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12 Days Ganden to Samye Trekking

East of Lhasa
Start - Finish
Ganden - Samye
Shug-la (5250m), Chitu-la (5100m)
Medium to difficult
Summer to Autumn or mid-May to mid-October
Tented Camp
Trekking Time
5 Days
12 Days
Tour Map
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Ganden-Samye trek is the most popular trek in Tibet, connecting two of its most important monasteries, Ganden Monastery and Samye Monastery. This trekking route has much to offer: lakes, beautiful alpine forests and meadows, as well as two centres of Tibetan religious culture. With so much to offer, its popularity is understandable, but you should not underestimate the trek because of the high altitude in Tibet.

Itinerary Day by Day

Day 01 Arrive at Lhasa for acclimatization by air or train

Today's highlights:

Airport/train station transfer to hotel, Acclimatize to the High Altitude.


Fly into Lhasa or arrive in Lhasa by train. Local guide will meet you and transfer you to Lhasa. On the way, you can appreciate the heart-beating highland view along the Yarlong Tsangpo river (the longest river in Tibet and highest river on the earth with an average altitude of 4,000 meters), originating from Jiemayangzong Glacier on the northern Himalayas.

Day 02 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Fresco in Jokhang TempleToday's highlights:

Potala Palace, Jokhang temple, Barkhor Street


The cardinal landmark of Lhasa, Potala Palace, is a structure of massive portions. Its towering image already appearing on various occasions, but your first sight of the Potala will still be an awe-inspiring moment. Potala Palace is a place where you can appreciate the Tibetan culture, religion and art of architecture as well.

Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet. Every day, pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek a long distance to the temple to pray for their now and future. The temple is the product of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architectural techniques.

Barkhor Street, the oldest street in a very traditional city in Tibet.

Day 3 Lhasa Sightseeing

Drak Yerpa Hermitage for meditationToday's highlights:

Drak Yerpa, Sera monastery


This morning, our tour begins with a 20km-drive out of Lhasa to one of the holiest cave retreats in Tibet, the Drak Yerpa hermitage. In old times, some ascetics and kings have sojourned here for meditation. Among them, the most famous ones are Guru Rinpoche, Atisha, Lhalung and King Songtsen Gampo. Here we could visit some meditation caves once used by those famous figures, like Lhalung-puk (monk Lhalung), Dawa-puk (Guru Rinpoche) and Chogyal-puk (Songtsen Gampo).

Sera Monastery is one of the greatest Gelugpa monasteries. Around 5km north of central Lhasa, It was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choje, one of the eight disciples of Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect, covering an area of 114,964 square metres. The structure is imposing, picturesque in disorder, and splendid in green and gold. It is a typical Tibetan architecture. The 'Buddhism Scriptures Debating' in Sera is very famous.

We will drive to Ganden next day to start our trekking. This trekking route covers 80 kms and can be done in 5 days.

Time Chart

Day         Places to Trek           Trekking Time   Distance    Ascent     Descent
 1        Ganden-nomad camp        5.75 hours      17km      300m       450m
 2      South base of Jooker La      5.75 hours      10km     1000m       450m
 3            Valley junction             7.25 hours      14km      300m       400m
 4               Ninggong                 3.75 hours      25km                      600m
 5                Samye                    3.5 hours       14km                      600m

Day 04 drive from lhasa to Ganden, trek from Ganden to yama do

Our trek starts from here-Ganden MonasteryToday's highlights:

Today you will trek about 5.5 hours. Going up slopes, passing stone cairn, wading to the bank(during summer the river is 1 m deep), passing the steep cliff face.


An hour's drive out of Lhasa will take us to Ganden Monastery (3,800 m/12,467 ft), which was founded in 1409 by Je Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelupka (Yellow Hat) sect. We'll visit the monastery and after lunch drive to Gyama Valley, we'll arrange yak and do trekking preparation there.

Our trek begins from here. The trail gradually ascends for 1.5 hrs before reaching a saddle marked by a cairn with views of Kyichu valley to Lhasa. Traversing the west side of the ridge from the saddle, the trail reaches a spur surmounted by a cairn, a spring and then the village of Hepu in 2 hrs. 1hr from Hepu reaches Ani Pangong, a small nunnery. The trail climbs steadily for 1 hours through marshy meadows to Yama Do.

Day 05 trekking to Tsotup Chu Valley from Yama Do

Today's highlights:

Today you wiil trek about 5 hours. Passing the entrances of two side valleys, climbing to the Jooker La at times and going is quite steep. Then looking back from the top to see a grand panorama of mountain ranges. Ahead is a long waterfall. From pass, walk down scree slopes strewn with rocks. Zigzag along. Cross a valley.


