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Chadar Trek, Ladakh

Does the idea of walking on a river or standing under a waterfall without getting wet fascinates you and piques your interest? Then hold and behold as the unique and mesmerizing Chadar trek in Ladakh will offer you a dreamy white landscape made of snow, ice, and frozen water bodies. Chadar Trek in Ladakh is like no other trek in the Himalayas that offer you an experience of a lifetime with a walk on a frozen glass-like river with magnificent snow-covered mountains on either side. Summit at 11,150 feet from sea level, a visit to the Chadar trek area feels like you have been transported to the North Pole, where temperature drops to -30 degrees Celsius at night, food is brought in sledges, people covered in thick fur clothes, and survival instructs bloom, making it a do before you die adventure.

One of the most thrilling and exhilarating treks across the globe, Chadar trek is a heart pounding and eye-glittering trek over the frozen Zanskar River and witnessing the Nerak Waterfall that is completely iced over from top to bottom. For wildlife lovers, there are chances that you would see some exotic wildlife such as Blue Sheep, Snow Leopards, and Ibex in the frozen wilderness which makes the trek a never to be forgotten memory.

Trailing through the snow-clad valley, you get a chance to know the Zanskar culture in-depth, which is a union of Tibetan and Indian culture and experience their humble hospitality while learning about their life in this world of snow. If you have a passion for adventures and can acclimatize the harsh weather conditions must not miss out on this Frozen River Trek with jaw-dropping views and bone-chilling climate, the success of which will offer you a sense of pleasure and exhilaration.

A Stunning Trail to Behold

This magnificent 105km long trek lies on the Leh region of Ladakh and is one of the most famous and longest winter treks in the Indian Himalayan region. The Zanskar River in the region freezes during peak winters and makes a pathway for people to walk, known as ‘chadar’ which means ‘sheet’ in English and locals call it ‘KhadoSanglam’. The journey takes off from Leh to the snowbound villages of Zanskar valley and is a hard trek as walking on the frozen river isn’t as easy as it seems.

Apart from the frozen Zanskar River and the jaw-dropping frozen Nerak Waterfall that seems frozen in time while suspended in air, the Chadar trek offers several out-of-this-world sights such as majestic glacial meadows, Gurudwara Pathar, Nerak Village, TilatSumdo, Tibb Cave, Lingshed, and much more, while you traverse down the trail. The white landscape and the slow life in Zanskar valley will leave their imprints in your mind and heart forever and will leave you boasting about your experience till eternity.

Important Information on Chadar Trek

Difficulty Level

Chadar trek is a difficult trek when compared to other Himalayan treks because the altitude is very high,and the sub-zero temperature makes it even more difficult. People with breathing problems, back-pain issues, or migraine issues may find the trek even more difficult as the extreme temperature may worsen things. It will be better if the trekker has an experience of climbing in harsh winters and is in good shape.

Altitude to Cover

  • Leh – 11,450 feet
  • Shingra Koma – 10,300 feet
  • Tsomo Paldar – 10,500 feet
  • Tibb Cave – 10,950 feet
  • Nerak – 11,100 feet

Weather Conditions

The temperature in Zanskar valley goes up to -10 degrees Celsius during the day and can go up to -30 degrees Celsius during night. A sunny day can make the environment warm and beautifully reflects the rays in the snow. Although, if you are clothed properly and inside the tent, the temperature at night will not be very cold in the tent, but the snow cold will still be felt throughout the duration in the Chadar trek.

Trek companies

There are several trekking sites which organize Himalayan treks with professional trekkers and offer camping and food facilities. Chadar trek is usually of 8-9 days and some of the most famous trekking sites are:

  • Trek The Himalayas – INR25,000/person (info@trekthehimalayas.com)
  • Thrillophilia – INR17,950/person
  • IndiaHikes – INR20,000/person (info@indiahikes.com)
  • BanBanjara – INR16,999/person (info@banbanjara.com)
  • Adventure Nation – INR16,999/person (service@adventurenation.com)
Things to Keep
  • Original and photocopy of government photo identity card and passport and visa important for foreigners.
  • A strong built backpack with rain cover
  • Sturdy gum boots (mandatory), trekking shoes, waterproof trek pants, quilted jackets, warm thermals, waterproof gloves, a semi-thick comforter
  • Water bottle, torch head light, cap, personal toiletry item
  • Personal medical kit with tablets for headache, fever, cough, motion sickness, spray for sprains, band aid, cotton, and gauze
  • Fully charged camera and extra battery backup.
Food Stops

