Alternatively known as the Zanskar Gorge trek, the Chadar trekking tour is conducted in the thick of winter on a solidly frozen Zanskar River. No doubt an extremely glamorous trek, its better noted that the Chadar vicinity happens to be severely inhospitable with nighttime temperatures falling to minus 20 and 25. The frozen ice face on the river makes for a treacherous walk as day time temperature rises with the sun shining on the ice. At many places, the ‘chadar’ or shroud of ice doesn’t form thickly on the waters and that’s where one has to forge new trails on the embankment. Though gradient-wise, not a severely exacting trail, the route to Chadar is fraught with unique challenges, out of the world sceneries, an ever-transforming trail, and the whimsies of the frozen river. Select this trek to push your boundaries for persistence and survival, receive unique exposure to local people who survive extreme challenges every day in search of livelihoods in this desert of ice and snow, and experience the ever-present sense of danger.
Nearly a 9-day trek the Chadar journey in the Ladakh region flags off from Tilat Sumdo after reaching the base camp at Leh. Further on, the trek will take you through Shingra Kogma and on to Tibb, and finally reaching Nerak village at nightfall to camp. The entire route is made of ice sheets and crosses by enthralling sights of waterfalls frozen in their cascading fall. The vertical ice walls rising up to 600 m high around the Chadar of frozen river are stark and jagged on the top, adding to the visual drama of the region. People with loads to carry cross these paths with sledges, making up an image no way recognizable with the visuals of India as we know it! The abysmally low dropping temperature after sundown calls for intensively layered clothing on this trek. Attention to fitness from a few months prior to the trek is highly essential. To battle the extremes of weather and make the whole journey enjoyable, it’s important to improve core strength and stamina with 5 hours of walk every day on an average on this trek. Many trekkers also choose to take a preventive course of medicine (under doctor’s advice) to keep altitude sickness at bay. Besides the unreal slice of nature that trekkers would be absolutely thrilled with, there’s a rare cultural quotient to find on this trek as well. Life in the Zanskari villages is as fascinating as it gets at this isolated edge of the world!
The Chadar Trek reaches to a maximum altitude of 12, 628 ft, beginning on day 1 from 11,400 ft from Leh.
The most appropriate time to go on the Chadar Trek is between January and February. During this time at the peak of winters, the river remains solidly frozen, though, during the day, the ice cover can be treacherously thin.
The trek can be accessed from Leh, the headquarters of the Ladakh region. Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh can be reached through connection with many major airports in India.
Are There Any Shops Available On the Chadar Trek?
This is a completely isolated part of the country to trek in, with not too any shops to be found on. Food can be available from the Zanskari villages on the way.
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Chadar Trek?
The Chadar trek takes around 8/9 days to complete starting from Leh and ending the trek in Leh.
Chances of altitude sickness remain high on this trek. Taking a course of Diamox under medical guidance is essential. Also, fitness training plays an important role in enjoyably taking this trek.
The Chadar Trek is not opted for by a lot of mainstay trekkers owing to the supremely harsh climatic condition and hardships on the trek. You can expect moderate traffic on the trail from January to February.