Some locations in India are so incredible that it puts our International vacancy lust to shame. Agreeing on the fact that India is totally incredible in all parts, hand down, but some places in the country are that part of the heaven where we believe some sort of magic has happened.
Ladakh is one of those places which seems super magical in the pictures and the people like me who have been there knowing the diversity and the real beauty of the place.
Other than touring and chilling in the leisure mode in the city, Ladakh is also famous for trekking and camping activities. There are various adventure activities that happen in Ladakh.
Trekking is one of the most common adventure activity of the state because Ladakh has a lot of trekking spots. And one such famous trekking spot of the place is the Chadar trek which is also known as Zanskar gorge.
It is a frozen river trek having the winter trail and is spectacular. It is one of the most beautiful treks of the Ladakh area.
About the Trek
Have you ever walked on the sheets of ice? Or have you thought about doing so? Well, if not, then this is really possible if you decide to go on a trek at the Chadar trek in the Ladakh area. Chadar trek is called the frozen lake trek because you would be literally walking on the sheets of ice which is frozen on one side and melting on some others.
This trek is challenging as well as unique because of several reasons but it is also one of the most popular treks of the Ladakh region. One reason why it is unique and challenging is that this is a lake on the frozen river and it is done only during the winter season. Isn’t this enthralling to the next level.
On the Zanskar river, the thick sheet of ice gets formed and it looks like a white blanket. This is the reason why is it called as the Chadar trek. It is challenging for sure but another unique thing about this trek is the trek gradient is mostly flat. There will be minimal climbing involved in the trek but mostly it is a flat gradient trek.
It is a 9-day glamorous trek over the frozen river where the average temperature during the day falls to minus 10-degree centigrade. And the temperature during the night time falls down even lesser to minus 20 to 25-degree centigrade. This shows that the temperature during the night time is unbearable.
The color of the river keeps on changing as there is the sheet of ice formed somewhere and somewhere the ice is not stable. Though after all these unique things, this trek is not at all strenuous. The trekkers can beat the challenges of this trek and also the experiences gathered in this trek are unwatchable. And this is the reason why a lot of new and inexperienced trekkers go on this trek.
The trail type of the trek is along the frozen river and the trek gradient is said to be difficult with easy steps. It is a 9-day trek which is going to be hell exciting and one is going to experience amazing things here. The maximum altitude of the trek is 11,100 feet and the trekking distance is 62 km approx.
Trekking at the Chadar trek would make you feel trekking at the North Pole where the temperature falls extremely low and below your feet will be a land of ice and water. You will also come across a waterfall named as Narek waterfall where you will witness a sort of frozen waterfall and the site is amazing to the core.
Day 1 – Reaching Leh
The trekkers have to report at Leh from their respective cities and the group gathers here at Leh.
A small orientation and a briefing session are held at Leh and post that the trekkers would have to check in the hotel for overnight stay and dinner. The day is left with the trekkers to explore with their fellow trekkers.
Day 2 – Acclimatization at Leh
The 2nd day is also dedicated for a stay at Leh. It is a casual day where the trekkers could stay at Leh, have rest or go out to explore the beautiful city a bit.
There is a lot to explore in Leh and if you are not exploring it, you are missing out on a lot of natural beauty. When in Leh, do not miss the chance to not explore the place.
Day 3 – Leh to Shingra Koma
The trek finally and officially starts from the 3rd day. The drive starts from Leh to Shingra and it is a 70 km drive.
In this 3 hour drive, you would experience some of the most spectacular sights like the confluence of the two rivers namely Zanskar and Indus. You will be given the tips and tricks on how to walk on the ice sheet.
Day 4 – Shingra Koma to Tibb
The next day, the trek commences to Tibb from Shingra Koma. The trek on this day is of about 14 km and the maximum altitude of the trek is 10,760 feet. To cover the distance of 14 km it would take around 7 hours as walking on the ice is very tough.
The blue Zanskar river looks amazing. You would get the sunshine for very few hours here.
Day 5 – Tibb to Nerak
Nerak waterfall is one of the most amazing waterfalls one would ever see in their lifetime. And on the 5th day, you will see this waterfall. Nerak is going to be the campsite of this day and the trekkers would experience the Nerak waterfall at their campsite. This waterfall is said to be the mother of all waterfalls.