For trekking in Zanskar Valley, the main stop where you will get warm and freshly made food is Leh where you will be stopping at a hotel for medical checkups and to acclimatize to the extreme weather conditions as directed by the authorities. In a different scenario where weather conditions are not very extreme, trekkers should keep with them food items that are easily cooked such as instant noodles, eggs, oats, and potatoes that can be eaten boiled, and other vegetables.

But in treks such as Chadar Trek, a group of 6-8 people is led by professional trekkers along with local guide, a cook, and a helper, who also have the responsibility of providing you with accommodation and food and help you in any emergency. Usually freshly cooked vegetarian and egg dishes are served during this trek to keep the trekkers fit and healthy for the journey which is prepared by the guides. Apart from this, if you get time to visit nearby villages, people are very humble and might offer you a homemade delicacy. As for water, trekkers are advised to keep water purification pills with them, but Himalayan water is generally considered pure enough to be consumed directly after boiling it.

The campsites after Leh are in order of Gyalpo, Tibb Cave, Nerak then back to Tibb Cave then reach Leh. Proper meal is provided when camps are set up at night. During the day, trekkers are provided some go-to meals or packed food in between for a quick snack.

Chadar Trek Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Fly to Leh as the snow covers the road and makes it impossible to reach via road.
  • Day 2 – Acclimatization Day – ordered by Ladakh Government Authorities for anyone doing the Zanskar river trek to spend two days to get acclimatized to the weather and get themselves checked up.
  • Day 3 – Medical checkup and Wild Card exits – Trekkers will need to go through a medical check up which is required to get a pass to do the Zanskar river trek. If you are deemed unfit for the trek by the authorities, you will not be allowed to move forward. Also, the trekkers will be issued their wildlife permits, insurance, and other important documents.
  • Day 4 – Leh to ShingraKoma via Chilling &Tilad (drive 3-4 hours) and then trek 11km/5hours to Gyalpo, the first campsite.
  • Day 5 – Gyalpo to Tibb(trek 12km/5-6hours), the next camp site near Tibb Cave surrounded by dry sand.
  • Day 6 – Tibb Cave to Nerak Camp (trek 13km/6-7 hours), where you can witness the frozen waterfall and it is the coldest camp site.
  • Day 7 – Nerak to Tibb Cave (trek downhill 13km/5-6 hours).
  • Day 8 – Tibb Cave to ShingraYokma via Gyalpo, Drive back to Leh (trek 18km/7-8 hours).
  • Day 9 – Deprature from Leh.

Best Time to do Chadar Trek

The best time to go for the Chadar trek is from January to the end of February when you can witness the frozen river and waterfall and you get to walk on the massive slabs of ice, sprawling for miles and miles. Nerak will be the coldest camp sites of all with temperature going below -30 degrees Celsius during the night. The stunning landscape and overall experience make it a must-have experience and the most glamorous treks.

How to Reach Leh for Chadar Trek
  • The only way to reach Leh during winters for the Chadar trek is via flight. Fly to KushokBakulaRimpochi Airport in Leh which is just 4km from the main city. The airport is well-connected to major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, and other major cities.
  • The road is inaccessible during winters as it is completely covered in snow and gets closed after October or November.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Is the Chadar trek difficult?

Yes, the Chadar trek is said to be difficult not only because of the altitude but because of the extreme weather conditions that makes it difficult.

How to reach Ladakh for Chadar trek?

As Chadar trek is done during January till end of February, the roads gets blocked due to heavy snowfall. The only way to reach is via flight to Leh airport than can be made from all major cities.

How long is Chadar trek?

Chadar trek is 105km long with relatively straight walk featuring less elevation, but the extreme negative temperature and broken trails makes it difficult.

How much does Chadar trek cost?

Chadar trek can cost between 17,000 to 23,000 depending on the trekking site you have joined with.

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