Chadar Trek situated in Zanskar range of Ladakh, is touted to be one of the most difficult treks in the world. The trek is most enjoyable during the harsh winters when the Zanskar river is transformed into a pristine white sheet of ice. No matter how breathtaking the view might be, Chadar trek is not everyone’s cup of tea. The snow-capped mountain and stunning beauty of the locales draw many tourists to this jaw-dropping high altitude trek every year.
This trek is named Chadar because of the sheet of ice that river transforms into during peak winters. The sheet of white ice looks like a blanket hence the name became Chadar. The temperature during daytime drops to minus 15 to 20 degrees during day while the night becomes as cold as 23 to 25 degrees.
The best time to go for Chadar trek is from mid-January to mid-February. The Zanskar river freezes into a complete solid sheet of ice. You can walk on the massive white slabs of ice that are spread across miles. However, not everyone can take up Chadar trek. From 2019 onwards, it has become mandatory to undergo a medical examination at SNM Hospital at Leh post post which a fitness certificate will be provided. Without that fitness certificate, nobody is allowed to take the Chadar trek. This rule has been post several cases of Acute Mountain Sickness that causes breathlessness, nausea, hallucination and much more.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Zanskar region of Ladakh|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive by 10:00 AM|
|ALTITUDE||3,475 m (11,400 ft)|
|AVERAGE TEMPERATURE||Day time: -3°C to -10°C; Night time: -10 °C to -30°C|
Day 1: Reach Leh
The best route to reach Leh is via Delhi. There are direct flights from Delhi to Leh which take around 1 and a half hour to reach. On reaching Leh, you can enjoy the local market and enjoy some bike rides in the locality. Then you can proceed to the guest house to recharge your energy to start the trek.
Day 2: Acclimatize at Leh
Witness the sun rise from the Shanti Stupa where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the great Himalayas. This day has been kept in the itinerary to let you acclimatize according to the high altitude conditions. You will be advised not to spend lazing around in your room as it won’t help your body to acclimatize.
Day 3: Medical Examination
As we told above, Chadar Trek is not allowed without a prior medical examination. You will wake up early to reach the medical camp. After finishing the insurance formalities, you can proceed for the trek only if you are deemed medically fit to take the trek. If not, you will be sent back.
Day 4: Drive to Shingra Koma and trek to Tsomo Paldar
The next morning, you will begin the day by taking a drive to Shingra Koma. The bumpy ride takes you through the picturesque views to the village of Nimu, where the Zanskar converges into Indus. This particular point is popular for taking panoramic pictures. Then comes the moment when you will set your first foot on the frozen Zanskar river. The camp will be set aside the banks of river Zanskar. The guide will brief you about the trek details and train you on how to walk on the Chadar.
Depending upon the weather, the ice can be thick or thin. The local trekkers know where to land their foot. At some places you will be required to wade through ankle deep water at the side of the river. Finally you will reach the twilight camp site for the day at Tsomo Paldar where you will retire after having dinner.
Day 5: Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave
On this day, you will see the frozen waterfalls on the either side of the river. The rocks below the waterfalls are covered with moss and it’s the only green thing you will see at Zanskar. After wading through ankle-deep water and walking the ice sheet, you will reach the Tibb Cave where you will settle down for the day.
Day 6: Tibb Cave To Naerak Camp
On this day, you will cross the deep gorges. There are juniper trees which are covered with prayer flags. You can get a twig of this tree with a piece of prayer flag as a souvenir and good luck. You will also see a mammoth frozen waterfall, several feet tall and wide. Right next to the waterfall is a bridge which leads to Leh from Zanskar during summer time. Then you will set your camp for a cosy sleep and energy recharge.
Day 7: Naerak To Frozen Water Fall And Come Back To Tibb Cave
After the hard work of 5 days of trek, you will become an expert of walking on the Chadar. You can also spot ibex and bharal on the slopes. If you get lucky, you might even spot a snow leopard. After a little sightseeing and bird watching, you will come back to Tibb Cave camping site.
Day 8: Tibb Cave To Shingra Koma Drive back to Leh
You will begin your return journey from Tibb. You will go up to Gyalpo. The high walls of mountains on the either sides of river look like castle walls. You can take pictures with your friends lying down on the sheet of ice. After coming back, retire in your guest house and relive the moments in your memories.
Day 9: Return from Leh
You will return back to Leh after a gruelling yet thrilling Chadar trek. After reaching Leh, you can take your preferred conveyance mode to reach Delhi. You can take a flight or a cab, as your budget suits you.