One of the most popular, difficult, exhilarating and beautiful treks in the country, Chadar trek is a 9-day long expedition, which requires you to walk over the mighty Zanskar river. During the winter months, the river is covered with a sheet of ice, which forms the primary trail for this 105 km trek. Before you start planning Chadar trek for 2019, let’s provide you with detailed information through this Chadar Trek Complete Guide.
During the course of the journey, you not only come across the most magnificent sights, but can also explore the ancient and rich heritage and culture. A blend of Indian and Tibetan cultures, Zanskar Valley offers a lot more than you expect.
Nature and wildlife enthusiasts can even spot exotic alpine species, such as snow leopard, ibex and blue sheep. The frozen surroundings make it an ideal place and time to witness the beauty of alpine flora and fauna.
Chadar Trek Complete Guide
During winter months, especially between January and February, Zanskar river gets covered with a sheet of ice, also called chadar. The 105 km trek is considered to be the toughest in India, and requires you to embark on a 9-day long journey in the Himalayas. During the day, temperature can stay around -5 degree celsius. At night, it dips even further to about -25 degree celsius.
The freezing temperature and the tough terrain isn’t a deterrent for hardcore trekkers. In fact, it gives them all the more reason to fight this strenuous battle and complete the trek. Most of Chadar trek needs to be pursued on foot. At times, you may even have to dodge icicles and climb huge icy boulders. During this trek, you walk through the day. At night, caves in the region act as home.
Why Go on Chadar Trek in 2019?
For adventure enthusiasts and backpackers, trekking is a lot more than just another trip. It can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The deafening silence around the mountains offers peace and tranquil like nothing else. It gives you a chance to get respite from your busy city life and undertake challenges to overcome obstacles. As you’ll find ahead in this Chadar trek guide, this experience is unmatched and unparalleled.
On this journey, trekkers need to face some of the toughest challenges they would ever come across in life. From sleeping in caves to freezing temperatures, everything tests your endurance and stamina. However, once the journey’s complete and you’re able to unravel the various secrets of the Himalayas, every challenge you passed seems like a reward to cherish for a lifetime.
With the glaciers melting rapidly and temperatures rising due to global warming, 2019 is the right time to visit the region. The feeling and excitement of walking over a frozen river and climbing icy boulders is something you’ll always remember. In this Chadar trek blog, we’ll try to provide all the details to help you plan the perfect journey.
Chadar trek is a 9-day long journey starting from Chilling, and taking you to Naerak while walking over the frozen Zanskar river. Though the experience is challenging, it’s also unforgettable and exciting. In winter months, the landscape of the Himalayas acquires serene and peace throughout its grandeur.
Areas Covered During the Trek – Leh -> Tilad -> Gyalpo -> Naerak -> Tibb
What’s Included in a Chadar Trek Itinerary:
- 5 nights accommodation in tents on triple sharing basis, when you’re on the trek
- 3 nights accommodation in a homestay or a guesthouse in Leh on quad or triple sharing basis
- All vegetarian meals – Starting Lunch (3rd day) to Lunch (8th day)
- Oxygen cylinder and first aid medical supplies
- Experienced and qualified Chadar trek guide with support staff
- Sleeping mattress, sleeping bags, tents
- As per itinerary, transportation from the guesthouse in Leh to Tilad, and return
What’s Not Included in a Chadar Trek Itinerary:
- ALTOA Fees
- Environment Fees
- Wildlife Fees
- Mineral water and beverages
- Medical expenses and insurance (except first aid medical supplies)
- Ground transportation/Airport transfers
- Meals in Leh
- Evacuation charges, in case of emergencies
- Any expenses caused due to unforeseen circumstances, such as flight cancellation, delay, fare hikes, union strikes, natural calamities etc.
Best Time to Visit Chadar Trek
As mentioned earlier in the Chadar trek review, mid-January to mid-February is the best period to plan this trek. During this period, the river freezes and the sheet of ice isn’t thin enough to cause any problems. As the snow starts melting in the last week of February, the sheet of ice gets thin, which can be risky and dangerous for trekkers. It’s important to keep this Chadar trek info in mind before planning your trek.
During the winter months, you’re accompanied by snow-clad mountains and the glistening rays of the morning Sun. A breathtaking view every morning and a clear, starry night sky keep your mind and soul occupied throughout the journey. The mesmerizing beauty of the Himalayas makes sure you plan another trip soon.
