Ganden Samye Valley Trek
Ganden to Samye trek is regarded as one of the best hikes in the world. It is a fulfilling and pleasant pilgrimage trip with much to offer, an overview of Tibetan Buddhism and religious culture, blue holy lakes, high snowy passes and mountains, lush alpine meadows, sporadic herders’ camp, tranquil Tibetan villages, time-honored sacred sites, finally culminating at the barren, desert-like surroundings near the Samye Monastery. If you travel to Tibet, we highly recommend you to try this trek, which will make your Tibet tour more interesting. Along the high passes, you will find secluded valleys — only inhabited by high-altitude nomads and their yaks. This is also a well-used pilgrimage route for Tibetans for it is 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)
Day 1 – Kathmandu Arrival
On your arrival at Kathmandu, Tribhuvan Airport, you will be met by a representative of Temples of Nirvana and taken to your hotel in the Thamel district of Kathmandu.
Day 2 – Swayambhunath Temple – Kathmandu Durbar Square
This will be the first of your sightseeing days in Kathmandu. In the morning we will head for Swayambhunath (Monkey) Temple. Swayambhunath is a UNESCO, World Heritage and one of the must see sights of the Valley. We will walk the 365 steps up to the Stupa. There is much to see, not least the three large Buddha statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche. in the park to the rear. In the afternoon we visit the Durbar square in Kathmandu
Day 3 – Kopan Monastery – Bouddhanath Stupa – Pashupatinath Temple
Our second sightseeing day in Kathmandu starts at Kopan Monastery perched majestically overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. Kopan is a little haven of serenity amongst the chaos of the Valley. We will then head for Bouddhanath, the Tibetan area of Kathmandu where the mightily impressive Bouddhanath Stupa is situated. The Stupa is the second largest Stupa in the world. In the afternoon we will make our way to Pashupatinath Hindu Temple.
Day 4 – Kathmandu – Lhasa
You will be taken back to Tribhuvan airport where we will take the flight to Lhasa. This flight is one of the most spectacular flights you could undertake. The route takes you right by Mount Everest and over stunning mountain scenery all the way to Lhasa. On arrival at Lhasa Gongar airport you will be driven the hour long journey into the city driving by the Potala Palace on your way to the hotel. The rest of the day can be taken at leisure exploring the Barkhor and the Tibetan Quarter.
Day 5 – Potala Palace – Sera Monastery
Our first full day in Lhasa will start with a visit to Tibets most iconic building. The Potala Palace stands majestically overlooking the Tibetan part of the city. Standing 13 stories high this magnificent structure has over 1000 rooms and required the skills of 1,500 artists and skilled workers and 7,000 laborers. It has been the winter residence since the 17th Century from the 5th to the 14th Dalai Lama. After lunch, we take the short drive to Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery was built in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. Sera means “The court of the wild Rose”, because of the many roses planted there. Today still 200 Lamas live there. The monastery is famous for the debating sessions of the monks.
Day 6 – Drepung – Norbulingka – Jokhang
Our second full day in Lhasa we visit Drepung monastery in the morning. Drepung means rice heap in Tibetan language, and lies 8 kilometers west of Mt. Gambo Utse, Drepung Monastery covers more than 200 thousand square meters. Once the largest monastery in the world, it was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey, a leading disciple of Tsongkhapa. From Drepung we will head back into Lhasa via the Norbulingkha, summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. Norbulingka is a palace and surrounding park in Lhasa, Tibet, built in 1755. It served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama’s exile in 1959. In the afternoon we will visit the Jokhang Temple. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It was founded during the reign of King Songsten Gampo around 642. According to tradition, the temple was built for the two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal.
Day 7 – Ganden Monastery & Drayerpa Cave
Today we will take the 60km drive up to Ganden Monastery. Ganden Monastery has extremely delicate and fine murals and sculptures. It also keeps an armor decorated with gems, which was worn by Emperor Qianlong and was bestowed to the monastery as an offering to Tsong Khapa. in the afternoon we will drive to Drayerpa Cave. Drayer Pa cave is 35 Kms away from Lhasa city. There are more than 30 caves for silence which take around one and a half hours to visit just some of them. We return in the evening back to Lhasa.
Day 8 – Trek from Ganden to Yama Do. Trek: 5 hours, 17km
This is a 5 hour trek. From the highest point of the Ganden kora, trek along an ancient trail and take in scenic views of unusual beauty. Walk along a ridge of reach the ancient Hepu village. In the afternoon, you’ll walk through Ani Pagong, a narrow part of the trail that was once home to a nunnery. In the late afternoon, ascend to Yama Do. Camp overnight at Yama Do.
Day 9 – Trek from Yama Do to Tsotup Valley. Trek: 4-5 hours, 10km
This trek takes 4 to 5 hours. Early in the morning, trek from Yamo Do through a steep gully to the banks of a stream. Climb to Shug La pass and begin the descent from there through fields of glacial boulders. Tsotup Chup is actually a large stream that flows through the valley, and we will cross this stream towards the end of the trek. Camp overnight in Tsotup Chu valley.
