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Chadar Trek – Frozen River Zanskar Trek Ladakh - 9 Days

Chadar Trek – Frozen River Zanskar Trek Ladakh
23900

Chadar trek is one of the most thrilling and adventurous trek in India. In the local language “chadar” means blanket. During the summer this river becomes a perfect location for river rafting expedition and during the winters it transforms into an ice sheet on which the famous Chadar trek is done.The best time to do the Chadar trek is January to February, when the temperature during the winters drops sometimes to -25 to -36 degrees.

Chadar Trek - Frozen River Survival Trek

The Chadar trek is endangered trek and may cease to exist in the next 4-5 years or as many as it takes for the road that is being carved out on the rock face above the river. When completed, access to the Zanskar villages in the interior will be fairly straight-forward. Though for the best, the completion of the road will mark the end of an ancient local practice.The Chadar trek is on one such route and an ancient route at that. It connects villages in the Zanskar valley situated deep in the mountains with Chilling, on the road to Leh. This ancient route has been used for centuries for trade and transportation.When not frozen, the Zanskar, is big and fast-flowing river. For most of its length between Chilling and the Zanskar valley the river is confined within a steep canyon. When you trek on the frozen Zanskar you are basically walking on a sheet of ice of varying thickness. Below you have the river flowing beneath. If you follow your guides instruction, you should be safe.

Day 1
Arrive in Leh (3500 M/11,550 ft) (Stay in guest house)

Day 2
Drive to Chilling (Aprox-70 km 3-4 Hrs)- Shingra Yokma (3200 M/10,560 ft)(Trek-2 Km/1 Hr)

Day 3
Shingra Yokma - Shingra Gokma (3300 M/10,890 ft)(Trek-10 Km/3-4 Hrs)

Day 4
Shingra Gokma -Tibb Cave (3400 M/11,220 ft)(Trek-14 Km/5-6 Hrs)

Day 5
Tibb Cave - Nyerak (Main Attraction Frozen waterfall)(3680 M/12100 ft)(Trek-13 Km/4-5 Hrs)

Day 6
Nyerak - Tibb Cave ( 3400 M/11,220 ft) (Trek-13 Km/4 -5 Hrs)

Day 7
Tibb Cave - Shingra Gokma (3400 M/11,220 ft) (Trek -14 Km /5-6 Hrs)

Day 8
Shingra Gokma - Shingra Yokma(3200 M/10,560 ft) - Leh(Trek-12 Km/3-4 Hrs/Drive 3-4 Hrs)

Day 9
Depart from Leh

Day 1: Report at Leh. Stay in hotel.

Land at Leh Airport in the morning. Keep your woollen cap and gloves handy. The daytime temperature of Leh in the month of January is -9 degee & it can go down to -15 degree or even less in the nights. So cover yourself properly & do not exert yourself too much as its your first day & it will take some time to acclimatize. Reach the hotel as per address communicated

Morning View from flight

 

Day 2: Drive to Chilling- Shingra Yokma

  • Drive: Aprox-70 km 3-4 Hrs
  • Altitude: 3200 M/10,560 ft
  • Trek: 2 Km / 1 Hr
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Post breakfast, we take a beautiful drive through the beautiful scenery with your first views of the Indus river and later the Zanskar river at their confluence at Nimoo. Drive to Chilling, the starting point of trek. The distance of chilling from Leh is 70 Kms .  We take the road going towards left along the Zanskar river. A drive of one & half hour on this road & we are in Chilling. Drive a few kms ahead of chilling & get down. The trek begins from here. Todays destination is Tilat Sumdo which is not too far & its good for you to get used to walking on Chadar ( Frozen river) & the harsh climate. We will reach the camping site after a trek of one or one and half hour. Tonight will be the first of many nights to come when you will be camping in freezing temperature.

Zanskar river at their confluence at Nimoo

 

Day 03 :Trek from Shingra Yokma  -Shingra Gokma 

  • Altitude: 3300 M/10,890 ft
  • Trek: 10 Km / 3 - 4 Hrs
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Wake up time is around 7:00 am, freshen up. Breakfast with hot tea and you are ready for a day full of frozen ice river trek by 9:00 am.Hearing the different sounds of Chadar forming and breaking, you will soon get familiar where the Chadar or the ice cover is thick and thin. With a early lunch break in between, we would soon reach the majestic. Lunch is in between the trek, where we all stop where sunlight is abundant though duration is much less as the river flows through a gorge and direct sunlight time is limited.The lunch is not given in packets on Chadar trek because it freezes in few minutes. It has to be cooked on the spot . So on the way we will find some nice spot & cook hot lunch to give ourselves much needed energy. Shingra Koma is a big camping ground right below a huge stone wall . A plant known as Shingra is found in abundance here . Thats why the name

 

Day 04: Trek from Shingra Gokma - Tibb Cave .

  • Altitude: 3400 M/11,220 ft
  • Trek: 14 Km / 5 - 6 Hrs
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Todays trek is a long one . On the way we will see many frozen waterfalls. Vast mountain sides rise up abruptly from the river as it flows through gorge. We might even catch sight of bharals or blue sheep as we trek along the frozen river.

