Hiking from Gandan Monastery to Samye is one of the most popular hiking trails in Tibet. The trip takes around 5 days, and covers a distance of 80 kilometers. Most of the route is located around 4000 meters above see level, while there are two passes, over 5200 meters, on the way.
The trip is suitable for people who have adapted themselves to the harsh weather conditions in Tibet. Regardless of the high elevation, it is a relatively easy route with no steep slopes and few branches.
You need to be well-prepared. As you will have two night camping, you need to bring a tent, a sleeping bag. Warm clothes are essential, as you will sleep one night at a spot over 4700 meters. Prepare some food, for food supply is not available for large part of the route.
Suggested Day by Day Itinerary
D1: Lhasa to Gandan Monastery to Yama Do
Walking easterward for around 2 hours, travelers will reach Gandan Monastery. Gandan Monastery was one of the three principle Gelugpa monasteries, with the other two being Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The monastery was built in 1409 by the legendary Tsong Khapa. THe most interesting thing of visiting the monastery is to attend a lesson of the Lamas at noon.
Snacks such as noodle, sweet tea are sold near the monastery entrance.
Trek further for about 3 hours to arrive at Yama Do via Hei Bu Valley. and camp at the village.
Yamado is a little village, which seems hundreds of years laging behind or mordern world. People there don't know TV and there is no TV sets in the village even there is power. Villagers live a traditional life, farming and tending their sheep.
Day 2 Yamado to Shug- la
The journey from Yamado to Shug-la is tough, which goes over Shug-la pass, 5256 meters above sea level.
Walking from Yamado for about 4 hours, travelers will reach Shug-La Pass. The road after the pass is a steep downhill with many debrils. Walk down the road for 1.5 hours, you will see a beautfiul river, along which is a very nice valley. Many travelers choose to camp at this valley.
Day 3: Tsotup to chu Valley to Herders' Camps ( 5-6 hrs, 14km, 300m ascent, 400m descent ).
Chitu-la pass is 5228 meters above sea level and it is easier to pass than Shug-La pass. Scenery on today's route is alpine mountains and lakes.
Day 4: Herders' Camps to ChanDa to NyuongGo to Samye Monastery
Large part of this stretch goes along a flat river valley. On both sides of the valley is lush vegetation, a stark difference to the bleak landscape you saw the last two days. A 1.5 hour's walk further will lead to ChanDa, a small village. The village seems out of the morden world, even it is a quite normal village in Tibet. The most advanced vehicle there is tractor. NyuongGo is 1 hour's walk away from ChanDa. The golden summit of Samya Monastery is visible at NyuongGo.
Samye Monastery is the first monastery in Tibet featuring Buddhist, laws and monks. The monastery was built in 779 AD. It covers an area of more than 4,900 square meters. The landscape around the monastery is golden desert. Surprisingly, there are rivers and dense forests in amid the desert. Travelers can choose to camp at the forest behind the monastery or live in a guesthouse.