This heritage houses small temples sheltering monks, sacred spring and stone carvings of 8th Guru Rinpoche, King Trisong Detsen and Indian pundit Shantarakshita. Stone houses come into sight after walking for one hour to the village of Nyango. The trail overlooks big tributary streams cascading from the north-west to join the Samye valley. Old trade route from Lhasa to Samye via the Gokar La follows this valley. You can see four small shops fully resourced with soda and cigarettes. The trail further proceeds towards Wango. Overlooking lush meadows, you will camp between Wango and Pisha.

Day 10 Trek to Samye (2 Hours) & drive to Tsedang

Pisha offers picturesque view of entire lower Samye valley. At its lower end an undulating hill called Hepo Ri appears into picture. This is regarded very sacred. The trail winds through ridge Dragmar towards verdant fields and villages of Samye reviving ancient history. A partially rebuilt palace is nestled on the summit. History boasts that the palace is the birthplace of King Trisong Desten and had a grand temple in the ancient time. Further off the road, you will find a small red and white temple which is believed to have been built under the shade of white sandalwood tree and nourished by the buried placenta of King Trisong in the ancient time but was chopped off during Cultural Revolution. Further on, the trail overlooking amazing spires leads to Sangbu village. You will find a well trodden track for jeep ride to Samye. As you approach Samye valley, you can visit Samye monastery bearing panoramic picture of Samye. Shortly after this insightful visit, you will drive to Tsedang, the third largest city in central Tibet. On the Southeast of Tsedang, you will get to observe mesmerizing view of mountain GANGPO RI standing at 4,130 metres above sea level. Tibetans regard this mountain as their legendary birthplace and give huge significance. You can eventually rest for the night at a comfortable guest house.

Day 11 Explore the Yarlung Valley

Today will be spent exploring the Yarlug valley which is also known as the Valley of Tombs. Ancient Tibetan history boasts that Tibetan civilization was originated from Yarlung valley. You can spot massive burial mounds of Tibetan Kings.

Today’s sights include Tandruk (Trandruk) Monastery, a 7th century monastery, which holds fantastic wood carved altar, interesting relics and murals. Yambulakang, the castle perched dramatically on a pinnacle above the valley is the oldest known dwelling in Tibet, reputedly the home of the Yarlung Kings. The view from the castle is awesome.

The tour continues to the west of Tsedang, crossing the Tsangpo River on a boat to Samye Monastery, founded in 779 AD, is in a green valley among barren mountains surrounded by a village. Samya Monastery is one of the most imposing sights of Tibet. Built between 763 and 75 AD modeled on the University of Otantapuri in India and planned as a representation of the universe it has a collection of pagodas and temples.

Day 12 Drive to Gongkar Airport and Depart

You will be escorted to the airport in time for your flight home.


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