The beauty of the region and the deafening silence is the most rewarding and exciting part of Chadar trek. Though the trek is tasking and strenuous, the beauty compensates for every challenge you come across on this journey. Once you complete the trek, you realize that the reward is way more than the effort you’ve put in the journey.
Chadar trek not only tests your physical stamina, but even challenges your mental focus. It’s worth mentioning that the summer months also attract hordes of tourists. But most of these people are interested in water sports. Chadar trek has forever been the most popular activity in Leh during the winter months.
Points of Interest Covered
Chadar trek takes you through several regions in Leh and Zanskar valleys. The mesmerizing beauty of these places is a bonus to an already beautiful and exciting trekking experience. To make this Chadar trek complete guide, we also wanted to include information on these areas to help you plan better.
Tilat Sumdo – To be precise, Tilat Sumdo is one of the campsites for Chadar trek. At this point, a small stream meets the mighty Zanskar river. From here, you can catch amazing views of the Himalayas.
Shinra Koma – Just 10 km from Tilat Sumdo, this is a scenic and quiet spot that makes you see the magnificence of the Himalayas in its true form.
Tibb – With a fascinating cave and waterfall, Tibb is a beautiful place used by trekkers to stay overnight. It’s an enchanting sight in every direction.
Naerak – This place is considered to be the primary basecamp for Chadar trek. The sunset views from this point are gripping and leave an everlasting memory. It’s a delight for every nature lover to be here.
Gyalpo – It’s one of the most beautiful campsites you’ll ever find. Set at a bend around the Zanskar river, the entire region is full of tall peaks and walls, which look man-made. Trekkers often spend a good amount of time appreciating the scenic beauty in this place.
Dibyokma – This is another campsite offering panoramas and breathtaking views of the Himalayas. The quiet and serene ambience in this place makes trekkers fall in love at the first sight.
Lingshed – Famous for the renowned Lingshed Monastery, this is one of the oldest villages in Ladakh. With rich culture and heritage, it gives you a chance to soak in the perfect blend of Indian and Tibetan cultures.
Chadar Trek Difficulty Level
As mentioned earlier in this Chadar Trek Complete Guide, this is one of the most challenging and difficult treks in India. During winter months, Zanskar river is covered with a sheet of ice, making it the only passage through the Zanskar Valley. Due to heavy snowfall, all mountain passes and other routes are shut down.
Since the river is frozen from mid-January to mid-February, it’s the best period to plan this trek. The frozen Zanskar river is also the only passage for villagers travelling between Zanskar and Leh valleys. Everything seems pristine white, and provides you with a completely new perspective about things when you’re back in the city.
During the day, temperature is quite low, with the -5 degree mark dipping even sharply to about -25 degree celsius at night. If you want to plan a trek to the Zanskar region, you need to prepare for difficult camping conditions and unsettling temperatures. Mostly covered on foot, the 105 km distance is a tough ask for anyone.
The nights are spent in dark caves near the frozen Zanskar river. Thus, it’s important for all trekkers to carry the most comfortable shoes and the warmest clothes. Unlike other trekking experiences, the camping conditions in Chadar trek are very tough. It’s important to be prepared, both physically and mentally for the challenges that lie ahead. It’s also important to consider everything that has been explained in this Chadar Trek Complete Guide.
Chadar Trek Preparation – Fitness Required
Every Chadar trek blog talks about the level of difficulties that you would come across during the trek. However, not many blogs or guides explain what’s required of you to embark on this tasking and arduous journey. As mentioned earlier, this journey tests your physical as well as mental health. Before setting out on this trek, you need to be in the best of health.
The lead trekker and the support staff have professional training in advanced courses on mountaineering and trekking. However, in order to avoid any unforeseeable or critical circumstances, it’s important to consult a physician and undergo a basic medical test before planning the trek. If you’re on any medications, you should carry them with you on the trek.
The climate throughout the trek remains extremely cold and harsh. Therefore, it’s important for you to be medically and physically fit. Apart from freezing temperatures, the nights are spent in caves. Though everything offered by Chadar trek lays the foundation for a unique experience, there’s no doubt that the journey can be taxing on certain individuals.
