It is possible to head up the valley directly behind Samye to the Yamalung (also called Emalung) Hermitage, visible on the cliff face high above the valley, around 20km from Samye along a dirt road. It's a 45-minute steep climb to the hermitage, where the Tibetan wonder-worker Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated and received empowerment from the long-life deity Tsepame (Amitayus).
A small roadside teahouse run by the nuns of Yamalung sells soft drinks, beer and instant noodles, and there's fine camping across the bridge. To visit Yamalung, pre-arrange this in your tour itinerary – otherwise, your driver will likely object to the extra mileage. Yamalung is also the end point of the Ganden–Samye trek.