Some other amazing sights of the place are the local yaks which are found grazing at the place.
Day 6 – Nerak to Tibb
This is a 12 km trek back to Tibb from Nerak. But a unique thing is that the trekkers are not going to see the same view or the scenes again on their way back.
The Zanskar river keeps changing its form as per the change of the temperature so the scenes are not going to be the same. You will also come across slippery uneven ice surface and this area is tough to walk on and cross.
The overnight will be spent at the camps at Tibb.
Day 7 – Tibb to Bakula
The 7th day of this trek is the last day which is going to be strenuous. It is a 12 km trek and the maximum altitude of the trek is around 10, 550 feet. It would take around 8 hours approx to complete this trek. You will get a lot of sunshine only in the early morning and then the place becomes windy.
The nights would be spent at the campsites at Bakula.
Day 8 – Bakula to Shingra Yokma
The trek ends on the 8th day when the trekkers make their way back to Shingra Yokma from Bakula. The sun shines brightly at this destination and one would feel that they missed sunshine from a lot of days. You can enjoy some time at the campsite of Shingra Yokma and also explore the local market of the city.
The last night of the trekkers of this trek is arranged at the hotel so the trekkers have to head towards their hotel.
Day 9 – Departure from Leh
The trek officially ends on the 9th day and the trekkers make their way back from Leh to their respective cities. But, on the last day, a small meal is arranged for the trekkers. This is the last day when the trekkers would be together for this trek and then the trekkers make their own way.
Location and How to Reach
Chadar Trek is located in the Ladakh region. To be precise, the Chadar trek is located in the Leh area at the Zanskar river.
Ladakh is very well connected via railways, roadways and the airways. The trekkers can choose any of the transport mediums of their choice. One has to start the trek from Leh so every trekker has to reach the city by any mode of transport.
The nearest airport for this trek is Leh airport. The nearest railway station for the Chadar Trek is the Jammu Tavi railway station which is in the Jammu state. And one can easily reach Leh by the public and private transport via the roadways.
Chadar trek is called as the Chadar trek because the ice forms a sheet-like cover over the river in the white cover which looks like a blanket. So, the trekkers have to walk on the ice sheet on the frozen river. So, this is quite a unique and different kind of trek. The trek level is obviously difficult but the trek gradient is not so tough so the trekkers can beat the toughness if they are determined.
The trek gradient is mostly flat with minimum climbs so the trekkers would not have much difficulty in crossing the area. But the flat gradient is also quite slippery in some areas. And the ice never behaves in the same way. In some areas, it is slippery as it is melting and in some areas, it is not melting.
The sun rays are extremely low in this trek and would be available only during the early morning time. The trek is a winter trek and is popular in the months of December of February when the temperature of the whole country is extremely low. The temperature during these months at Chadar trek is generally in the minus category.
Though in spite of all these, this trek is also available for the beginners and a lot of new trekkers go to experience the beauty of this trek. The instructions by the guide and the briefing sessions given before the trek are enough to make you capable for this trek.
The trails that one needs to cross at the Chadar trek are easy. You will only come across the frozen river, snow-capped mountains on all sides and Narek waterfalls which is the mother of all waterfalls.
This is a 9-day trek so the professional trekkers who have been on longer treks can easily pass this trek. Apart from the professional trekkers and the beginners, every adventure enthusiast who wishes to enjoy the treks can go on this one and have an amazing time. It is your willpower that would help you cross this trek.
Things to Carry
A Backpack with all your necessities to cover the entire Chadar Trek.
A rain cover because you cannot predict the Chadar hiking temperature. The climate is really unpredictable and the temperature even falls incredibly during the daytime which you would not have thought.
Water bottles and all your refreshments which include all sorts of hydration packs which you prefer to keep you energized.
Snacks like the energy bars and the protein bars which would give you instant energy during your trek. During the non-meal hours, you can eat these and get back on the track with full energy.
Personal Medical Kit with all the necessary first aid items and medicines which you feel you will need. It is always advisable to take medicines for dizziness, upset stomach, headache, and cold and cough while being in Himalayan camps or anywhere.
Pack your outfits with all the relatable clothing items like wind and waterproof jackets, t-shirts, track pants, thermal inners, trekking shoes and fleece jackets. All the necessary winter outfits for the winter treks.