Therefore, it’s important, and in fact mandatory, for you to fully understand the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead on the course of your journey. It allows you to prepare yourself accordingly. Food supplements, warm bedding and warm clothes are essential requirements for the journey. In addition to this, you should also carry water purifying tablets to ensure you have clean water at all times.
Chadar Trek – Things to Carry
Most tour operators arrange accommodation, ground transportation, kitchen supplies, mattresses, tents, helpers, guides, porters, cooks and other necessities. In addition to this, many tour operators make arrangements for monument entrances and visits, camping charges, wildlife fees, environment fees and more. Before choosing a tour operator, it’s important to go through every Chadar trek review available on the website.
Apart from this, you need to carry a medium-sized rucksack, water bottles, trekking shoes, insulating gloves, waterproof jackets, sunscreen, lip balm, fleece jackets, river-crossing sandals, water purifying pills, sunglasses, hand sanitizers, first aid medical supplies, personal medications, toilet paper, chocolate bars, mouth wash, emergency survival kit etc.
These days, you can easily purchase these items online or rent them from a local tour operator. Trekking shoes, clothing and sleeping bags are readily available on rent. Package charges of most tour operators don’t include personal expenses, laundry charges, insurance, tips, phone call charges, beverages or any other fees and charges levied. Thus, it’s important to search for credible Chadar trek info before you book a package.
While going on the trek, it’s highly recommended to wear a hiking shirt, quick-dry hiking trousers, long sleeve sweatshirt and trekking shoes. It’s also better to carry a comfortable hat with a high-quality retention cord for chilly, windy days. The rucksack can carry a separate set of clothing, outer and inner socks, fleece sweaters, regular and long underwear, a separate pair of trekking shoes, toothbrush, towel, soap, toilet kit etc.
- Always let a family member or friend know about the details of your schedule. This allows someone to provide help in case of emergencies
- Carry warm clothes and keep in mind that weather can change rapidly
- During the trail, you may come across shortage of water and food. Therefore, it’s important to keep sufficient water and edibles
- Always carry your medications and a first-aid kit. Cuts and bruisers are very common in chilly weather
- Respect nature and environment. Do not litter, and carry garbage in a separate bag. Try to minimize your usage of plastic
- Never use shampoos and soaps in rivers or waterfalls. The fresh water in these sources is used as drinking water by many villages in the region
- Respect the culture and tranquility of monuments and shrines on the route
- Never ignore the guidelines and tips provided by your Chadar trek guide
- Never skip meals. You need high energy to complete the journey
- Do not ignore the weather report
In the main region of Leh, accommodation is booked in reputed guesthouses and homestays. Meals are also provided. For hardcore backpackers and adventure enthusiasts, comfortable accommodation is arranged. On the trek, most people are accommodated on twin sharing basis in tents.
As explained in this Chadar Trek Complete Guide, weather can change rapidly, and climate is harsh and cold. Therefore, it’s important to carry items like waterproof jackets, sleeping bags, river-crossing sandals, insulating gloves, insulating fleece jackets etc. This keeps you protected against cold weather.
During the trek, campsites are set up in dark caves. Thus, warm clothes and flashlights are mandatory. Before booking a Chadar trek package, it’s important to make yourself aware of the harsh conditions. This is a tough and challenging journey that requires you to abide by certain rules and norms.
The journey on this trek starts from Leh. Reputed and professional tour operators choose only high quality vehicles suitable for the terrain. You are picked up from the source point in an Innova, Scorpio or Qualis, depending on the availability. In this rugged region, these vehicles are the most recommended to travel. Therefore, they are used for ground transportation throughout the region. Your Chadar trek guide stays with you throughout the journey.
As mentioned earlier, the journey in Zanskar region is one of the most memorable experiences among trekking destinations around the world. The valley is full of mysteries and snowy mountains. Through the years, it has attracted amateur and hardcore trekkers and backpackers from around the world.
The trekking route in the entire region is one of the most challenging and demanding experiences. However, every year, the number of trekkers visiting this region to go on Chadar trek keeps increasing. The spectacular and magnificent beauty of the Himalayan region attracts people from around the world.
Every good Chadar trek blog will tell you the details of this trek to make you aware of the challenges. Apart from ground transportation, you will also need to walk for long distances. Therefore, it’s important to be healthy and fit. In addition to this, you need to carry necessary supplements to make sure your body fights against cold weather.
