Almost all of us wish to go on a road trip to the scenic valleys of Leh and Ladakh at least once in our lifetime. But there are only a few adventurous ones who dare to take up a trek in Leh’s Zanskar valley, during the cold winter months of January & February. The Chadar Trek is definitely no ordinary trek, especially when you’re walking on the frozen Zanskar river. If you want to test your limits and catch some spectacular sights of the Himalayas, then here’s a look at what the Chadar Trek offers.
Interesting Fact: The word ‘Chadar’ means blanket in Hindi, from where the name of the trek originates. This is called so because of the expanse of ice covering the river in such a way that it resembles a blanket.
What really is the Chadar Trek?
The Chadar Trek is a 7 days’ adrenaline-seeking trek on the frozen river of Zanskar in the region of Chilling and Zanskar Valley, Ladakh. The trek covers an area of nearly 75 km and the weather conditions can be demanding, especially at night when the temperature soars to nearly -20 degrees. However, on a lighter note, the Chadar Trek is an amazing experience for anyone who loves to seek a bit of adventure. The trail along the trek provides some breathtaking views, and gives you an insight into the lifestyle of the Zanskaris. Be prepared to embark on a journey that you won’t forget in this lifetime!
Difficulty Level: Difficult
How do I get There?
Since this particular trek deals with trekking through the frozen Zanskar gorge along the frozen river, it takes place only during winters. All road passages to Leh and Ladakh, thus taking a flight to Leh from Delhi is the only option. Once you arrive in Leh, all other things will be taken care of by your trekking agency.
So…What am I Facing?
You’re almost 13000 feet above sea level, which is why you may find the initial days a bit on the tougher side. Let your body get acclimatized to the altitude. Apart from that, remember that you are walking on ice which can be difficult, it’s important to listen to the instructors attentively and follow the guides well.
Which Places will I Cover?
From Leh, you will be driving to Tilad Do and begin your first trek from here. The trek is at least 8-9 days long, so be sure to experience some amazing places on the way. Here is a list of a few places that you may visit on your trek-:
Nimu: A small village, where the Zanskar merges with the Satluj.
Shingra Koma; This is where you’ll be camping on your second day, surrounded by steep rocks and narrow paths. The place is absolutely tranquil and is a sight to behold.
Tibb Cave; Experience the chilled waterfall of the mountains and a cave where you’ll be staying overnight.
Nerak: If you’re not too exhausted, it’s always good to visit the village of Nerak near the camp to get a feel of the zanskari life.
Lingshed- Visit the Lingshed monastery, one of the oldest in the region and divulge in the culture of the locals there.
Suggested Read: Ladakh in Winters
There are several things you need to keep in mind before embarking on a trek to the Himalayas. Although this isn’t any ordinary trek, there still a few essentials that are just must. Here’s a brief list of the essentials that you need to carry/pack while on your trek to Chadar Lake.
- Carry warm clothes only. The temperature can soar down to -20 degrees at night, so light sweaters and cardigans may not work. Make sure to cover your head and ears as the wind might get rough at times.
- Keep enough liquid with you, your body needs it since you’ll be walking for long hours.
- It’s advisable to carry a walking stick, since walking on ice can be quite difficult for first timers.
- Proper shoes like gum boots or trekking shoes will be needed.
Be a Sustainable Trekker
Due to the recent rise in temperatures all over the world, many natural places and sights have been experiencing drastic changes. The ‘Chadar’ on the Zanskar river is one such natural phenomenon that is under threat due to climate change.
As a conscious trekker, it is important that you help in preserving the natural beauty of the Chadar Trek. Enjoy your #travel experience by #respecting the environment and #enjoy the mesmerizing sights for many years to come.
- Don’t litter, keep a trash bag with you and dispose it off once you reach a place where dustbins are available.
- Do not pollute the natural stream of water by washing your face with soap, or using shampoos. The streams and waterfall are the main source of water for the locals and thus, it’s important that they remain untouched by chemicals.
How do I book for this Trek?
There are various trekking operators online who organize this expedition in the month of January and February. However, it’s advisable that you book well in advance as slots are less and the trek is available only for 2 months.
Nature and sounds of the winds are just absolutely mesmerizing for any nature-lover. Bask in the glory of a natural environment and rejuvenate yourself, away from the hustle-bustle of the city. Be prepared to have the experience of a lifetime in this thrilling trek.