Day 10 – Trek from Tsotup Chu valley to Herder’s Camp
Go on an exciting 6-7 hour trekk covering 14km. Follow the Tsotup Chu towards the rocky mountain pass of Chitu La. Descend from there into the exquisitely beautiful camping grounds and fields around the tributary of the Tsotup Cho, walking through the picturesque Herder’s camp along the way. Stay overnight at the Herder’s Camp.
Day 11 – Trek from Herder’s camp to Wango
Trek from Herder’s Camp to Wango (25 km). This is a 6 hour trek. The trail widens and the walking becomes easier. Follow the trail through beautiful rivulets of water and fertile forests. There are many varieties of trees, scrubs, rhododendrons in full bloom, and vistas of meadows that will take your breath away.
There is also a desert not too far away. This part of the trek is really amazing. Along the way, you will pass the village of Changtang, and you can choose to hike to the holy Buddhist meditation site of Yamalung, an ancient hermitage. Eventually, the trail goes to the Samye valley along a beautiful stream. Camp at a site near Samye.
Day 12 – Samye and Tsedang. The Entrance of Samye Monastery
From the camp site a 2 hour trek takes you to Samye Monastery (14km), with spectacular views from Pisha and the vista of the Samye valley along the way. From the high point of Dragmar, explore many temples, and ruins. At Samye itself, explore one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites, Samye Monastery. Its ancient buildings are a Tibetan architectural masterpiece. Drive from Samye to Tsedang, the third largest city in Tibet. Stay overnight at a hotel in Tsedang.
Day 13 – Tsedang – Lhasa
Tsedang is known as “the cradle of Tibetan Civilization” for two reasons: first, its mild weather and fertile land conceived the great Tibet dynasty; second, it’s the birthplace of the first Tibetans who were said to be the offspring of a monkey and a demoness. Today you will visit the Yambulakhang and Trundruk monasteries.
According to a legend of followers of the Bon religion, Yambulakhang was erected in the second century B.C. for the first Tibetan king Nyatri Tsenpo, who was descended from the sky. Yumbulagang became a shrine and under the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, a monastery of the Gelugpa school. Yumbulakang monastery was severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution, though it has been extensively rennovated since. According to legend, the site where the Trandruk Monastery lies once was a large lake and an evil dragon with five heads lived in the lake. The evil dragon caused havok for the people living around the lake. In order to defeat the dragon and save the villagers, Songtsen Gampo turned into a roc and fought with the dragon, finally managing to kill it. The Trandruk Monastery was built to commemorate Songtsen Gampo’s great deeds. Many pilgrims come to Trundruk monastery to worship.
Drive back to Lhasa to stay overnight.
Day 14 – Lhasa – Kathmandu
We leave our accommodation early and take the hour long minibus journey back to Lhasa Gongar airport to get the China South West Airlines flight back to Kathmandu. As before this one and a half hour flight is one of the greatest flights you can take with spectacular views of mountain peaks from start to finish with the highlight being the view of Mount Everest from the right side of the plane as we approach Nepal and Kathmandu. The rest of your day can be spent at leisure. In the evening we will take you for a farewell Dinner, to an excellent traditional Nepalese restaurant where we will enjoy a Nepalese cultural program as well as a fine meal.
Day 15 – Depart Kathmandu
Depending on the time of your flight departure, you may have time for a little more sightseeing or shopping in Kathmandu. We will then take you to Tibhuvan airport 3 hours before the departure time of your flight home and see you to your departure terminal where we will say goodbye and hope very much, that you will have enjoyed your time with Temples of Nirvana
Cost of the Trip
The exact price of your trip depends on the date of travel and the number of travellers. We will quote you a price based on two people traveling together and sharing a twin/double room at a standard hotel in Kathmandu and in Tibet. If you require a single room or superior or deluxe accommodation please let us know. All prices quotes are starting from and ending in Kathmandu. The cost we quote you will include Lhasa – Kathmandu flight(s) and for your Tibet Visa. Please see our pages on Visas and Flights.
Airport pick up to hotel, hotel accommodation in Kathmandu, including breakfast, but excluding lunch and dinner, Farewell Dinner and Nepalese cultural program, all entry fees to Kathmandu places of interest, all transportation to places of interest.
All transportation, all accommodation including breakfast, but excluding lunch and dinner, Sightseeing Tours with English Speaking guide, Tibet visa fees, flight to and from Lhasa and Kathmandu.
What’s not Included
Nepal entry visa fee, All expenses of personal nature, Nepal re-entry visa fee, Insurance, Emergency evacuation.
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If the trip or itinerary you are looking for is not here, you would like to make modifications, or you have your own itinerary please let us know and we will quote you a price based on your own personalised specifications.