Chadar Trek / Zanskar Frozen River Trek
- Region: Leh, Ladakh
- Duration: 9 Days
- Grade: Difficult
- Max Altitude: 11,100 Ft.
- Approx Trekking: 62 Kms
- Trail: Leh to Leh
- Available Dates: 2nd January to 4th February
Famously called as the 'Chadar Trek' due to the thick blanket of snow formed during the winters, this is considered as one of the most challenging as well as adventurous treks in the world! Hidden deep in the secret like passages among the snow capped mountains, this frozen river attracts thousands of trekkers from all parts of the world!
Chadar Trek requires you to be:
- An experienced trekker having done at least 1 high altitude trek
- Having sufficient stamina to cover 5 km of distance in 45 minutes without stressing
- Being able to carry a 10 kg backpack
- Not having a heart problem, high blood pressure, asthma, and epilepsy conditions
Brief Itinerary of the Zanskar Frozen River Trek
- Orientation & Briefing of the trek at 12:00 noon (Mandatory)
- Check in Hotel (10:00 am) (Has centrally heated room)
- Spend the day in the room itself to acclimatise
- Rest + Acclimatisation day
- Sightseeing: Hall of Fame, Santhi Stupa, Shey Monastery & Thiksey Monastery
- Stay in the Hotel (Has centrally heated room)
- Altitude 11,400 to 10,400 ft., drive of 65 km, 3-4 hrs & trekking of 3km, 2 hrs
- Drive through Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus
- Trek 15 km / 6-7 hrs during this day
- Hot lunch on the way
- Pass through a waterfall which never freezes
- Stay in tent
- Trek 13 km / 6-7 hrs during this day
- Hot lunch on the way
- Nerak is the first village of Zanskar region- If we reach on time at Nerak camp, we can visit the village
- Frozen waterfall attraction
- Stay in tent
- Trek 13 km / 5-6 hrs during this day
- Hot lunch on the way
- Stay in tent
- Trek 12 km / 5-6 hours during this day
- Hot Lunch on the way
- Stay in tent
- Trek 06 km / 3-4 hrs during this day & drive 65 km, 3-4 hrs
- Hot lunch on the way
- Reach Leh by 06:30 pm
- De- briefing and certificate distribution just before dinner
- Stay in Hotel (Has central heating)
- Check out of the Leh hotel at 10.00 am
Day 1: Report At Leh
You will make your way at Leh airport. Leh airport is considered to be a thing of beauty for the eyes. Before you even land, you will be observing the amazing sight of the whole range of peaks capped with snow which will leave you stunned. You will be feeling the temperature dropping suddenly, and that's the main reason that you are required to keep your warmies in hand. Once you arrive at Leh airport, you will be stunned by observing the sudden drop in temperature. So, be prepared for it accordingly. After you make your way to the guesthouse, we will provide you enough time to refill your energy and let you have some rest. Once it's evening, you can simply explore the beautiful Leh market for some shopping purposes.
Note: Keep yourself prepared for Leh’s cold temperature. Once you start making your way to the frozen Zanskar, you won’t even believe how cold it really can get. From January-end to mid of February, you can expect the temperature to stay in the range of -10 degree to -15 degree during the time of the day. You should keep your body hydrated at all times. And for that we recommend you to increase your fluid intake which will help you in maintaining the temperature of your body.
Day 2: Acclimatization Day
Due to the various problems reportedly faced by the trekkers making their way for the Chadar trek, there have been various regulations kept in a place that people who are making their way for Chadar trek are required to at least spend two day in Leh so that they can get their body used to the weather. It's mandatory and must be followed by each and every trekker. You can spend your entire day over there by simply exploring the city. We recommend you not to visit the places in the city that are located at a higher altitude. Hence, you should crosscheck the various essentials before you go to bed.
Day 3: Leh to Tsomo Paldar via Chilling & Tilad Do
This is the day when your real journey begins. You will be making your way to the first campsite, namely Tsomo Paldar via Chilling and Tilad do. You will be witnessing one of the most amazing views that you would never have in your entire life. You will be coming across various spots in Ladakh that will leave you stunned. Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, the confluence of Indus and Zanskar are the few spots where you can click some of the stunning pictures with some out-of-the-box amazing views. You will reach Chilling after one and a half-hour drive from Zanskar. The car will take you to the end of the road. This point will be considered to be the point where you start walking on Zanskar. It will be a real challenge when you start walking with your gumboots on. It will take some time for you to understand the ice patterns. However, after some time, you will get a better understanding of which surface is trustworthy and which one is fragile. A huge number of ice surfaces are spread along the way. Once you start walking, you will get a better understanding of them. While planting your foot on these surfaces, you need to make sure that these surfaces are fragile or trustworthy. We recommend you to carry a light and small backpack along with you that will help you manage your entire body in a manner that will help you from being misbalanced. After you fall and slip a couple of times, you will successfully reach Tsomo Paladar, which will be your first campsite. This will be the first time you will be going under sub-zero temperature for camping.
Day 4: Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave
Chadar is considered to be one of the trekking experiences where you won't be gaining much altitude in some quick successions. Making your way from Tsomo Paldar to Tibb Cave will gradually take you a time of about six to seven hours. And during this time, you will be gaining an altitude of about 400ft. After you spend a chilling night at your campsite in Tsomo Paldar, we will provide you with some amazing breakfast that will help you be re-energized. This will help you come back to your senses in such a chilling temperature. And who can forget the much-needed hot cup of tea that will help you calm your nerves down? Once you are done with breakfast, it's time to take your journey further. Once you start heading for Tibb Cave which will be your next campsite, you will come across some of the most eye-catching waterfalls that you would have never come across previously. These waterfalls are known to stand frozen in the time. We don't quite know the source of these waterfalls. There are known to various myths about these waterfalls among the various villagers. While heading to Tibb Cave, you will be provided with lunch on the way so that you can re-energize yourself back again. After you cross some waterfalls and observe some green grasses, you will come across various rock patterns that will look artistic to you when the rays of the sun will be falling on these stones. Next camping site is Tibb Cave, which is known to be totally surrounded by some dry sand.
