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The Chadar Frozen River Trek

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24 Jan 2019 - 01 Feb 2019 (Open) Only For Ladies

 

Ladakh can be a difficult place to travel. The mountains are steep and in the winter snowfall closes many of the mountain passes and makes the few roads treacherous. Some villages become completely inaccessible between November and March. One method of accessing snow-bound villages during the winter is trekking on top of the ice of frozen rivers. The Chadar trek is one such route, connecting villages in the Zanskar valley (deep in the mountains) with Chilling (on the road to Leh) along the frozen Zanskar River. This route has been used for centuries for trade and transportation, and is most reliable in February when the ice is most stable.

 

Now, We should make it clear that the Zanskar river is big and fast-flowing. For most of its length between Chilling and the Zanskar valley the river is confined within a steep canyon. If the idea of walking over frozen river ice with a large pack on your back and very cold rushing water a few inches below your feet is terrifying, then you are not alone.The hike from Chilling to the Zanskar valley takes more than a week, and at night porters usually sleep in caves in the canyon walls.

 

This trek is considered as one of the most exciting and unique treks – a very special and an extraordinary trek on shiny ice on the bank of Tsarap River. You will be dropped by a vehicle at Chilling Sumdo (crossed road) then yourtrek leads in a narrow valley filled with breath-taking views of ice-peaks and unexpected hanging icicles that will attract your gaze for some time. You will spend the night at cave camps with the help of a born fire that will keep you warm and relaxed.

 

Our daily trek begins at around 9:00am and by then the sun's up and blue skies bring cheer despite the cold temperatures. The trek goes along the Tsarap River in the region of Nyerag, Lingshed and constitutes toZanskar!

 

Needless to say, having a good guide is critical on the Chadar trek. Trekking on the ice was intimidating. A covering of snow made it difficult to assess its thickness. At times we had to walk along a narrow margin of ice, constrained by the canyon wall on one side and deep rushing water on the other. Slipping in or falling through would not just be cold; it could be fatal. The water was deep and fast, and you would likely be swept under the ice in seconds.

 

For better or worse, the Chadar trek is an endangered activity and within 5 years will cease to exist in it's current form. A road is currently being blasted out of the rock face above the river. When completed, winter access to the Zanskar valley villages in the interior will be relatively straight-forward. The road will certainly be safe and more convenient than the river, but its completion will mark the end of an ancient local practice.

 

The ‘Chadar’ is a perfect example of this resourcefulness of the Ladakhis and their indomitable spirit, in the face of such daunting odds. The term ‘Chadar’ means blanket in the local language, thereby giving an indication to the nature of this whole experience. Large sections of the river Zanskar, which is one of the mightiest rivers in Ladakh, freeze over in the dead of winter and are covered by a thick blanket of ice. This frozen blanket or ‘Chadar’ is the only way in and out for Zanskaris in winter, when the road and various other caravan routes are closed due to heavy The icy wonderland of the ‘Chadar trek’ snowfall blocking the high passes. It has been their traditional trade route in winter for Centuries. The seven to eight days walk from chilling to Padum is both challenging as well as an incomparably exiting experience. The landscape aquires a pristine grandeur in winter as the trail enters into the gorge of the Zanskar, where temperatures sometimes drop to –30 to - 35 Degree Celsius.

 

Brief Itinerary

 

Day 1 : Reporting day at Leh

  • Altitude 11,400 ft.

  • Keep your woollen cap and gloves handy at Airport

  • Orientation & Briefing of the trek at 12:00 noon (Mandatory)

  • Check in Hotel (10:00 am) (Centrally heated room)

  • Bring a copy of ID proof and 2 photo graphs. Foreigner, a copy of passport and visa

  • Network is available (only post-paid)

  • ATM is available

  • Visit of any very high altitude place or pass is not advisable

  • Consumption of alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited

  • Spend the day in the room itself to acclimatise

 

Day 2 : Acclimatization Day

  • Rest + Acclimatisation day

  • Can go for half day sightseeing

  • Visit of any very high altitude place or pass is not advisable

  • Consumption of alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited

  • Stay in Hotel (Centrally heated room)

 

Day 3 : Leh to Tsomo Paldar via Chilling & Tilad do

  • Altitude 11,400 to 10,400 ft.