Not to say about the frozen waterfalls!.Though today is the longest day of the trek, we pass through some magnificent beautiful waterfalls and frozen ice cliffs on the left - it is like walking through a giant freezer! The walk also crosses through narrow gorges, where the trekker may have to climb briefly on to the rocky river bank. We trek again on frozen ice towards the designated camping site for the day. Overnight at camp.The sharp bends and current of the river breaks the ice in some places. Lunch in between on a flat rocky hill side by the river. Overnight at camp.

Overnight at camp

 

Day 05 : Trek From Tibb Cave - Nyerak (Main Attraction Frozen waterfall)

  • Altitude: 3680 M/12100 ft
  • Trek: 13 Km / 4-5 Hrs
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Again one of the magnificent days on the Chadar trek. However, the caution being that this can become a difficult if the Chadar is not very firm. The vistas are stunning though as we pass through giant frozen waterfalls, ice cliffs and one may even catch sight of the mountain fox. The first sign of Nerak appear when after walking for long hours on chadar you reach a point where you see juniper trees with laddakhi prayer flags. Now comes the time to witness the famous Nerak waterfall. There is an old wooden bridge after the waterfall. Dont forget to catch a sight of the waterfall from the bridge. After that we reach Nerak campsite. Nerak village is higher up & we do not go there. We camp at Nerak camping site which is also the starting point for rafts during the months of summer. Night in Nerak is coldest of all.

Trying to Climb Waterfall

Nerak village

 

Day 06:  Return Trek From Nyerak - Tibb Cave 

  • Altitude: 3400 M/11,220 ft
  • Trek: 13 Km / 4 - 5 Hrs
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Today you start the return journey and go back to the Tibb cave. And if you thought that it was just a matter of retracing your steps back to Chilling, you can think again. 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 it will almost be impossible to say whether you have been here before.

 

Day 07: Return Trek From Tibb Cave - Shingra Gokma 

  • Altitude: 3400 M/11,220 ft
  • Trek: 14 Km / 5 - 6 Hrs
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Top View of Chadar

 

Day 08: Return Trek From Shingra Gokma - Shingra Yokma- drive back to Leh 

  • Altitude: 3300 M/10,890 ft
  • Trek: 12Km / 3 - 4 Hrs
  • Drive: Aprox-70 km 3-4 Hrs
  • Stay:  Stay in guest house

Today is the last day of this amazing and unique trek. We finally return back to the road head where our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to our guest house at Leh. huge goodbye to the support staff; their absolute dedication and support is nothing short of amazing. Finally on reaching at Leh, the guest house room of Leh after some 8 days is most welcome, yet the experiences of this ice trek linger and will be remembered forever. Overnight at guest house in Leh.

Day 9: Departure From Leh

So finally a goodbye and good wishes for your return flight to Leh as you board the early flight back to your home town, and definitely some great memories and a lifetime of an experience to narrate to many a friend and family and always say yes to Himalayas.

View Of Leh From Guest House

Trek  included and Excluded

  • Transport from leh to Road head and return.
  • Accommodation in guest house in- Leh on Day 1 and Day 8.
  • Camping during the trek.
  • Meals during the trek.
  • Trek equipment.
  • First aid support.
  • Qualified & experienced trek Leader.
  • Services of Guide,Cook and Support team.
  • Permits.

What is Excluded in the trek fees

  • Meals in Leh
  • Any kind of personal expenses
  • Porter to carry personal luggage
  • Anything not specifically mentioned under the head price Includes
  • Altoa & Environmental Fee

Trekking Gear

  • A rucksack with rain cover
  • A water bottle or a hydration pack
  • A Hand/Head Torch with spare batteries
  • UV Protection Sunglasses
  • A trekking pole

Clothing:

Chadar Trek is a winter trek with extreme cold and snowfall. Hence,the temperature is bound to fall to -15 to -20 degree celsius. Therefore, 5 layers of clothing are absolutely necessary.

  • Quick Dry Warm lower or Track Pants - 3
  • Full sleeves T-shirts - 3
  • Thermal Bodywarmer Upper & Lower - 1
  • Fleece Jacket - 1
  • Padded Jacket -1 (Goose down or feather is preferable)
  • Full sleeves sweater - 1 (Needed if you feel cold at high altitudes despite 4 layers)
  • Rainwear (Jacket & Pants) - 1
  • Thick woolen socks -  2-3 pair
  • Cotton socks - at least 2-3 pairs
  • Undergarments - 1 for every day of trekking
  • Pair of Warm Gloves - 1
  • Pair of synthetic (water-resistant) gloves- 1
  • Woolen cap - 1
  • A Sun cap or biker scarf to protect from the sun.

Footwear

  • Hiking shoes (Preferably ankle high) -1
  • Gumboots - You can purchase these from Leh. Make sure they are one size bigger than your actual size.

Toiletries

    • Sunscreen lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet roll, cold cream, small towel.
    • Anti-fungal cream: Carry an antifungal cream if you are sensitive to sweating and prone to skin irritations around genitals or groin area due to lack of bathing.
    • For women:
      • Tampons or sanitary napkins,
      • 2-3 zip pouches to dispose off non-biodegradable waste
      • Vaginal wash to avoid any irritation due to lack of bathing.