All the toiletries products in a bag because you will need them the most.
Also do not forget to take your extra accessories like the sunglasses, caps, gloves, walking stick, torch, and similar other items. These products are really important and you would not get the chance to buy them anywhere while being on the trek.
You must avoid the sports shoes, jeans, and shorts while going to the Himalayan camp. It is always better to stick to the trek pants and the joggers. They keep you comfortable and perfectly fine while walking up and down the rocky ridges.
We also advise you to keep extra joggers with you. And as far as possible to stick to the thicker fabrics because it would be cold over there.
Do carry a pair of gloves as you will need them the most.
ATM Points and Connectivity
The last ATM point that you will get before you start with the Chadar Trek is at Leh. Leh is a well-planned town with good connectivity so you can easily find ATMs here. Since it is one of the most popular tourist and adventure places of the country, finding ATM would be quite easy here.
If the trekkers have to withdraw the money for the emergency use then this is the last accessible spot.
And even the last area to receive the phone connectivity before starting the Chadar Trek will be at Leh. As you keep progressing and cross this place, your phone connectivity gets weaker and eventually will be lost as the area after that is not friendly with the phone connectivity.
You may find weaker phone connectivity after this but finding an ATM would really be difficult.
Permissions and Permits
Before going to trek any Himalayan destination including the Chadar Trek, you need to take permission and the permit of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) to let your Himalaya trekking expedition go smooth. It takes one day to issue this permit.
These permits and permissions are really important to take before going on any Indian trek because they are ones who give you the authority to enter a certain region.
If you are going on a trekking expedition through a trekking company then they take these permissions on your behalf and sort your issues. They take the permission for the whole troop. These things make it easier and better to go for any trek in a group that too through trek service providers.
All costs of permissions/permits are included in the package. Even our professionals would do this on your behalf and take all the required permissions.
But the trekkers need to carry their id proofs, and the non-Indian trekkers also need to carry their passports. You must also take your medical certificate along with you to prove that you are fit enough to go on this trek.
My Experience with the Chadar Trek
To be honest, I was skeptical about this trek even after being on some treks before. I have read a lot about this trek and have researched some people’s real stories on it as well. But I was not convinced enough to try this trek. I had in my mind that I would be walking on the frozen river ice sheets and sleeping in the snow and this experience would be the utmost. But somehow I did not want to have these experiences.
But, somehow things worked out and I decided to go on this trek with one of my trekker buddies. I had seen videos of this trek about how the temperature becomes stressful and unbearable for the trekkers but still, I wanted to be there.
Leh has been one of my favorite Indian destinations and I going there was always a Yes for me. The day we started with the trek, I could experience the sunshine getting weaker every day. It was not the same as what I saw at Leh. And I got to know that will keep happening and I was prepared for it.
Walking on the frozen ice sheets was fun but also strenuous because your legs somehow become numb and you cannot move further. The distance of the trek is longer and ice sheets make it tough to walk.
One of the most difficult things was waking up in the morning and coming out of the warm tents to start the trek. The temperature was freezing as it minus but it was also quite fascinating to see the views of the early morning at that temperature. Because of the temperature, there was never a dull moment amongst the trekkers because there was always something new to experience.
Reaching the top, viewing the Nerak waterfalls and the local yaks were definitely one of the best treats for the eyes. It was as if we were somewhere chilling at the North Pole with ice all around your eyes.
The best part was obviously coming down because we had already achieved what we wanted and we came down. We could finally view sunshine and get stable at a normal temperature.
This was hands down one of the best experiences and adventures I had in my life. The spectacular views that we got to experience at this trek were simply out of the world.
Best Season to go on a Chadar Trek
Chadar trek is a winter trek. In fact, it is one of the most common winter treks in India. There would hardly be a trekker who has not been to this trek. The professional trekkers surely explore this trek at least once in their life.
Since it is a winter trek, the best season to go on this trek is from December to February. People also extend the trek till the months of March because the temperature in the Leh area is mostly lower.
One of the most common reasons why the popular Chadar trek is a winter trek is because the beauty of the Chadar trek lies on the frozen river ice sheets. The major trail of the Chadar trek is walking on the ice sheets that are formed on the frozen river of Zanskar.
