Ganden to Samye Trek

A trek in Tibet from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery: over two high passes in 4 days


It is raining cats and dogs when I get on the bus to Ganden, but fortunately it is dry when I arrive and the monastery, beautifully situated in the mountains, emerges from the mist. On the bus I meet someone else who is planning the trek and of course we start walking together. We walk across alpine meadows (complete with gentian and edelweiss) where yaks graze; past black nomad tents and through beautiful valleys. We wade through torrents and swamps, cross two high passes (more than 5200 m, I’ve never been that high), freeze for a night at almost 5000 m… Then it’s all downhill, through a wild valley with remote mountain villages. On the 4th day we reach Samye – the last part on a truck full of country people, which drives almost unsuspended on the dirt road: everyone holds on to everyone else and so we are flung back and forth, up and down. Samye Monastery is beautifully situated on a granite mountain rising from the wide valley of the Tsangpo (=Brahmaputra). There are also sand dunes in the valley, a bizarre picture with the river in the background. The next day I cross the Tsangpo by boat, which takes 30 min because of the many sandbanks. It is amazing how mighty the river is even in Tibet, which seems so dry – but a look at the map shows that almost all of Asia’s big rivers rise in Tibet. Of course, the sparse vegetation is mainly due to the altitude and cold, even though a large part of the monsoon is kept out by the Himalayas.


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