  • Drive 65 km, 3-4 hrs

  • Trek 3km, 2 hrs

  • Gumboots are mandatory

  • Carry two thermos flask of 1 litre each

  • Stay in tents

  • Drive through Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus

Note :- Walking in gumboots will take a while, so be prepared for some slips and falls! It’s advisable to carry a small backpack which will protect your back at the time of falls.

 

Day 4 : Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave

  • Altitude 10,400 to 10,800 ft.

  • Trek 15 km / 6-7 hrs)

  • Hot Lunch on the way

  • Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave

  • Pass through a waterfall which never freeze

  • You will only get sunshine around 9-10 am

  • Stay in tent

 

Day 5 : Tibb Cave to Nerak

  • Altitude 10,800 to 11,100 ft

  • Trek 13 km / 6-7 hrs)

  • Hot Lunch on the way

  • Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave

  • Nerak is the first village of Zanskar region

  • If we reach on time at Nerak camp, accordingly we can go to visit Nerak village

  • Attraction Frozen waterfall

  • Stay in tent.

 

Day 6 : Nerak – Tibb Cave

  • Altitude 11,100 to 10,800 ft

  • Trek 13 km / 5-6 hrs)

  • Hot Lunch on the way

  • Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave

  • Stay in tent

 

Day 7 : Tibb Cave to Gyalpo

  • Altitude 10,800ft to 10,500 ft.

  • Trek 12 km / 5-6 hours

  • Hot Lunch on the way

  • Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave

  • Stay in tent.

 

Day 8 : Gyalpo to Tilad do to Leh

  • Altitude 10,500ft to 10,300ft and drive to 11,400 ft.

  • Trek 06 km. / 3-4 hrs

  • Drive 65 km, 3-4 hrs

  • Hot Lunch on the way

  • Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave

  • Reach Leh by 06:30 pm

  • De- briefing and certificate distribution just before dinner

  • Stay in Hotel (Centrally heated)

 

Day 9 : Fly to your desired destination

  • Checkout 10.00 am from Leh Hotel

 

Who Can Go:-

  • Experience of any high altitude trek at least 1 trek

  • The climber must be fit and have sufficient stamina to cover 5 km of distance in 45 minutes without a stress.

  • The climber should be able to carry a 10 kg backpack.

  • Heart problem, high blood pressure, asthma, and epilepsy cannot be reconciled on this mission. The climber must not have the conditions mentioned above.

 

Detailed Itinerary

 

Day 1 : Reporting day at Leh

 

You will be landing at the Leh airport which is one of the most picturesque airports that you would come across. Just before the touchdown time, you'll be greeted with the entire range of snow-capped peaks that will surely get you wonderstruck. It's important to keep your warmies handy as you'll fell the sudden drop in temperature as soon as you arrive at the Leh airport. A jacket, woolen gloves and a woolen cap is a necessity. After reaching the guesthouse you will be given enough time to relax and acclimatize to the conditions. Later in the evening, you can spend some time at the Leh market for last minute window shopping. It is very important that you get used to the cold temperature in Leh because the temperature will only tend to fall as you start walking on the frozen Zanskar. From the end of January to mid-February, the temperature can be anything between -10 to -15 degrees during the day. It is also important to keep your body hydrated by increasing the intake of fluids that will help to maintain your body temperature.

 

Day 2 : Acclimatization Day

 

Keeping in mind the health problems that trekkers are facing (AMS), as per the new regulations applied, anyone doing the Chadar Trek should be atleast spending two days in Leh to get your body fully acclimatize to the weather conditions. It is irrevocable and it is important that it is strictly followed by every trekker. You can spend the day by visiting the places around the city. It is advisable that you avoid visiting places which are at a higher altitude. Crosscheck you essentials before going to bed.

