GANDEN MONASTERY TO SAMYE MONASTERY TREK
This trek gives you a real taste of Tibetan highland adventure and an insight into Tibetan Buddhism. Interspersed with excursions to ancient monasteries, this trek is also recommended for the aficionado of Tibetan theology.
Trekking in Tibet offers you an altogether different experience. As you hike along the rugged Tibetan terrain, you will be greeted with sights so different and new: from the arid Tibetan topography that resembles a lunar landscape to the ancient villages with their colorful prayer flags and magnificent monasteries. As you traverse along the 80km trekking trail that skirts barley fields and nomadic pastureland, you get an opportunity to observe Tibetan lifestyle at close quarters and experience the real Tibet. Before your trek commences, you will be taken on a sightseeing tour to Lhasa.
During the trek you will be supported by an expert and dedicated trekking crew. With them you cross two high passes in the Tsotup Chu Valley, Shug La (5250m) and Chitu La (5100m). You will also get to explore the many monasteries that lie along the trekking trail. The chief highlight of this trek is the trekking trail which connects the two important monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, Ganden and Samye. Ganden Monastery, which lies 45 km east of Lhasa, is the first monastery of the Gelugpa sect. Built by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa order, the monastery is renowned as one of the biggest and most important Gelugpa monasteries in Tibet. The Samye monastery with its gleaming facade is reached by crossing the Tsangpo river. Founded in 779 AD by Trisong Detsen, the monastery has a collection of pagodas and temples.
Excursions to the Tandruk Monastery (which holds wonderful specimen of Tibetan art) and the Yambulakang castle (the home of the Yarlung Kings) are also included in your itinerary.
- Trip length: 12 Days
- Grade: Moderate to fairly challenging trek - Grade Explanation
- Starts in: Lhasa
- Ends in: Kathmandu
- Group size: Maximum 12
- Accommodation: Hotel and camping
- Transportation: 4WD Land cruiser with support truck
- Maximum altitude: 5250m
* Adventure journey into the innermost Tibetan high country
* breathtaking panoramic view of 7000+ meter peaks of central Tibet
* Bizarre culture and lifestyle of Tibetan nomads and herders.
* Delightful transverse along scenic trail from Ganden to Samye across 5000+meter high pass
* Visit to Ganden Monastery, the first monastery of the Gelugpa sect
* Incredible discovery of Tibetan civilization in Yarlung valley
* Exciting and informative tour to the historical and cultural attractions of Lhasa
Day 1 Arrive in Lhasa (3660 m) - 45 minutes drive from Gonggar airport to Lhasa – 93 km
Day 2 Sightseeing in Lhasa - (Sera Monastery, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Square)
Day 3 Sightseeing in Lhasa - ( Drepung Monastery and Potala Palace)
Day 4 Drive from Lhasa to Ganden (4500m) 45 km – Ganden Monastery
Day 5 At Ganden for acclimatization
Day 6 Trek to Yama Do
Day 7 Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La.
Day 8 Trek to Herder's Camp
Day 9 Trek to Wango – (Yamalung Hermitage)
Day 10 Trek to Samye & drive to Tsedang (before leaving Samye visit to Samye Monastery)
Day 11 Explore the Yarlung Valley – (Tandruk Monastery)
Day 12 Drive to Gongkar Airport and Depart
Ardent trekkers and adventurers from all over the world regard Tibet as an ultimate adventure travel destination for its unlimited Tibet trekking options. Undeniably, Tibet trekking adventures offer most insightful, enriching and fascinating experience as you walk up a broad valley of barley, rich yak pastures, picturesque flower-carpeted valleys, deep gorges, rugged high altitude deserts, successions of glacier-topped mountains and highly glaciated mountain passes.
Treks in Tibet not only introduce you to its Himalayan peaks, monasteries and culture but also equally educates you on its distinctive flora and fauna, and chances to interact with Tibetan Nomads is another incomparable enjoyment of trekking in Tibet. Wherever you chose to trek in Tibet you are certain to witness rich & exotic species like Himalayan black bear, giant Tibetan brown bear, snow leopards and so many other exotic species which you have never seen before.