The frozen ice sheet is formed in the months of winter when the temperature of the place is in minus. So, this beauty can be experienced only during the months of winter. Hence, this is a winter trek.
If you are looking for some amazing winter treks then you must choose this trek because the exact beauty of the winters is experienced during these months. Also, during the months of January and February, there is very little sunshine which makes the trek even more challenging and entertaining.
During this season, you would also watch the scene of the ever so gorgeous Nerak waterfalls in a frozen manner. This is the mother of all waterfalls and the real beauty of this can be experienced during the winter season only.
Also, during the months of January and February, the trekkers can catch the sight of local yaks which is amazing and you would not find it the other way. During this season, you would find a lot of fellow trekkers and this makes the whole expedition even more interesting.
How to Prepare for the Chadar Trek?
Pack a Lot of Winter Clothes
As we have already told that this is a winter trek and the temperature at this trek during the winter months fall below minus, so it will be extremely cold. This shows that you need to carry a lot of winter outfits because less than four to five sheets of clothes will make you sick because of the temperature.
You will not be able to cope with the temperature if you are not wrapped under the layers of winter clothes.
Pack Shoes for the Frozen Ice Sheet
This trek is much different than any other trek you will ever experience. The major trail of this trek is the frozen ice sheet in the frozen river. So, the normal trekking shoes won’t work for this trek. You must walk the correct shoes for walking on the trail of this trek.
You will be given the briefing session on what kind of shoes are the best and the most appropriate for this trek, so you will be sorted there.
Take Medicines for Beating the Cold Wind Strokes
It is a winter trek which will be done during the winter season without any sun’s rays and with the extremely chilly wind. The temperature condition of the trek is not bearable and is totally different from that of normal living conditions.
So, you must be ready with all kinds of medicines to beat the cold. It is always advised to carry your personal first aid kit with all the necessary medicines when you go on any trek.
Precautions for the Chadar Trek
You strictly have to follow the rules laid down by the professionals when you are in the mountains. Ignoring these can land you in some serious troubles.
Go for trekking at Chadar only during those seasons when the temperature is bearable and trekking is fun rather than strenuous.
Pack very light because the trek is for 9 days. But make sure to carry all your necessary items especially your medicines.
Have a research about the geography, wildlife, picturesque sights and a lot more alike things so that you don’t miss out on any fun. Having a prior research of the place is always a better idea.
Do not skip the briefing session which is conducted prior to the start of the trek. This is a really important session where you are taught about the entire trek. If you miss the important details here then it may be difficult for you later.
Refill your water bottles whenever possible because staying hydrated while trekking is one of the fundamental things to be strict about.
Do have a record of all the important numbers with you. You never know when the situation of emergency happens and you may require these contacts.
Have enough waterproof bags to secure your gadgets like the phones and the cameras. You must have a back up for protecting your things.
Keep your walking pace same with the other trekkers. Do not be so over enthusiastic to walk faster and be the first one to reach. Also, do not be extremely slow. In both the cases, you may face premature fatigue.
You are bound to get some frostbites on your feet for sure so you must wear good quality footwear and fitted boots. Fitted boots or the trekking boots would ensure that you would not trip.
Also, other than the shoes, you must wear the socks which ensures correct blood circulation on your feet. Trust the fabric keeping the weather of the place in mind.
Do not start your trek without taking your id proof. You will need this for sure. You cannot make your trek without your id proofs. If you don’t carry your id proof then you may not be allowed to start the trek.
Best Things to do on a Chadar Trek
One of the most common activity to do at the Chadar trek is enjoying the born fire.
This is something that is enjoyed on almost all the treks and so can be enjoyed here as well. But the temperature may sometime not allow doing such activities if there is a snowfall.
Camping in the Snow
The nights would be spent at the warm tents and the camping would be done at all the various points of the trek. Camping is really fun as it gives the trekkers a warm ambiance inside the camps and tents. This is the most relaxing thing to do on the Chadar trek.
Experiencing the Nerak Waterfalls
Nerak waterfall is believed to be the mother of all waterfalls and the trekkers get to spend some time and view this exotic waterfall. The waterfall is frozen and gives amazing views.
