Chadar trek is the most mesmerizing trekking experiences in the world, an ultimate experience to be cherished for lifelong. There is no doubt that winter in Leh is spectacular! And it seems that nature has some special liking to Zanskar River. The River and its banks are covered in layers of pristine white snow and glittering ice crystals. The sky above cast a spell on the frozen Zanskar River with its million-dollar stars; if you notice during the night you can actually see the reflection of the stars on the solidified river. If you are an adventure seeker there is no way you can miss this awesome experience.
No doubt the trek is difficult as compared to some of the other treks, it is a route that connects villages in the Zanskar valley (deep in the mountains) with Chilling (on the road to Leh) along the frozen Zanskar River. This route has been used for centuries for trade and transportation when the ice is most stable, we recommend you travel during that time. Now, We should make it clear that the Zanskar River is big and fast flowing. For most of its length between Chilling and the Zanskar valley, the river is confined within a steep canyon. If the idea of walking over frozen river ice with a large pack on your back and very cold rushing water a few inches below your feet is terrifying, then you are not alone. The hike from Chilling to the Zanskar valley takes more than a week, but if you are a regular trekker then Chadar trek won’t be that difficult for you once you get acclimatised to the harsh conditions along with the right gears. The mind-blowing view during the day and the starry starry nights will be entrenched in every cell of your body.
Even though the trek is challenging but the reward is way more as compared to the challenge, and as the saying goes, what is life without a bit of challenge. This trek is bound to test your physical stamina and mental strength; you will not be the same person after the trek. Your perspective in life will be totally different, there will be a sense of serenity and tenacity in the way you handle your day-to-day affair.
Here’s the route that we have chalked ensuring that you can soak in all the beauty offered by nature during this trek. Also, enough time is spent at particular locations so that you are properly acclimatised to the conditions in the region.
Day 01: Arrive Leh; 3505 meters / 11567 feet.
Arrive at Kushok Bakula airport Leh – 3500m above sea level. We will head to the hotel and have breakfast there. First half we will be in the hotel and rest a bit. Post lunch in the hotel we will drive to visit Shanti Stupa & Leh Palace, Later in the evening walk around the local market. Dinner and overnight stay at the Hotel in Leh.
Day 02: Tour of Hemis, Thiksey Shey monastery, 3 Idiots School Campus Sindhu Darshan
After a leisurely breakfast, we drive to visit Hemis Monastery situated 45km west of Leh; Hemis is the largest and the wealthiest monastery in Ladakh. From Hemis, we drive back taking the same route to visit Thiksey Monastery, located on a hill-lock with formidable views of the Indus valley.
Thiksey is especially noteworthy for its gigantic seated statue of the Maitreya and is also known for its (Dukhang) assembly hall which houses hundreds of rectangular prayer books, stacked between wooden covers and bound in silk. After that, we continue to drive through a series of chortens to visit Shey Palace the former summer palace of the King of Ladakh. 3 Idiots School Campus Sindhu Darshan visit. Overnight stay at the hotel
Day 03: Leisure day
After a leisurely breakfast, all the group members have to go for a medical check-up to SNM hospital, this is a mandate by the government and we cannot avoid it. Once doctor gives a green signal we are more confident for the trek, latter we explore Leh town by walk to by your own, overnight stay at the hotel. We do three days in Leh so that you are very well acclimatised to the conditions and you will be fine during the medical check-up
Day 04: Drive to Tilad Do via Chilling
Today’s agenda includes a very picturesque and thrilling long-drive to Chilling. After stopping at this confluence point to take in the view, which is awesome, the drive continues and the road begins descending right into the river valley. The road goes past Chilling to Tilad Do. Among these mountains, the feeling of insignificance of one’s being does not escape anyone.
To reach the campsite, we have to cross the frozen Zanskar; and this is when we 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, the team pitches tents on the banks of the Zanskar, and hands out thick warm sleeping bags. We do some exercise to keep us warm and as the sun sets, it drags the temperature down with it, and trust me the sleeping bags in the tents look quite inviting.
Day 05: Tilad Do to Gyalpo
The 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 provide ample motivation. Today is a long walking session, about 12 km, on the Chadar. The trek leader gives 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 the slippery ice, or it can have a dusting of snow over it, providing a good grip. The ice can be thick or thin, and if you are smart you will follow the guide closely. 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, it is going to be fun. Midway to Gyalpo, the 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.
After passing Shingra Koma, we reach the campsite for the day at Gyalpo, where the team has already pitched the tents. 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 06: Gyalpo to Tibb Cave
This day follows the same early morning routine: bed tea at 7, breakfast at 8, and quick-march at 8:30. We will have a good breakfast, as today is the longest walk of the trek– almost 14 km. But that is nothing to worry about; all the walking keeps you incredibly warm. Today’s walk through the deep ravines of the Zanskar is stunning. The sublime walls of the mountains on either side of the river keep the sunlight away from the Chadar for the 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 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 this trek. At 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! Yummy!!!
Day 07: Tibb Cave to Naerak
Today 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 will 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. The 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. Hope you don’t get excited and go skinny-dipping, which would be nice though.
Day 08: Naerak to Tibb
Today we start the return journey and head back to the Tibb cave. And if you thought that it was just a matter of retracing your steps back to Chilling, then you are in for a surprise. 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 almost be impossible to say whether you have been here before. On the way, you can meet locals wearing their traditional woollen gonchas – some of them will be monks who are hiking from the Lingshed Monastery to Leh, and some 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 adapt 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.
Day 09: Tibb to Gyalpo
Starting from Tibb, we will 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 pugmarks 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 one is watching you all the time.
Day 10: Gyalpo to Tilad Do, and drive to Leh
This 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 goodbye to the Zanskar and the Zanskaries 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 guesthouse again.
Day 11: Depart from Leh
As 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.
This trek is a must if you wish to challenge yourself and have an extraordinary experience.
For travel details, you can reach out to me on 7506921669 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org