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Region : Leh, Ladakh, J & K
Duration : 9 Days
Max Altitude : 11,123 Ft.
Approx Trekking Km : 75 Kms.
Best Time to Trek : Chadar get in good condition only after Mid January to Mid February, however it can change based on local climate.
Temperature : January to February- Day time -10C to -05C and morning/night -20C to -30C. Wind chill, freezing climate with snow fall.
Level of Trek : Zanskar Chadar trek is a difficult and trek goes to Max altitude 11,123 Ft. Proficient trekkers with high level of fitness
Batch Size : 10-12 trekkers including Male and female.
Age : 13+
The Start of the Journey
Across the Ice
ice can be as dangerous at times as it can be safe during others. One needs to
figure out the safe paths over the precarious sheet and must always be aware of
the ice conditions below the feet. The trekkers can choose to camp in the caves
along the banks like the locals or set up tents where the ice is the most
stable. The setting is close to twenty degrees below freezing point and
decreases further after sundown as well. Warm and layered clothes are
recommended as is being on the move as much as possible. These help invariably
in keeping the body warm and prevent cold sores and also keep the blood from
Better Safe than Sorry
is always recommended to be aware of the ice conditions at all times. There are
several factors to consider ensuring a safe journey. Most of these factors
involve the conditions of the ice and the footing choices of the trekker. The
§ The trekker must be aware of the ice sheet
§ There may be cracks in the ice which should be
§ Finding places with a coating of snow is the
best place to walk normally.
§ Slippery ice can be found on several sections
as well and should be walked on with utmost care.
§ Cracks may suddenly appear under one’s feet
and it is required to run to more solid footing immediately.
§ The ice is not a trekker’s friend and one
should always respect it and be aware of the conditions at all times especially
while choosing the camping spot.
Gear and Trekking Info
should be brought from home as there are not many places available at Leh
during the winter where supplies can be bought. Food that can be preserved and
made quickly such as instant noodles is an excellent addition. One should
always have enough before starting off as it is recommended to be moving for
the better part of the day in order to keep warm as well as keeping the journey
in momentum. Ice picks, trekking boots, several layers of extra warm clothing
are a compulsion in such conditions. Tents are recommended but optional as one
can easily camp in caves like the locals who journey across the river. However,
being a non-local, that idea may not be advisable and carrying tents is always
Day 1 :- Fly to Leh.
Day 2 :- Drive to Tilad Do via Chilling.
Day 3 :- Tilad Do to Shingra Koma.
Day 4 :- Shingra Koma to Tibb Cave.
Day 5 :- Tibb cave to Naerak camp.
Day 6 :- Naerak to Tibb Cave.
Day 7 :- Tibb Cave to Shingra Koma.
Day 8 :- Shingra Koma to Tilad Do and drive to Leh.
Day 9 :- Return from Leh.
over miles and miles of heavily snowed mountains will tell you just why it’s
impossible to reach Ladakh by road in the winters. The moment
you land at the Leh airport, one of the highest airports in the world, you will
feel the fresh and crisp air, and a drastic drop in the temperature. The town
has just begun shedding off the thick winter slumber and is slowly coming to
life. Taking a stroll through the Leh market, you will find that very few shops
and eateries in the town are open for business; but if required, some last
minute-shopping for the trek can be done here. The chill in the air will serve
only as a preview of the temperatures during this winter trek. The night is spent
in a copy guest house.
can start the morning by witnessing the sunrise from the Shanti Stupa , from
where you can get a panoramic view of the entire town of Leh and its
surroundings. You can also see the peak of stok
kangri almost beckoning you to climb it.
today’s agenda includes a very picturesque and thrilling long-drive to
Chilling. The roller-coaster ride takes you along the Indus to the village of
Nimu, where the Zanskar converges into Indus. After stopping at this confluence
point to take in the view, the drive continues and the road begins descending
right into the river valley. There are quite a few heart-stopping moments as
the vehicle negotiates the steep hairpin bends over snow covered road. The road
goes past Chilling to Tilad Do. Among these mammoth mountains, the feeling of
insignificance of one’s being does not escape anyone.
reach the camp-site, you have to cross the frozen Zanskar river and this is
when you take your first steps on the Chadar. It takes a while to get a hang of
walking on the ice sheet. As the evening comes, our team pitches tents on
the banks of the Zanskar, and hands out thick warm sleeping bags. To get some
exercise and keep warm, you can climb up the nearby mountains and get a good
look at the frozen river. As the sun sets, it drags the temperature down with
it, and the sleeping bags in the tents look quite inviting.
biggest challenge of this day, and all the remaining days, is to get out of the
warm toasty sleeping bags and go out into the giant freezer outside, but the
steaming cups of tea being served provide ample motivation.
is a long walking session, about 10 km, on the Chadar. The trek leaders give
a briefing about the day, and give tips on how to walk on the Chadar.