Miscellaneous

    • Water bottle
    • Camera (optional)
    • Personal medicine kit. Though our trek leaders carry a fully equipped first-aid kit, make sure you consult your doctor before the trek in case you have any special ailment.
    • Dry fruits, energy bars

Flexibility

Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.

Breathing exercises

If you’re trekking to Chadar Trek in winter, note that the temperature drops to around -25 degree Celcius at night. During the day, the temperature will be at around 5 to 10 degrees. This extreme temperature could make breathing slightly difficult. Doing breathing exercises before the trek will help. Expand your lungs and learn to breathe deep. This will help you inhale more oxygen and help you breathe comfortably.

Fitness exercises

  • Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better)
  • Hold your breath for 40 seconds
  • 3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch
  • Push Ups – 10
  • Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets

 

Monitoring health on a trek

Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.

On the trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects a day.

  • Oxygen Level
  • Pulse Rate 

High Altitude Medical Kit

Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, DexamethasoneYour Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.

Acclimatisation in high  altitude

This is one of the most important aspects of travelling in the high Himalayas and cannot be ignored or set aside. Acclimatisation basically means our body adjusting to lower levels of oxygen (rarefied air) & reduced air pressure as me move up. In case one does not acclimatise properly there are chances of the person facing extreme discomfort and this can be fatal in extreme cases. While there is no set route to getting properly acclimatised there are a general precautions and steps that one can take to initiate good acclimatisation.

By air

Jet Airways, GoAir, and Air India provide daily flights from New Delhi to Leh. It is recommended that you make your flight bookings well in advance not only to save on the price but also for a confirmed seat.

You can also take an alternate flight route to Srinagar. Fly to Srinagar from Delhi and then drive to Leh from Srinagar. The 10-hour road journey from Srinagar to Leh can be covered by hiring a shared taxi which will cost you around INR 3000-4000. The drive route from Srinagar to Leh is scenic.

For coming back, you can either take a direct flight from Leh to New Delhi. Or take the same route via Srinagar. Flights from Srinagar to Delhi are cheaper than Leh-Delhi.

Nearby Attractions

There are so many enchanting places to visit in Leh-Ladakh. During your acclimatization period, you can roam around the town and visit the monasteries; Diskit Gompa, and Lamayuru Monastery. Drive up to the Magnetic Hill and experience the crazy magnetic phenomenon on the hill. The picturesque Nubra Valley will take your breath away. The green oasis villages, the monasteries, the ruined palaces- Turtuk and Bordang; there is a whole different culture in this place. It is 150 km away from Leh. you can take a shared taxi to this route. How can you leave Ladakh without seeing Pangong Lake, the sapphire blue lake? You can also visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib and Leh Royal Palace.

Cellular Connectivity

BSNL has the best connectivity in Leh-Ladakh region followed by Airtel. However, you won’t receive any connectivity once you move further on the trek.

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FAQ’s CHADAR TREK

Best time for Chadar trek?

The best time to do this trek is just after the winter snow starts to settle in, during the coldest months of January and Februrary; when the temperatures are low enough for the Chadar/ice sheet to be formed properly.

What will be the temperature during the trek?

Temperature is the main challenge during this trek, where during nights it may fall down to -25 to -30 degrees below freezing point though during a normal day it may range from -10 to -15 Degree C.

Is diamox recommended?

Since there is not much altitude to be gained during the course, mostly 3400 to 3700m, Diamox is not recommended. We suggest one acclimatizes well by following good health practices in the mountain like getting enough rest, staying hydrated, having sufficient carbohydrates and avoiding alcohol.

Drinking water?

Natural mineral water is present all over the trail but due to extreme cold weather everything is frozen here, therefore most water is harnessed by melting the ice or from parts of river that are not frozen completely. This water is boiled and filtered before consumption. Carrying a thermos bottle is recommended so as to sustain the warm water for a longer time, as water in normal bottles freezes over the night. We also use water purification tablets if required

Medical emergencies?

In case of any emergency one of our guides along with the porters and support staff will carry/accompany the guest back to the starting point of the trek from where he/she will be driven to the Leh hospital for treatment. We carry first aid arrangements and basic medicines with us on the trek

Fitness level?

Moving at the altitudes ranging from 3400m - 3700m, this trek is not much technical or strenuous, hence does not require any rigorous training for it, though a person needs to be fit and fine to commence and also finish this venture

Type of Footwear?

Although we recommend a high quality waterproof hiking shoes with good grips under them, one can also manage the trek with a local made Gum boot. Saving your feet from getting wet, these affordable shoes can be bought from the local market at Leh city. Other than this it is recommended to carry an extra pair, as a backup.

Price From INR25,000 INR23,900/person
23,900
Total 23,900 INR

Trip Facts

  • Leh, Ladakh (J&K)
  • 8 days
  • Difficult/Challenging
  • 11,500 ft
  • 75-80 km
  • Jan-Feb
  • 10-15 trekkers
  • Leh to Leh
  • Meals while on trek (Veg + Egg)
  • Guest house, Camping

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