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Trekking in Chadar also known as Frozen river trek is known to be a very unique and rare trek and an ultimate opportunity for adventure lovers. Chadar Trekking Tour is a winter trek held in the Zanskar region of Ladakh in North India. The fun of this trek is to be walking on blanket of ice on a river(Chadar of ice) at an incredible altitude of around 4000 metres above mean sea level, surrounded by towering mountains on which you see Buddhist monasteries, Buddhist monks and nuns living their lives. This route is used by local Zanskari people since centuries to go out of the region when the area is isolated and inaccessible with the outer world due to heavy snowfall and extreme temperatures.
Most of the trek is done on the river of ice (Chadar) and you feel, see and hear the river flow under your feet. Also at some places you must climb icy rocks or trails and in Zanskar itself we can walk through the normal trail used by the people daily. The colours of the mountains that one gets to see here, of the rocks, of the frozen rivers and waterfalls is something that will stay etched in your memory forever. The total distance of this tour (one way) is approximately 105 Km and average distance cover a day is 15 to 17 Km. The temperature remains minus 15 to 20 during the day time and 25 to 35 during the night.
This is not a trek for everyone. It is a trek for the brave and the true adventure lover.
After keeping all the facts in mind bring your warmest Jackets and sleeping bags also a pair of good shoes and very warm gloves.
Day 01: Arrival in Delhi. Night in Delhi
Day 02: Flight Delhi – Leh (3500 m)
Rest and acclimatisation to the altitude
Day 03: In Leh - Half Day Sightseeing around Leh
Short and easy visits: acclimatisation continues. It takes about 2 full days to get used to the altitude.
Day 04: In Leh - Full Day Sightseeing around Leh
Day 05: Drive Leh – Chilling - Trek Tilat Sumdo (3hrs)
Chilling, the start of your walk on the frozen Zanskar river is 64 kms away from Leh. Drive on the Leh Srinagar highway till Nimu where the Indus meets the Zanskar.
An hour and half more along the Zanskar brings you to Chilling. A few army sheds and a couple of shut buildings dot the almost shut hamlet of Chilling. The road goes a few kms beyond Chilling. Drive ahead until you can see the end of the road. This is where you leave the road and hit the Chadar.
Take your first few steps on Chadar carefully getting a feel of the surface you are stepping on. The Chadar surface can be of various kinds - a coating of fresh powder snow, hard and shiny ice, a freshly formed chadar (sheet of ice), chadar thats weak and breaking or another new texture. It is easy to walk on a fresh coating of snow. The snow gives you good grip and you can walk normally. An old hard and shiny surface of ice is what is tricky initially. Do a penguin kind of walk on such a surface without lifting your feet too much off the ground.
Day 06: Trek Tilat Sumdo – Markhala (6 hrs)
Wake up with the sun at about 7 am and prepare to leave the campsite by 9 am. Though the sun is up, Tilat Sumdo like most parts of the Chadar gets direct sunlight only during mid day.
As you walk on the Chadar, listen to the sounds it makes. Depending on the thickness of the Chadar, the sounds change. You will soon start recognizing where the Chadar is thick and where it is thin and dangerous.
Next stop is almost 10kms away from Tilat Sumdo. The 10 kms can be covered in about 6 to 7 hours. Mid way through the trek around noon, find a sunny section where your cook can dish out a quick hot meal of Maggie and tea. Packed lunches are ruled out on the Chadar trek because the food will become way too cold by noon to be eaten. Hot quick meals on the way is the only way out.
Day 07: Trek Markhala to Tibb Yokma (6 hours walk)
The trek to Tibb is a long one. It is also one of the most beautiful days of the trek. Watch the small waterfalls on the left standing still in the form of icefalls.
A couple of hours into the days walk bring you to a massive waterfall on the left. Prayer flags flutter on the trees in front of the waterfall. You know that the place is revered by the Ladakhis. Surprisingly the waterfall is not frozen. Notice the greenish moss growing on the rocks under the water.
Legend goes that, one year Nerak ran dry and a holy man went to Kailash to pray for water. He came back with a pot full of water and 2 fishes. The condition was that he does not place the pot anywhere. On the journey back, it so happened that he placed the pot and this spot and two fishes jumped off creating this massive waterfall. The rocks behind seem to have two nostrils. One which is full of water and the other dry. According to legend, this waterfall has its source at Kailash in Tibet.
Day 08: Trek Tibb Yokmato – Nirak Pul (6 – 7 hours walk)
The trek from Tibb to Nerak is 12 kms long. This is the day when you encounter the much awaited frozen waterfall. The day is beautiful too going through the cliffs and gorges and valleys of Chadar. 5 hours into the trek and after your lunch break is when you see the first sights of Nerak. Prayer flags around Juniper shrubs by the Chadar signal that you are now close to Nerak and before that the waterfall.
A kilometre ahead around a bend under the shade of the gorge lies the famous Nerak waterfall. The Nerak pul or bridge lies just ahead of the waterfall. The bridge is an old wooden bridge but can still take wait of 4-5 people at once. Its a nice experience walking on the rickety bridge and catching the sight of the waterfall from the top.
The trail goes along the Chadar and 20 minutes of walk brings you to Nerak where a small trail takes you up to the Nerak campsite.
Day 09: Trek Nirak Pul to Lingshed (5 hours walk)
Most trek operators take you only till Nerak and then return from there. But we are taking you further to Lingshed village and beyond. We want you to stay here for a few days, explore the region, get to know the “mountain people,” and observe age-old Buddhist cultural and spiritual traditions in practice.
Day 10: Trek Lingshed to Tsarak Do (7 hours walk)
Lingshed has a beautiful Buddhist monastery which is 7 centuries old. If it is open you will visit the monastery in the morning then trek for 2 hrs through the valley before reaching the frozen Chadar. We walk again on the frozen river to Tsarak Do.
Day 11 to 14: Trek back from Tsarak Do to Tilit Sumdo – Chilling
The return path is theoretically a retrace of the route you took earlier. However in reality it can feel like a totally new one. The dynamics of the Chadar can make the whole place look and feel different. Old Chadar breaks, new ones form where there was none earlier, texture of the Chadar changes in a day and so on. The Chadar trek is an experience. Your experience and what you see will be totally different from anyone else’s. You will not recognise the Chadar when start retracing your steps back to Chilling.
Day 15: In Leh - Day Free
Day 16: Leh - Delhi Fly to Delhi in the morning. Day in the city. Night flight out of India.
The Chadar Frozen River trek is more than just a trek; it is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a land that is frozen in time. A road is right now being constructed between Chilling and Padum to keep the Zanskar region connected to Leh all throughout the year. The road will definitely ease the lives of the Zanskar is who will no longer have to trudge for days to reach Leh. But will the Frozen River trek be rendered obsolete? So avail of this opportunity to do this trek in a comprehensive and detailed manner which will probably be one of the last years that this trek will be conducted. The highway will reduce the charm of this trek!