In 2 hrs past Yama Do we ascend Shug-la pass (5250m). It takes at least 1.5 hrs from the basin negotiating boulders and lumpy ground along the final steep climb to the pass. The route continues cover the Shug-la pass following the cairned trail descending gradually and reaching the valley in 1.5 hrs from the pass. Cross the Tsotup Chu. Nomad herders with their herd of yaks, goat and sheep can be found here.

Day 06 Trekking to Herders's Camp from Tsotup Chu

Today's highlights:

Today you will trek about 5 hours. Walk up side valley to Sukhe La, lower and easier than the Jooker La. The climb is gradual except for a short, steep section near the top. Descend past two glacial lakes.


From the Tsotup Chu valley, follow a small tributary entering from the south-west. The route follows steeply upwards for 30mins until you reach a large basin. The terrain is not particularly difficult to reach Chitu-la pass(5100m) which is marked by several cairns. A short steep descent will bring you into a basin with three small lakes. The trail at many points is not clearly marked and goes past several seasonal camping sites before it reaches the valley floor.

Day 07 Trekking to Yamalung from Herders's Camp

Today's highlights:

Today you will trek about 5-6 hours. Head southwestward by descending the valley. Cross a log bridge and follow the river. Pass a deserted house. Go up the slopes.


The trail is now wide and easy to follow and goes through forest of shrubs and rhododendrons for 3 hrs. The trail winds through a series of meadows before reaching Gen Do, a place with a ruined stone structure. The forest thins rapidly and we reach the first permanent village of Chantan (4020m) after leaving Hebu. In 30-40 mins we arrive at the turn off at Yamalung Valley. Yamalung Hermitage is another 1 hour steep climb from the valley floor.

Day 08 Nyango Village to Samye Monastery via Wango and Dragmar(Trek ends)

Our trek ends here-Samye MonasteryToday's highlights:

Today you will trek about 3.5-4 hours. Walk down the easy Samye Valley.


From Yamalung Valley it takes 3.5-4 hrs to Samye. We go past the villages of Nyango, Wangon and Pisha. From the Pisha the entire lower valley of Samye and the golden aspires of Samye Monastery can be seen. En route there are several nice meadows for camping. Trek to Samye Monastery, our final destination.

Drive to Tsedang for accommodation. Tsetang is located in Shannan area which is the cradle of Tibetan culture.

Day 09 Tsetang - Yamdrok Yumtso - Gyantse

Karola Glacier is just on the roadsideToday's highlights:

Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, Karola Glacier


About hundred kilometers, you will appreciate the holy Lake of Yamdrok Yumtso Lake.The sacred lake of Yamdrok Yutso is revered as a talisman, supporting the life-spirit of Tibet. It is said that should its waters dry, Tibet will no longer be habitable. Down to the Lake to have a picnic or hike. On the way to Gyantse, have a look at the Karola Glacier.

Day 10 Gyantse - Shigatse

Today's highlights:

Dzong Castle, Pelkhor Monastery, Nunnery, Mountain Village Family Visit


Morning visit the historical city Gyantse, you will have great chance to appreciate the Old Town's sunrise at Dzong Castle.Visit the Pelkhor monastery for its famous Kumbum Pagoda. Besides Pelkhor, we will also visit a Nunnery to watch the chanting. After some time spent in Shalu Monastery

Drive to Shigates. On the way to Shigates have a mountain village family visit for a glimpse of everyday Tibetan life.

Day 11 Shigates - Lhasa

Today's highlights:

Tashilumpo Monastery, Local Market


Vsit Pachen Lama's seat palce, the great Tashilumpo monastery, a very big and complex monastery in Tibet, then take a look at the Local Market

Drive back to Lhasa.

Day 12 Bid farewell to Tibet

Today's highlights:

Airport/train station transfer, Say goodbye to Lhasa


Transfer to Gonggar Airport or Lhasa Railway Station to take flight or train out of Lhasa.

Tips for gANDEN-sAMYE Trek

1. The weather is changeable, as well as the temperature;

2. Lots of places are damp, so equipped with the waterproofed camera;

3. During the summer monsoon season, this region is subject to heavy rains, snow, and unsettled weather. But the mountains are at their greenest and wild flowers spangle the alpine meadows;

4. Respect the people here and respect their local custom;

5. Drink lots of water before departure;

6. No alcohol;

7. Avoid catching cold and bring some medicine.

Your Control on This Tour

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What Our Customers Say

"Kelsang is a very nice man, a professional Tibetan guide. He knows and loves his home and culture deeply. Our driver is a good singer of traditional Tibetan songs : ) Because of the winter season, we saw few domestic yaks, and we need more oxygen. Scenery along the overland trip is SUPER! Lhasa tour, Potala, city maket, old town, landscape, Shigatse monastery... Tibet is PRETTY good!!"

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