Experiencing how Ice Changes its Form over the Frozen River
In some areas, the ice is melting and in some areas, the ice is frozen. The ice keeps on changing its form and experiencing it is something out of the world. Walking on ice and not on the glacier is something amazing and fascinating to the next level. You would be feeling that you are in North Pole or Antarctica with ice all around and no sunlight.
Necessary Trekking Equipment
When you are all ready for the Chadar Trek, make sure to carry at least a pair of 12 to 14 crampons.
Ice axe is really important for the treks. So, one non-technical ice axe would do.
To try out some adventurous activities, these are needed. So, make sure to carry a climbing harness and a carabineer.
Map of the Trekking Are
You would be given the map of the trekking area on the day of briefing session. At no cost, ignore this. This is the most important thing you need to carry while trekking.
Another one of the most important things while trekking that you will need without a doubt is a sleeping bag and a sleeping liner. You will not be able to sleep without this. So, this should be the first thing on your packing list.
You could have either a head torch or any small torch with a good voltage of light. Also, take spare batteries with you so that you can refill the torch.
Polarizing Sun Glasses
To avoid the potential snow blindness, which a lot of people face, you must carry a pair of polarizing sunglasses with you.
This is again a thing you need to carry for any trek. You will be told at the briefing session to carry a swiss knife for sure before going on the trek.
Last but not the least, a trekking pole is something which you need to carry for your Chadar Trek or basically any other trek.
Where Can I rent trekking equipment for the Chadar Trek?
No matter how frequently you go trekking, we would advise you to rent the trekking equipment for every trek. This not only this reduces the trekking cost but also your burden of taking care of these types of equipment forever. You just have to take care of these types of equipment while they are with you and no maintenance cost is required.
Trekking types of equipment are really expensive and you can cut down on these extra costs. If you are wondering where to rent the trekking pieces of equipment of good quality, here are some of the websites.
Trekking Tents on Rent
Shoes on Loose
Rent on Go
These were some of the best websites for renting the trekking equipments. If you are comfortable renting the trekking equipments offline, you may even do that.
How good is Chadar trek for a solo travel plan?
No doubt that any kind of traveling or trekking is always fun with your friends and buddies around. But there are chances that your friends and mates would not always accompany you for all the travels that you wish to do.
In that case, most people tend to drop down their plan because no one is accompanying them. Because of this, a lot of travel plans never gets successful. So, it is always advised to go on these travels alone. Solo trips are the best kind of trips in which you can explore a lot and all by yourself.
Same goes for the treks and the adventure trips as well. There are a lot of adventure troops and trekking groups that organize such kinds of adventurous trips for the like-minded adventure enthusiasts. Going on the treks with such groups is always the best idea because you get to meet a lot of like-minded people who are as willing as you to go on a particular trek.
The Chadar trek is also a great trek to go solo because this is an intense trek and you will face a lot of intense situations. So, experiencing them all alone without anyone is really challenging giving you the lifetime experience.
The already adventurous trek would be ten times more adventurous for you if you go solo with a lot of new people all around. You will make some of the most exciting memories alone on this trek which you would not have made along with your friends.
Cost of this Trek
The starting price of Chadar Trek is Rs.19000 The price is per person and it is of a total duration of 9 days.
Inclusion in this package
Traveling expense during the trek.
Guide and Support Team
Alcohol and drugs.
Is Guide Required
Before starting the trek, there will be a briefing session given to you where the professionals would be giving you the most important tips and tricks. Attending this session is very important. They brief you about the entire trek in advance and also list the precautions and various other things.
Apart from this, a guide is important to lead you in any trek. A good service provider who provides you with the trekking trip arranges for a guide for you. The guide would help you with the places, sights, tips, and tricks. So, a guide is important for sure for any trekking trip.
Also, a guide is someone who is regular with such treks and trips so he can easily tell about the weather changes, dangerous circumstances and about a lot of unwanted things that you may not know otherwise.
If you have been wanting to go on the Chadar trek, here we have sorted most of your queries and we hope that now you can enjoy the trek to the fullest.
All the precautions, safety measures and the tricks that we have shared here are surely going to help you. Do share your opinion and your experiences about the trek with us in the details as well.
If you have any other query related to Chadar Trek which is not resolved by this article then put a comment below.
And if you have gone on Chadar Trek, share your experience.
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