May 20 – June 2, 2012
Overview: Though this trekking route is popular, the walk is a challenge and the altitude gains are higher than what is often recommended. We start our trek at 13,940 feet at Ganden and head toward the Samye Monastery. The highest pass we cross is Shogu La at 17,220 feet.
The trek provides a rich variety of scenery: from high snowy passes to lush alpine meadows — finally culminating at the barren, desert-like surroundings near the Samye Monastery. Along the high passes we discover secluded valleys — only inhabited by high-altitude nomads and their yaks. This pilgrimage route is well used by Tibetans, who find it convenient to combine a visit to Ganden (the principal monastery of the Gelugpa) with a reasonably direct but hard walk to Samye (Tibet's first monastery). With a slow amble, this trek is fulfilling and pleasant. Its two passes are moderate, while displaying beautiful views.
Leadership: Our Trek Leader is Pemba Tashi. Pemba is HHT's principal Tibetan trekking guide and also supports our Chasing Buddha Tibet Pilgrimage. His extensive mountain trekking experience combines with his easy humor and ability to help explain many complex cultural and Buddhist–oriented subjects to travelers. He is an ideal interpreter of this ancient and fascinating mountain region.
Ganden to Samye Day-To-Day Itinerary Detail:
Pre Trip Days: Fly to meet in Lhasa. Remember, people in the Americas 'lose' one day crossing the international date line. Note: You must arrive in Kathmandu no later than May 20, 2012. It is necessary for us to book your flight into Tibet for you. HHT can also help with your air or land arrangements and any custom options before or after your trek. Ask us questions while you plan!
Day 1: Group arrival day in Kathmandu (4,423 feet). Your local guide will meet your flight at the Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu. They will wait for you after you get your Visa, collect your luggage and pass through Nepal customs. You'll quickly transfer to a delightful guest house in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. After time to settle in, we'll take a walk to enjoy the late afternoon light at the Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath. It is also known as the Monkey Temple because of the large band of monkeys that call it their home. At one time, the Kathmandu Valley was a huge lake. Legend has it that the hill on which the Monkey Temple stands was an island. There is evidence that the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site 2,000 years ago. (Dinner)
Day 2: Guided sightseeing (by car) of the lush Kathmandu Valley. Highlights include Hindu temples and the burning ghats of Pashupatinath on the holy Bagmati River and the nearby Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath. Burning ghats are where Hindus cremate dead bodies in readiness for dispatch on the river. Enjoy free time in the afternoon, then dinner at an Indian or Nepali restaurant and an optional evening walk. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 3: Group arrival in Lhasa. On arrival in Tibet, our local guide will meet you outside the customs hall at Gongar Airport and transfer you to Lhasa where we check into our hotel. On the way, enjoy the view along the Yarlong Tsangpo River (the longest river in Tibet). It is important for your acclimatization that this afternoon be spent resting. (Beakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street. The first day of sightseeing starts with Lhasa's most well known landmark — the Potala Palace. It is a prominent icon and a structure of massive portions. Later this afternoon, we visit the Jokhang Temple — the spiritual center of Tibet. Each day, many pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek great distances to this shrine. Next, we visit Barkhor, the oldest street and still a traditional scene of old Tibet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5: Visit Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery. About five miles west of central Lhasa is Drepung, once the world's largest monastery with about 10,000 attending monks. From the hillside enjoy expansive views of the entire Lhasa City against the backdrop of the rugged mountain peaks. Drepung is the largest of Lhasa's two great Gelugpa Monasteries. Three miles north of central Lhasa, Sera Monastery is smaller and more serene.(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6: Free day in Lhasa to explore the neighborhoods and sample the local cuisine by yourself or with new friends! (Breakfast)
Day 7: Monastery and start of our trek. In the morning we drive about 90 minutes from Lhasa to visit Ganden Monastery. After sightseeing, we'll continue an hour to the village of Dupshi. One hour of moderate hiking transports us to Ani Pangong — the site of a former nunnery. Total hike: Three miles, two hours. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8: Ye–dropka. A few hours of steady climbing carries us through pristine meadows to our lunch break at Yama Do. One more hour along the trail takes us to our peaceful campsite and a restful afternoon. Total hike: Three miles, two hours. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9: Yama Do & Tsotup Chu Valley. Two hours of steep hiking leads us along to Shug-La Pass where we make the final steep ascent to the rare air of 17,220 feet! The route continues across Shug-La Pass following a cairn–lined trail. We descend gradually, reaching the valley in ninety minutes from the pass. We cross the Tsotup Chu, a long stream winding along the valley floor. Nomad herders with their yaks, goat and sheep dot the landscape. Tonights camp is near a stream crossing. Total hike: Six miles in four to five hours. