Chadar trek on the frozen Zanskar River
Chadar Trek – the wildest walk on earth – is for those who want to taste extreme adventure and experience extreme terrains and weather conditions. Titled as one of the most exciting and difficult treks in the world, the Chadar Trek offers you a chance to be part of the heritage of the Zanskar Valley. The trek is done on a thick layer of frozen Zanskar River. This is where the craziest and most popular trek in the world found its name and way into modern civilization.
High passes succumb to heavy snow when the mercury drops many points below zero, and the Zanskar River frozen into a sheet of ice remains the only route to access the Zanskar Valley. Locals are left with no other option than walking on the frozen river for days to reach their homes. Extreme terrains and temperatures and numerous splendid landscapes all around make the ice-cold valley a perfect playground for adventure and nature lovers.
Remote Himalayan villages and monasteries tucked deep in the valley are some additional bonuses no traveler can afford to miss. Chadar Trek is about discovering new adventures and miracles with every step you take.
The trek is usually done in the month of January and February when temperatures fall as low as -30 degree Celsius – conducive conditions to form a thick sheet of ice over the Zanskar River. Nine days of pure adventure and thrill put your endurance and patience to test as you make unforgettable memories while walking on ice for hours, sharing the laughter and love, making new friends, dining outdoors with your pals, staying in caves, visiting remote villages, and camping under the stars. The list of takeaways is endless. In a nutshell, Chadar Trek is all about gains and achievements.
- Drive through some of the most amazing landscapes well-guarded by high passes and snowy mountains
- Opportunity to see and walk the frozen River Zanskar
- Tap into the culture of the Ladakh region
- Admire and photograph fascinating formations of snow crystals, icicles, and frost
- Photography, stargazing, and camping under the star-studded sky
- Watching the confluence of River Zanskar and Indus
- Arrive at Leh (3500m)
- Drive to Chilling and trek to Tilat Sumdo camp (3100m, 3 hrs drive + 1 hr trek)
- Tilat Sumdo to Shingra Koma (3170m, 9 km/6 hrs trek)
- Shingra Koma to Tibb Cave (3225m, 14.5 km/8 hrs trek)
- Tibb Cave to Nerak Pullu (3390m, 11.5 km/7 hrs trek)
- Return from Nerak to Tibb Cave on the same route
- Tibb Cave to Shingra Koma
- Shingra Koma to Chilling through Tilat Sumdo and drive back to Leh
- Say goodbye to Zanskar and Zanskari’s
Day 1: Arrival at Leh
Arrive at Leh airport in the morning and report. After breakfast, you can spend the rest of the day acclimatizing and exploring the Leh market.
Day 2: Drive from Leh to Chilling and trek to Tilat Sumdo camp
The day starts with watching the confluence of River Zanskar and Indus and taking a three-hour-long drive along the extended landscapes to reach Chilling. We de-board at Chilling and start trekking to Tilat Sumdo camp. Chilling is a small village in Zanskar famous for metal handicraft.
Zanskar reveals its century-old secret, i.e. Chadar, as soon as we reach Chilling. We leave the roaring engine behind and set our feet on the Chadar for the first time. Walking for 1-2 hours along the frozen Zanskar to reach Tilat Sumdo offers a great chance to learn how to walk on ice for hours and respect mountains. Tilat Sumdo is the place for an overnight stay in cave/camp/tent.
Day 3: Tilat Sumdo to Shingra Koma
Today we hit the trek immediately after having breakfast. Chadar reveals its full glory to us as soon as we embark on our journey beyond Tilat Sumdo. Wide-open landscapes morphing into a long, narrow gorge separated by a thick and fragile layer of ice teleports us back in the history of Zanskar Valley. Crisp sounds of Chadar forming and breaking at places will teach you how and where the sheet of ice is perfect for walking. After a six-hour-long walking session, we reach Shingra Koma before evening for an overnight stay in camps.
Day 4: Shingra Koma to Tibb Cave
Three days of walking on frozen Zanskar has enhanced your endurance and taught you how to take a safe fall so that you can ready yourself for eight hours of long trekking. Amidst long walks, talks, anger, and impatience, we continue to traverse through frozen ice cliffs and waterfalls despite a continuous drop in temperature. This day brings out the real adventurer residing inside you for decades. Alongside walking on highly fragile ice, be prepared to do some rock climbing and crawling under the protruding rock faces on the rocky river bank.
Soon after crossing all the hurdles, we reach our destination, where we call it a day while stepping inside one of many caves here. The caves to whom the river Zanskar has unveiled it various beautiful hues generously welcome us with their open hearts and blackened roofs. These caves have been providing shelter to each wild walker venturing in and out of the Zanskar valley for centuries. This is the place where we eat and lay our heads to revitalize ourselves for another adventurous day.
Day 5: Tibb Cave to Nerak Pullu
The fifth day is one of the most significant days of the Chadar trek as we approach our destination with every step we take. Changing landscapes, increasing altitudes and extremely low temperatures gradually start showing the effect on your body and skin as your face starts to show signs of sunburn. Sunburns and blisters are medallions and signs of courage and conviction her highness Zanskar River awards every trekker. Now you have become the real Zanskari!