 

Day 3 : Leh to Tsomo Paldar via Chilling & Tilad do

 

On this day, you'll be headed to the first campsite which is Tsomo Paldar via Chilling & Tilad do. It is one of the most scenic drives which lets you witness some of the top spots in Ladakh. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus are some of the places where you can take a pit stop for clicking pictures. An hour and a half drive along the Zanskar will get you to Chilling. The car will drop you right where the road ends, this will be your starting point of walking on the Zanskar. Walking with you gumboots on will definitely be a challenge in the initial stage. Understanding the ice patterns will take time, slowly but steadily you will know which surface is fragile and which is trustworthy. There are multiple number of ice surfaces that you would come across while walking on the mighty Zanskar and as you start walking you will know more about it. Planting your foot will be important in most of the cases, you can check for the ice for its steadiness with your walking stick before stepping on it wholeheartedly. A small and light backpack will help as you will able to manage your body weight in an effective manner. After an hour and half of slipping, falling and trying to gather your balance you'll be reaching your first campsite at Tsomo Paldar. This will be your first experience of camping under sub-zero temperatures.

 

Day 4 : Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave

 

Chadar is one such trek where your not gaining altitude in quick successions. Slowly but gradually from Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave (6-7 hours), you will be gaining an altitude of 400ft. (Tsomo Paldar: 11,400 to Tibb Cave: 11,800) After spending a cold night in the tent at Tsomo Paldar get done with you breakfast that will re-energize your senses in the morning. The much needed hot cup of tea will be special in such frosty conditions. As you start heading to the next campsite which is Tibb Cave, this trek route has some of the most eye-catching frozen waterfalls that you'll see. Waterfalls that stand frozen in time. The source of some of these frozen waterfalls is still unknown and there are a lot of myths amongst the villagers. The mighty Zanskar will be flowing all along with you on the trail and the emerald green water will have a smoothing effect. You will be served lunch midway to Tibb cave. After walking for a couple of hours you'll come across different rock patterns along the way which look artistic when the sun rays fall on them making their way from behind the clouds. You will be camping near the Tibb cave which is surrounded by dry sand.

 

Day 5 : Tibb Cave to Nerak

 

As you move on to the most awaited campsite of the trek which is Nerak, the 13km long trail will take you to the most iconic landmark of the Chadar trek. i.e. The frozen waterfall. The frozen waterfall is a natures masterpiece in itself that attracts trekkers around the world. Hot lunch will be served on your way to Nerak. By far, Nerak will be the coldest of all the campsites on the trek where the temperature goes down to as low as -30 degrees during the night. It will be important that you wear proper clothing in layers to stay safe from the biting cold. If you manage to reach the waterfall on time, there are chances of paying a visit to the Nerak Village as well. You will be camping at a distance of 15-20 minutes from the waterfall.

 

Back from Nerak:

 

You might have heard stories of how unpredictable the weather patterns can get here on the Chadar trek. There are instances where the formation of Chadar no longer exists on your way back from Nerak. In the same way, you will witness a new layer of Chadar formed at some. Even though it's the same route, you'll be amazed to see how different it appears while coming back. Chadar Trek is an experience of a lifetime that every trekking enthusiast should witness. And then, what if we told you that these eight days of your life are going to be some of the best days you've lived so far and that you'll cherish these moments till the very end.

 

Day 6 : Nerak – Tibb Cave

Day 7 : Tibb Cave to Gyalpo

Day 8 : Gyalpo to Tilad do to Leh

You will reach Leh by approximately by 6:30 in the evening. We recommend trekkers not to book a flight on Day 8th of the trek instead, book it on the 9th Day.

 

How to Reach

By Air :- 
Flying over miles and miles of heavily snowed mountains will tell you just why it’s impossible to reach Ladakh by road in the winters. Jet Airways, Air India and Go Air provide daily (once every day) flight service between New Delhi and Leh. However if you plan a trip to this area of the country, you must try to book your tickets well in advance. This might even cut down the prices which may be levied on booking at the last time. You would enjoy the flight as you would fly over many untouched areas and even some mountain ranges. The aerial view is just fascinating and gives a great start to your tour.

Cost per person (INR)
Rs.25725
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Date Selected Dates
Where Ladakh
Duration 8 Days
Difficulty Difficult
Capacity 15 Seats
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7838984471, 8368292699, 01142156013
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