Explore Himalaya, in coordination with Tibet Adventures, Lhasa based office provides fully supported trekking programs in Tibet. Tibet traveling permit, transportation, coordination with Chinese Government offices and check posts will be carried our by Local Tibetan guide from our Lhasa office, and meals, trekking supports will be provided by Sherpa crew from our Nepal office. Some of regular Tibet trekking programs are listed below, which are available on group joining or private basis. If, however, any of our dates are unsuitable for you, we can arrange a private trek for you or circulate your convenient dates and find others to join you (this method has worked several times). Moreover, we can also customize any Tibet trekking trip to suit your exact requirements and dates. In short, we will make every effort to get you on the trip you want, when you want.
Day 1 Arrive Lhasa (3660 m)
You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650 meters). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest and take it easy. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no program arranged for today.
Day 2 Sightseeing in Lhasa
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and the Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of the Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel.
Day 3 Sightseeing in Lhasa
After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day you will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest. Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala Palace, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide.
Day4 Lhasa / Ganden Monastery (4180m)
You head along the south bank of the Kyi Chu to Medro Gongkar, towards Ganden. On continuing eastwards you will drive past the Tibet University crossing the Lhasa East Bridge to the gas station. After a 40 km drive from Lhasa, you arrive at Ganden. Ganden Monastery is the first Gelugpa monastery and has remained the main seat of this major Buddhist order ever since. Of all the other monasteries in Tibet, it is Ganden that has suffered the most at the hands of the red guards. Ganden has stupendous view of the Kyi-chu Valley and fascinating kora. The mountains round Ganden provide you a good warming up before the trek.At the south-west corner of Ganden is a large rock draped with prayer flags. You will further spend two nights here to acclimatize and prepare for your forthcoming adventure.
Day 5 At Ganden (4180m) for acclimatization
Ganden is an interesting place to explore. The ochre walls of many of the buildings make a great backdrop for photographs. A large rocky cleft draped with colorful prayer flags, a religious destination among the locals of Ganden, is worth a visit. The locals can be seen circumambulating (kora) clockwise around this cleft.
Day 6 Trek to Yama Do (4250m)
You resume your trekking adventure as you trek away from Ganden towards south along the Angor Ri. After ascending for 1 1/2 hours, you see several cairns near a saddle. The trail further leads westwards descending to Hepu village. Here several houses become visible. 3 ½ hours of trekking brings you close to Shug La pass. Ani Panong lies 1 hour away from Hepu. An hour of continuous ascent leads to lush meadows and soon appears Yama Do.
Day 7 Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La
Leaving behind Yama Do, you climb eastwards negotiating boulders along the final climb atop 5250 meters of the 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 make a sharp descent walking past a boulder field. The trail eventually opens into the valley. Up ahead in a distance the trail crosses the Tsotup Chu, a large stream with rich pastures of yaks, goats and sheep. You encounter several herders on the way. After trekking for 4-5 hours, you reach the 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.
Day 9 Trek to Wango
Traversing through the lush scrub forest along the wide trail, you trek ahead, taking in the refreshing sights of verdant vegetation. The trail is dotted with fragrant junipers growing on southern slopes and rhododendron on the shadier slopes. Further ahead the village of Changtang comes into view, where the majority of the local villagers are engaged in animal husbandry. 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 Rin Poche, after rigorous meditation attained spiritual enlightenment with the blessings from the deity of Amitayus (Tibetan: Tsepame) at Yamalung (also called Emalung). This hermitage houses small temples which shelters monks, sacred springs and stone carvings of 8th Guru Rin Poche, 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 the tributary streams cascading from the north-west to join the Samye valley. The old trade route from Lhasa to Samye via the Gokar La follows this valley. The trail further proceeds towards Wango. You further head towards Pisha.
Day 10 Trek to Samye
Pisha offers picturesque view of the 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 the ridge of 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 Detsen 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 to Samye.
Day 11 Explore the Yarlung Valley
As you approach Samye Valley, you can visit the Samye monastery bearing panoramic picture. 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 views of mountain Gangpo Ri standing at 4,130 meters above sea level. Tibetans regard this mountain as their legendary birthplace and consider it to be immensely significant. You can eventually rest for the night at a comfortable guest house. You get to explore the Yarlung 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. Samye 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.