Depending on the weather, the Chadar can assume various forms. It can be a cold
and hard surface of slippery ice, or it can have a dusting of snow over it,
providing a good grip. The ice can be thick or thin, and its best to keep
closely following the guide. The locals, it appears, have a sixth sense as to
where exactly to step on the Chadar. At places, it might be
necessary to wade through ankle deep water, or climb on the cliffs at the side
of the river. Eventually you get used to walking on the Chadar, which looks
like a cross between gliding and skating. Mid way to Gyalpo, the
porter-cum-cooks prepare hot bowlfuls of soupy noodles for lunch. It is
important to keep up a decent level of fluid intake. Nothing makes you adapt to
the conditions faster than nicely circulating blood in your system.
passing Shingra koma, you reach the camp-site for the day at Gyalpo. The Gyalpo
campsite is at a bend in the river, surrounded by high peaks and walls of
rock-faces which almost look man-made. All that is left to do is to soak in the
views, have an early dinner and call it a day.
day follows the same early morning routine: bed tea at 7, breakfast at 8, and
quick-march at 8:30. Have a good breakfast, as today is the longest walk of the
day – almost 15 km. But that is nothing to worry about, all the walking keeps
you incredibly warm.
walk through the deep ravines of the Zanskar is stunning. The sublime walls of
the mountains on either sides of the river keep the sunlight away from the
Chadar for most part of the day. There are numerous caves in these mountains,
big and small. Today is the day when you can see frozen waterfalls, some higher
than the others. As the fable goes, centuries ago the local villagers faced a
dearth of water and went to Tibet to plead for water. They were given a box
which they were to open once they reached the village, and not any time sooner.
But curiosity got the better out of them, and when they opened the box, two
fishes jumped out of it, creating two huge waterfalls. One of those waterfalls,
miraculously, is not iced-up even in such freezing cold. The rocks below this
waterfall are covered with moss, and this is the only greenery you’ll see on
Tibb, there is a big cave. This cave is the dwelling of all the porters, and
they welcome you warm-heartedly in here. The highlight of the day is to share a
cup of butter-tea with them!
Day 5 :- Tibb cave to
is the most spectacular of all days on this trek. Walking on the river you
cross deep gorges and reach a point where Juniper trees are covered with prayer
flags. The porters give you a twig of this tree tied with a piece of prayer
flag as a badge of good-luck and good-health. A few steps away stands the
mother-of-all frozen waterfalls – a huge instance of suspended animation
several feet tall and equally wide. You can see dozens of colours in this
enormous ice structure as sunlight plays off its surface. Right next to the
waterfall is a bridge across the river which is a part of the summer-time road
from Zanskar to Leh.
Naerak village lies several feet above the river, a vigorous hour-long trek can
take you to the village if you want to see the life of a Zanskari. The camp is
set up close to the river.
you start the return journey and go back to the Tibb cave. And if you thought
that it was just a matter of retracing your steps back to Chilling, you can
think again. The Zanskar River reacts to the slightest change of temperature,
and constantly keeps repackaging itself. The Chadar would have assumed a completely
new form, and will it will almost be impossible to say whether you have been
the way, you can meet a lot of locals wearing their traditional woollen Gonchas
– some of them monks who are hiking from the Lingshed Monastery to Leh, some of
them young students accompanied by their parents returning to their schools in
Leh after the winter vacation. Watching the locals negotiate the Chadar is a
fascinating sight. They are suitably adept to the climate and seem very much at
home in the sub-zero temperature and the biting cold winds. Nothing wipes the
smiles off their faces and dampens the warmth of their spirit.
from Tibb, go up to Gyalpo today. The high walls of mountains rising from the
sides of the river almost look like castle walls. You can see several trails of
pug-marks all along the trek – footprints belonging to foxes, ibex or
snow-leopards. You would be lucky to view a snow-leopard; but you can almost be
sure that you are being watched by one all the time.
is the last day of treading on the Chadar – the last chance to
immerse in the pristine beauty of the frozen river. Once you reach Tilad Do, it
is time to say good-bye to the Zanskar and the Zanskaries. Our team and our
porters will take good care of you and make this trek one of the most memorable
experiences for you. Tonight you get to sleep in a warm guest-house again.
this unforgettable journey gets over, you depart from Leh having a newfound
respect for the Zanskaries who brave all odds and survive with style in their
beloved land. This trek also leaves behind a tremendous feeling of
accomplishment – one of having undertaken and endured an extraordinary and
challenging trek. The Chadar trek will be a cherished memory for life.
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