During every trek, safety is one of the primary concerns. Reputed tour operators take necessary measures to ensure that all trekkers have a good time without compromising on safety. Though there aren’t any doctors available on the trek, the lead trekker and support staff members are trained in a Certified First-Aid Course. This allows them to provide necessary medical aid during emergency situations. A good Chadar trek complete guide or review will tell you about these details.
In addition to this, professional tour operators are also trained in advanced and basic mountaineering and wilderness courses. They follow all the important safety guidelines to ensure you’re safe throughout the journey. Avoiding any untoward incident is their primary concern.
In case you’re taking any medications or undergoing medical treatment, you should consult a general physician before planning this trip. Although it’s impossible to resist the charm and beauty of the Himalayas, you need to be mentally and physically fit to make the journey.
If you need personal supplements or medications, you should carry them on the trip. If you’re not sure about your health and fitness level, you should consult a physician or a seasoned trekker to get some advice. It’s important to check your fitness level way ahead of the journey. If you’re not fit, you should not go on this trek.
Common Mistakes Trekkers Usually Make, But You Shouldn’t
Whether it’s an amateur adventure enthusiast or seasoned trekker, it’s easy to make some common mistakes when you’re confronted with a tough and challenging journey. In this Chadar Trek Complete Guide, we also wanted to point out those errors. Many trekkers make these mistakes, which in some cases, can prove to be quite hazardous. Here are a few of them to give you an idea about how to manage your trip.
Disregarding Physical Fitness – Before planning Chadar trek, you need to make sure you’re physically fit. Irrespective of the treks you’ve taken earlier in life, it’s important to consult a physician before Chadar trek. At such high altitude, you need a lot of endurance, stamina and strength. If you’re suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes etc., you should not indulge in difficult treks.
Heavy Packing – Since it’s a long trek, most people try to pack a lot of their belongings. You have to keep in mind that climbing uphill is a difficult and an arduous task in itself. Every single gram in the rucksack starts feeling heavier as you proceed on the journey. Therefore, it’s important to pack wisely and make sure your rucksack feels lightweight. In case you’re a beginner, it’s better to consult a seasoned trekker to get some tips on packing. You can even make a checklist in the days leading up to the trek.
Dehydration – A lot of trekkers avoid drinking water in freezing temperatures. However, this can lead to dehydration. It’s important to keep a good supply of water bottles. This ensures your body remains hydrated, and doesn’t fall short of essential minerals. Not drinking sufficient water also makes you feel lethargic and tired on the trek.
Uncomfortable Clothing – When you’re on a trek, it’s extremely important to choose the right outfits for the journey. You need to purchase high quality trekking gear to protect yourself from harsh weather. Frilly and flowy clothes can make your navigation difficult. Polyester and woolen clothes are a good choice to make you feel comfortable on the trek.
Night Trekking – At times, you may feel adventurous enough to embark on a journey at night. But on Chadar trek, things can go wrong pretty quickly. The slopes in this region are slippery, and there’s absolutely no light to show you the way. Trekking at night could lead to some serious trouble.
Wrong Footwear – Most part of Chadar trek needs to be covered on foot. It’s important to purchase high quality trekking shoes, which are sturdy and strong. Your shoes should also have metal spikes. It’s important to research thoroughly, since there are many different kinds of shoes depending on terrain. To make your experience safer and more enjoyable, it’s important to choose the right shoes for your trekking experience.
Not Eating Proper Meals – When you’re on Chadar trek, it’s important to eat proper meals to keep yourself healthy and energized. You should never skip meals. Your body needs proper nutrition and energy to complete the trek. If you skip meals, your body starts getting weak. Moreover, you become less resistant to harsh weather conditions.
Not Keeping a Check on Weather – Before starting your day, it’s important to check the weather report and plan accordingly. Just because weather was pleasant on the previous day doesn’t mean it would be the same. You should keep checking with your Chadar trek guide to get regular updates.
If you’ve been looking to plan a Chadar trek, we hope our Chadar Trek Complete Guide would be able to help you out. For such a tough trek, it’s highly recommended to consult reputed tour operators and seasoned trekkers to plan your trip. If you want to get in touch with someone from our team, please click here.