Moderate to fairly challenging trek
Trip starts from
This trek from Ganden to Samye is one of those lovable trek routes in Tibet. Besides sightseeing in Lhasa, you will have an opportunity to get close to the amazing natural scenery and experience Tibetan religious culture on the high plateau.
This is also challenging trekking in Tibet that covers 80km from Ganden monastery to 1st ever Tibetan Buddhism monastery Samye, as we cross the steep and towering Shugar la pass at ( 5250m) and Chitul la pass (5210m), within the alpine green valleys we see lone nomad families about their daily chores in their black tents and tending their herds on the grassland; a couple of natural lakes on the Chitul la pass is source of streams flowing down within the valley, the rocky surrounding is home for herds of wild goats, the scrub forest and fragrant junipers grow beautifully down in the valley basin, specially at the end of May and June, & the valley is just lovely with blossoms of rhododendrons, then finally the trail meets at Yarlung valley and our trekking ends at Samye monastery, an easy day excursion within the ancient Tibet capital Yarlung as we make our way to some historical palaces and tombs before leaving for the airport.
Most visitors will love the Ganden trek in Tibet. In the course of this journey, you will see lakes, beautiful alpine forests and meadows, as well as two centers of Tibetan religious culture. The best time for this trek is from May to mid October. Summer will be wet but the mountains are at their greenest and wild flowers spangle the alpine meadows. Before you start this trek you need a couple of days at Lhasa to acclimatize.
Highlights of the Trekking
Panoramic views of Mt. Shisapangma, gripping city of Lhasa, Tibetan landscapes, explore large numbers of monasteries in Samey and Lhasa, ever-smiling Tibetan people.
Day 1: Arrive Lhasa (3660m)
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.
Day 4: Lhasa / Ganden Monastery (4180m)
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 around 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.
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.
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 (5250m) 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 and 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 Gonggar Airport and Depart for home or your next destination
You will be escorted to the airport in time for your flight home. You are also free to visit any other city of interest in China or head across the border to Nepal for a host of programs that will suit your interest. Till then, Tashi Delek Nepal Treks & Expeditions wishes you a safe journey home with lasting memories of your visit to Tibet.