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Chadar Trek – The Most Challenging And Enthralling Himalayan Trekking Trail
Despite being considered as one of the most difficult treks, the appeal and majesty of Chadar trek attracts countless adventure seekers every year. The trek, which is carried out only in the peak winter season, requires the participants to traverse the frozen Zanskar River, the very thought of which makes the adrenaline rush through the body of even the most experienced trekkers. The trek is completed over a period of 9 days and 8 nights and every single moment of this duration is filled with great excitement and thrill for the participants.
As the trekkers move over the layer of ice that covers the cold gushing waters of the Zanskar River flowing only a few inches below, they are constantly conscious of the great risk involved. However, it is this risk that builds up the thrill and motivates the trekkers to overcome this extremely tough challenge of nature. The nearly death defying experience, makes the trekkers appreciate the small blessings of life in a better manner. Moreover, they gain the confidence and the maturity to overcome the everyday challenges of life in a far easier and stress free manner.
For most people the decision of undertaking the Chadar trek proves to be a life changing decision. The trail, which takes them through a valley surrounded by snow walls that seemingly stretch up to the skies, makes the trekkers feel humbled. They also learn to appreciate the great beauty and majesty of nature while making the participants realize its true force in a somber manner. The chill, the solace and the thrill of the trek leaves them overwhelmed mesmerized at the same time.
Day 1 : Report at Leh. Stay in hotel.
Land at Leh Airport in the morning. Leh is very cold in the months of winter. Most of the city is covered with snow. Market in Leh is seasonal & most of the shops are open only in the months of June - October when tourist flow is good. In the months of January & February when Chadar trek is done most of the shops are closed. Except the local people & few others mostly everyone migrate to other places. 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 to you over email.
Day 2 : Three hour drive to Chilling. Trek from the road head to Tilat Sumdo (Distance : 2 kms Time 1 hour ).
Drive to Chilling, the starting point of trek. The distance of chilling from Leh is 65 Kms. Initially we drive on Leh Shrinagar Highway till we reach Nimu which is the confluence of two rivers namely Indus & Zanskar. 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.
Day 3 : Trek from Tilat Sumdo to Shingra Koma. 10 kms, 6 hours
Waking up can be difficult in mountains specially when you are doing Chadar trek as in the morning everything is just freezing outside the camp. But there is a rule in mountains that you should never break. Start early ! .yes, come of out of your camps & have a good look at the wonder of nature that Chadar is. This river which flourishes in the months of summer & supports lives along its banks is dead as a doornail in winters. We leave the campsite by 8 in the morning. Our next camp Shingra Koma is 10 kms & trek will take 5-6 hours. 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 4 : Trek from Shingra Koma to Tibb. 14 kms, 8 hours
Todays trek is a long one . On the way we will see many frozen waterfalls . The pug marks are common on Chadar as the big cat roam here freely but it stay away from humans & spotting is very rare. There are overhang sections where you have to crawl over your tummy. Dont hesitate in doing so since it is the safest way to cross a section as it distributes the body weight & hence puts lesser force per square inch of chadar. There is also a unique big waterfall on the way which stays unfrozen .You can identify this waterfall from the laddakhi prayer flags on the trees in front of it. This waterfall has a legend about it. Dont forget to ask your guide about it. In the later half of todays trek the chadar passes through a narrow gorge of the width of 20-25 Feet. This sections gets almost no sunlight & hence reamins frozen with thick sheet of ice. Tibb, todays campsite comes to your right side . It a large camping site. You will find some dry vegitation around here & caves which are used by local people travelling through here.
Day 5 : Trek from Tibb to Nerak. 11.5 kms, 6-7 hours
The most spectacular day of all todays trek from Tibb to Nerak is 12 kms long. 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.
Day 6 : Return from Nerak to Tibb. 11.5 kms, 6- 7 hrs.
Day 7 : Trek from Tibb to Shingra Koma. 14 Kms, 7-8 Hours
Day 8 : Trek from Shingra Koma to Chilling and drive back to Leh . Stay in Guest House.
Day 9 : Departure From Leh