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Ganden to Samye Monastery Trek (12 days)

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Trip Code: NETE-TB-GASM1

  • Trip Type Trekking
  • Duration 12 days
  • Grade Moderate
  • Max.Altitude 5250m.
  • Min. Group Size 2+
  • Travel Mode Land & Flight

The 12 days Ganden to Samye Monastery Trek is one of the best cultural trekking routes in Tibet. Both the monasteries held utmost significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural center for thousands of years. From Ganden Monastery at an altitude of 4500m, it will take at least 4-5 days to reach Samye at 3540m. You will be camping along the way as there are no hotels on the route. 
Located at the southern bank of Lhasa River, 47 kilometers from Lhasa City, Ganden Monastery is one of the ‘Three Great Temples’ of Tibet. Ganden Monastery has been preserved under the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme since 1961. Ganden Monastery is also regarded as the birthplace of Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism. The monastery was built under the direction of Tsong Khapa- founder of Gelugpa- in the 15th century. The main halls inside consists of impressive statues of Maitreya Buddha, Manjushree and master Tsong Khapa. 
Every year Ganden Monastery hosts the famous Buddha Painting Unfolding Hospital. 
Samye Monastery is the first Buddhist  Monastery in Tibet. Visiting the monastery will offer the traces the history of Bon religion which was the predecessor of Buddhism religion in Tibet. Built by  King Trisong Detsen of Tibet, Samye is laid out in the shape of Mandala and is dedicated to Padmasambhava. You can also visit Chimphu, a meditation place nearby the monastery.


 Trip code: NETE-TB-GASM1
 Trip Rating
 Trip Duration 12 days
 Trip Type: Trekking
 Trip Grade: Moderate
 Min. Group Size 2+
 Max Altitude: 5250m.
 Trip Start: Kathmandu
 Trip Ends: Kathmandu
 Best Season: SEP-OCT-NOV
 Transportation: Land & Flight
 Meals: 3 times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
 Accommodation: 2-3 Star Accommodation in Kathmandu
Standard Hotel Accommodation in Tibet


Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
If the weather is clear there are wonderful views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and other peaks en route. On arrival at Gonggar airport (which is 90 km. from Lhasa), you meet your vehicle and drive east along the broad Yarlung Tsangpo valley to Tsedang (3400m.). After checking in to your hotel, you drive south to see the reputed oldest building in Tibet, the Yumbu Lakhang, a beautiful castle-like dwelling and monastery, dramatically perched on a spur looking out over the fertile valley below. If time permits you may be able to visit a small monastery close to Tsedang, or an interesting carpet factory where you can see the whole process of carpet making. You stay overnight at hotel.

This day you visit Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Norbulinka.
One of the highlights is the visit to the symbol of Tibet; the Potala Palace set high on Red Hill, the winter home of the Dalai Lama until 1959. The most sacred temple in Lhasa is the Lokhang, where people come from all over Tibet to visit and pray in this spiritual heart of the country.
In the afternoon visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419, has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Another great treasure is the Norbulingka – the old summer palace of the Dalai Lama. You stay overnight at hotel.

This day you will be visiting Drepung Monastery, Jorkhang Temple & Barkhor street.
You can explore Lhasa on your own and visit the Tibetan Medical College or the Ramoche temple (one of the oldest religious buildings in Tibet).
In the evening you visit Jorkhang temple, the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers where innumerable pilgrims come for worship every day. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Surrounding the Jorkhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor Market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa. Around the Barkhor there are numerous stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts: brightly colored boots and fur-lined hats, silver and turquoise jewelry, rosaries, prayer flags and charms, as well as beautiful Tibetan carpets and all manner of ordinary household ware. You stay overnight at hotel.

Drive from Lhasa to Ganden (4500m) and it is 45 kilometers.
If you head along the south bank of the Kyi Chu to Medro Gongkar, Ganden is 45 kilometers 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 kilometers ahead at the top of Wangku Ri, a scared ridge. 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 stay overnight at hotel.

Rest 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. 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. You stay overnight in camps.

Trek from Ganden 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. You stay overnight in camps.

Trek from Yama Do 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, you camp for the night at a superb location in Tsotup Chu Valley.

Trek from Tsotup Chu Valley 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. You stay overnight in camps.

Trek from Herder’s Camp to Wango.
Transverse 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 enlightenment 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.

Trek from Wango to Samye takes 2 hours and 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. 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.

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. You stay overnight in guest house.

Drive to Gongkar Airport and fly from Lhasa to Kathmandu.
You will be escorted to the airport in time for your flight home. The flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu takes one hour and during your flight, you can see Yarlung Tsangpo River, Yamdrok Tso [Lake], Mount Kanchanjungha (8,586m.), Mount Makalu (8,463m.) and Mount Everest (8,848m.). But the visibility depends on the weather condition. Your Tibet Tour ends on your arrival at Kathmandu Airport.


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