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10: Tsotup Chu Herder's Camp. From the Tsotup Chu Valley, we follow along a small tributary entering from the southwest. Our path rises steeply for 30 minutes, finally reaching the mouth of a large basin. The terrain ahead is not particularly difficult as we reach Chitu-La Pass (16,728 feet), marked by several large cairns. A short steep descent leads us into a basin holding three small lakes. Our trail is not always clearly marked and passes seasonal campsites before finally reaching the valley floor and our well–deserved camp. Total hike: Nine miles, about five hours. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11: Yamalung Herder's Camp. Our trail is now wide and easy to follow — meandering through forest of shrubs and rhododendrons for three hours. We amble through a series of meadows before reaching Gen Do, a stone structure in ruins. The forest thins rapidly and we reach the first permanent village of Chantan (13,776 feet) after leaving Hebu. In 30-40 minutes we arrive at the trail fork for Yamalung Valley. The Yamalung Hermitage is another one hour steep climb from the valley floor. Total hike: Nine miles, about five – six hours. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 12: Yamalung to Samye Monastery. From Yamalung Valley, we drive along rustic roads to reach Samye — passing the small villages of Nyango, Wango and Pisha. From Pisha, the entire lower valley of Samye and the golden spires of Samye Monastery are revealed to our view. We visit Samye Monastery during the afternoon and explore the surrounding village area. It's a nice time to relax a bit from our strenuous days on the trail with a comfortable night. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13: Drive to Tsedang. Depending on current road conditions, we may opt to drive and hop aboard a ferry to reach Tsedang. We also have the option to drive the entire way. Either way, it's a scenic and enjoyable morning, often with unexpected encounters! Upon our arrival in Tsedang we'll visit Tibet's oldest building — the Yongbulakhang. Sacred texts are said to have miraculously fallen on the palace roof — heralding the first appearance of Buddhism in Tibet. Overnight is at our hotel in Tsedang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14: Tsedang to Airport. Its time to say goodbye and depart Tibet. After breakfast, we will drive one and a half hours to Gongar Airport to catch the return flight back to Kathmandu. From Kathmandu it may be possible to get an evening departure connection home, but many travelers will want to reserve an optional evening tonight in Kathmandu — to depart the following day. Be sure to advise us of your preference or need! (Breakfast)
Post Trip: Generally it is a two day return (arrive home the day after you leave Tibet) for Americans crossing the international date line — to arrive home about midday. A dreamy day filled with wonderful memories — vignettes of new faces, places and friends in a land you'll never forget!
Important Note: This is meant only as a general guide to the schedule of our days. Changes can be made as we go along, based on local conditions, acclimatization, health and safety issues as well as government restrictions. Ascents, times and elevations given here are rounded off.
Travel Details: If you make your own flight arrangements to the trip meeting point, please schedule carefully. You must arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal by May 20, 2012 and depart from the trip in Kathmandu no earlier than the late afternoon or evening of June 2, 2012. Please consult Himalayan High Treks before you finalize your air ticket! Our entry date into Tibet as well as other information, is subject to government approval and change without notice. No responsibility can be assumed for delay, cancellation or unavailability of flights or for any missed connections.
You are welcome to travel early or stay for extra days at the end. We can arrange additional transfers, tours and accommodatons on request. There are convenient, inexpensive internet cafes within a leisurely walk from our city hotels.
Please see our Policy section for complete information on our trip cancellations policies. Payment for additional services may be required at the time the service is received. All prices mentioned in this document are in U. S. Dollars ($USD). Please refer to the booking information section of our application form for more information.
The Ganden To Samye Tibet Trek • Administrative Details:
(+) Land Cost (land cost as itinerary has described):
(+) In-Trip Airfare Estimate (air during itinerary program):
(=) Total Program Cost (Land & In-Trip Air costs combined):
Trip Deposit (submit with application):
Single Supplement (optional single accommodation):
Maximum Group Size:
Other Cost & Need Considerations:
Passport, Visa(s), Physicians Visit, Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance, Travel to/from Kathmandu (Nepal), Meals Beyond Above Itinerary, Beverages, Spending/Personal Money.
Moderate: Usually involves hiking an average of four to six hours each day — with some trekking time being spent at high altitude. Accommodations consist of evenings spent at tea or guest houses and tent camping along the trail.
March 20, 2012 ($100USD late fee thereafter)
The Ganden To Samye Trek Printable Itinerary:
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