If adventure gives you an adrenaline rush, this one is for you. If you want to experience the multiple facets of life all at once, this one is for you. If you want to expedite on a once in a lifetime experience, then this one is definitely for you!
The world famous Zanskar Chadar Trek is all that more. Dwelling in the heart of Ladakh – a land that never fails to inspire, impress and amaze everyone with its dreamlike beauty and pristine panoramas – the frozen river trek fascinates and scintillates everyone alike. While summers are the perfect time to visit Ladakh when the valley is gleaming in all its glory, come winters and the valley shows you its rustic side. It’s the time of the year when the canyons and ravines of the valley get capped with a thick sheet of snow, and it’s then when some brave hearts transpire their way to Ladakh to undertake the most intimidating Zanskar Chadar Trek.
As the name signifies, Zanskar Chadar Trek literally means walking on the thick sheet of ice that engulfs the ever-feral Zanskar river. Nerve chilling and exhilarating, trekking on the Zanskar river is an experience like no other. It’s closest to walking on a glacier and no adventure can redefine your life like this 75 km long trek.
Basic facts about Chadar trek
Spread over Leh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, the Chadar trek is a 70-75 km long trek situated at an altitude of over 11,000 feet. The trek involves walking on the river through steep canyons to catch a glimpse of various Ladakh villages, including Lingshed, Chilling, and Nyrek, experience the treacherous life the locals live and enjoy their hospitality even in the frigid weather.
As mentioned earlier, the Chadar trek is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But that doesn’t mean that the first-timers cannot get on to the expedition. Whether you are a hardcore enthusiast or a novice trekker, you need to start training months in advance. For all, you are going to trek in one of the most difficult treks in North India, situated in quaint, yet bone-chilling surroundings. It takes experienced trekkers 9-10 days to cover an expanse of 70-75 km, so you need to prepare well and build on your stamina if you wish to seize on the nerve-wrecking journey.
Related Post : How to prepare for a trip to Ladakh
The trek is best taken in the months of January and February. It’s from the middle of January till late February that one can witness the surreal and pristine beauty of the valley.
Given to the fact that you are going to expedite in the most drastic environment, where the temperature during the day is around -10 degrees and easily plummets to -15 to -17 or more after sunset, it is important to ensure that you survive the cold. As Leh is the starting point for your journey ahead, it is necessary to spend a day or two in Leh to let your body get completely acclimatized to the harsh climate of the valley as you might have to sleep in slow laden caves during your trek, with minimal access to even the most basic amenities.
How to Reach
The only way to reach Zanskar in winters is through air; Leh being the nearest airport. It is well connected with all major cities across the country, especially New Delhi. All flights land there before noon and after your two nights acclimatization stay in Leh, you would head to Chilling, which is 64 km by road and then trek for about 2 hours to Tilat Sumdo, the starting point.
The Zanskar trek
The Zanskar or the Chadar trek promises to take you through some of the most breathtaking panoramas on earth. It is one of the most enigmatic experiences that will captivate you for the rest of your life.
Tilat Sumdo – The starting point, your trek starts from here. It is the confluence of Zanskar and a small stream.
Shingra Yokma – It is almost 10 km from Sumdo and would be your second pit stop.
Tibb – On Day 2, you’ll pass your way through Tibb, one of the most beautiful spots of the Chadar trek. It is full of caves and waterfalls and you can capture some of the most scenic vistas of Himalayas in Tibb.
Naerak – Next, you’ll trek to Naerak, , which is the highest point during the trek. It is a large camping area with caves large enough to fit 7-9 people.
Gyalpo – From Naerak, you’ll trek back to Tibb to go up to Gyalpo. It is a beautiful place which is full of walls of rocks resembling human faces. Here you could easily notice a lot of fresh trails and footprints of Foxes, Ibex and Snow Leopards. If lucky, you could spot a Snow Leopard too. But be assured, you are being watched by one all the time.
Shingra Yokma and back to Leh – This would be your chance to witness the valley in all its bounties for the one last time before you depart from Leh with memories of a lifetime.
For more information on the trail, logistics and to book this tour check out this amazing 11 Days Chadar Tour Paackage.
Things to Carry
Carry your best woolens as you are going to witness the harshest of weather conditions. Buy some if you live in other parts of the world where winters are generous. Buy gumboots to save your feet from frostbite. Other than that, take all the accessories that you might need during your trek. These include
waterproof gloves, socks, body warmers, exothermic pouches, flask bottles, torches, trekking rods, sleeping bags, two passport size photographs, a couple of energy bars, vitamin tablets, moisturizers and sunscreens, and other items you think might help you survive the drastic climate.
Dos and Don’ts
Here’s a list of things you must do as well as avoid during your trek.
Things to do
Keep your spirits high – Don’t lose hope even if few things don’t work in your favor.
Follow the locals – They know it the best. So do what they are doing and follow your guide like a shadow.
Carry sufficient eatables and edible water: Keep yourself hydrated and well fed, even with limited supplies of food.
Keep yourself warm –With temperatures steeply dropping, it is very easy to get a frostbite.
Keep your first aid kit handy – It will save you from a lot of trouble during trek, where bruises and cuts are a part of the game.
Things not to do
Keep sync with MET records to know if there’s going to be a sudden change in weather conditions.
Do not litter.
Do not over stress.