Walk for a few hours and Chadar reveals its most precious gem in the form of a frozen waterfall. Not just that, an old wooden bridge connecting Zanskar valley with the Ladakh region is another great architectural gem that is over 1000 years old. The bridge is a gateway into Nerak village and Lingshed Monastery. Locals use the bridge during summers when the river Zanskar is in its different avatar. We can spot small huts in the distance, but reaching there and the Nerak village is going to take some serious elbow grease. So we decided to stay back for an overnight stay in camps.
Day 6: Return trek: Nerak to Tibb Cave
A cursory glance doesn’t reveal the nitty-gritty of the return trek as it appears the same path we walked in past days, but technically it’s different. The sheet of ice that is continuously forming on the River Zanskar is always changing, breaking up and forming itself again. This is why the same route and place you crossed a day back might look and feel different, all thanks to the ever-changing dynamics of the Chadar. Through ever-changing landscapes, we reach Tibb Cave for an overnight stay in camps/caves.
Day 7: Tibb Cave to Shingra Koma
Today we head for Shingra Koma from Tibb. Shingra Koma is an open camping ground on your right as you walk back on the same route. You will be standing at an open place after spending a couple of days in a narrow gorge. You can see a steep stone wall on one side while a muddy hill with a gradual gradient on the other side. You can see the River Zanskar showing beautiful curves and glimpses of high mountains in front of your campsite.
Day 8: Shingra Koma to Chilling to Leh
The eighth day is the last leg of your trek. Your wildest walk is about to come to an end as soon as you reach Chilling after walking for a couple of hours from Shingra Koma. We drive back to Leh from Chilling and spend the night at a hotel.
Day 9: Departure from Leh
After spending a week in the wonderland of landscapes, high passes, and beautiful Himalayan lakes, today we say goodbye to our amazing Zanskari friends and the tiny kingdom and head back to our homes with wonderful memories.
Package Cost: Available on request
Package Cost Includes
- Accommodation at Leh
- Transportation on all days of the trek
- Sleeping bag during the trek
- Tent on triple sharing basis
- All meals (vegetarian) during the trekking days
- First aid medical kits
- Qualified and experienced trek leader and support staff
- Porters for camping essentials
Package Cost Excludes
- Food/meal at Leh
- Porter to carry personal belongings
- Personal clothing
- Trekking shoes/gumboots
- Flight tickets to and from Leh
- Permit fee
- Additional food, beverages, or bottled water ordered
- Personal expenses & tipping to staff
- Personal insurance
- Medical expenses (apart from first aid)
- Any expenses arising out of unforeseen circumstances like flight delay/cancellation/hike in fare, strike or any other natural calamities or any emergency evacuation expenses
- Anything not mentioned in inclusions
- It is possible that the trek cannot begin if the flights are canceled in the winter months for a few days in succession if there is snowfall at Leh Airport. Please note that Tripologer has no control over such situations.
- Normally Tripologer expects you to carry your personal luggage on your own. If you don’t want to carry your backpack, our porters can assist you at a nominal fee of Rs 600 extra per bag per day. Prior notice to this effect is required.
- Package cost is subject to change as it is based in part on the applicability of All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA) permit fees.
A token deposit of Rs 5000 per person would suffice for booking a position in the group. The remaining amount would be required to be paid by or before November 30th, 2017 to avail the trek fee rate for Chadar Trek.
Trekkers who are confirmed would be required to carry the following documents:
- Identification cards (like driving license, voters ID card, etc.) along with a photocopy
- A passport size photograph
- In addition to this, all participants are advised to submit to us upon arrival, an appropriate medical fitness certificate obtained from a registered medical practitioner in the country of their origin indicating that the individual is fit to go on a high altitude trek and that he/she has no physical and medical disabilities that would limit him/her from trekking.
- These documents are mandatory. Without them, you will not be allowed to trek.
In the event of cancellation of trek/adventure activity/services due to any avoidable/unavoidable reasons, we must be notified of the same in writing. Cancellation charges will be effective from the date we receive the information in writing (email), and cancellation charges would be as follows:
- 30 days or more prior to the departure date: 90% of the total trek fee refundable
- Between 21-30 days prior to the departure date: 60% of the total trek fee refundable
- Between 20-11 days prior to the departure date: 30% of the total trek fee refundable
- Less than 10 days prior to the departure date: No refund
- No show: No refund
- No refund will be made if a participant is unable to complete the trek owing to medical conditions or any other reasons, after starting the trek
Emergency On The Trek
If there is a medical emergency on the trek, your trek leaders are trained to handle crisis and rescue. Tripologer team will carry high altitude emergency medicines and oxygen cylinder. Most situations are resolved by the trek leader, helpers, and porters. The affected participant is moved down to the nearest emergency medical center as soon as possible. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical center are to be borne by the participant.
| Also read: 15 reasons to do the Chadar Trek