Day 5: Tibb Cave To Nerak
It's time to make our way to the most awaited camping sites of the entire trip namely Nerak. It's a 13km. Long trail that will be taking you to the most iconic landmark of the trip, which is the frozen waterfall. It's a god's gift and can be called the eighth wonder of the world. You will be provided with a hot lunch on your way to Nerak. This campsite will be the coldest place that you will have ever been in. The temperature can go as low as -30 degree during the time of the night. And that's why we recommend you to equip yourself with the proper clothing that will help you protect yourself from the cold. If you successfully are able to make your way to the waterfall on time, then you can visit the Nerak village as well. We will schedule a place for camping that will be at a distance of about 15-20 minutes far from the waterfall.
Back From Nerak:
When you research on the Internet, you will come across various facts that the weather conditions during the trekking trip can be unpredictable. There will be instances where you won't be able to witness the Chadar formation on your way back from Nerak. However, you will also come across instances where you will be witnessing entirely new layers of Chadar formed at some of them. We know it's the same route. However, you might totally see it as entirely different while making your way back. It's an experience of the lifetime. And if you are a hardcore trekking lover, then you should never miss any opportunity you have to go for this trekking adventure. These eight days will be the most amazing days of your life. And you will be cherishing each and every moment until the last breath you take.
Day 6: Nerak – Tibb Cave
Day 7: Tibb Cave to Gyalpo
Day 8: Gyalpo to Tilad do to Leh
We will be making our way to Leh by 6:30 in the evening. However, we don't suggest you book your flight for the eighth day. We will recommend you to take some rest and book your flights for the 9th day.
FAQ about Chadar Trek / Zanskar Frozen River Trek
Can you tell me about the weather conditions during Winter in Ladakh?
As you might know, Ladakh is located at a really high altitude. And this means that the oxygen level will be very low comparatively. When you reach Ladakh, we will recommend you to take some time off (maybe a day) because of the oxygen levels suddenly changing. However, it will gradually worsen in the winter season. During the winter season (October- Early March), you can notice the temperature to falling below the freezing point. The winter is said to be harsh here during this time. You can observe occasional snowfall falling during the winter season. However, if we talk about the weather conditions during the rest of the months, it's said to be particularly fine as well as warm during the day-time.
What are some of Chadar trek's highlights?
You won't find the Chadar trek to be a tough task if you are properly equipped with the right gear and have some sensible knowledge about trekking. We might say that each and everything that you will experience here will be unique in its own way. You will fall in love with the temperature, scenery, frozen river, atmosphere, unusual campsites, sledges as well as the caves. Your whole adventure will be breath-taking in its own way. And if you are not impressed by that, let us tell you that Chadar trek has been featured to be a unique trek in India.
Can you give me some information about Ladakh as a destination? Any more information on the winter?
You can describe Ladakh as heaven. It's a mesmerizing destination to visit, and you'll be simply amazed by what it has in store for you. And you should always have this destination included in your bucket check-list box. This place has a lot to offer, and it is a must-visit place at least once in your lifetime. However, during the winter season, the temperature is known to fall gradually, and during this time, this place turns out to be more picturesque. And once you watch the frozen Pangong lake, you will simply be stunned. You can also make your way to Sham Valley and interact with the locals there in order to understand everything there is about the place.
Will it be difficult to walk on the mesmerizing frozen Zanskar river?
Avid travellers love this activity. The beauty of this region will simply leave you stunned. However, the deserted and harsh environment is often quite demanding. During your trekking experience, you can interact with the locals there, and when you ask them about their experience living there, they will simply tell you that their way of living is really tough. This activity is recommended only for the thrill-seekers as well as the brave-hearted. The terrain and weather might be the factors that will make you doubt yourself and lower your confidence level. However, if you don't let your confidence down and go with the activity, then your entire journey will be worth it in the end.
I haven't gone for trekking previously. Is Chadar Trek for me?
After you have successfully made your way to Ladakh, you won't be facing any problems related to a higher altitude during this trek. The trek is known to be not very rigorous. It's a myth that the trek is for the super fit people. Anyone can enjoy the trekking experience. However, one thing that you need to keep in mind that you need to be extra careful when it comes to walking on the ice. It's not impossible for you to walk on ice and you will gradually learn how to do so as time passes. Normally, on the first day, trekkers face problems while being used to the penguin gait and they might take a few falls. However, when you make your way to the second day of the trek, your confidence levels will gradually rise. This trek will make you prepared for the cold temperatures. If you are physically fit and can go out for long walks, then you will just fully enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the place. However, if you are not, you might face a challenge in front of you. When we keep all of this in mind, you can go for Chadar trek even if you don't have any trekking experience previously.
How many hours do we need to walk on the frozen river each day?
If you ask us the average walking distance for each day, then the answer is 10-12km. And it will take you 5-7 hours a day to overcome that distance. You will enjoy each and every moment of it and won't be disappointed. We try to make to the campsite as early as possible. Rest of the day is for leisure so that you can make yourself prepared for the next day.
What's the level of fitness you expect from us for the Zanskar Frozen River Trek?
We recommend the optimum level of fitness from the candidates for this trekking experience. That's because if you are fit enough, you won't be facing many problems during the trekking and will enjoy your trekking experience at the very best. Chadar Trek's not challenging at all. The only thing you need to adapt to is walking on the frozen river. It's a totally straight path, and it isn't inclined a bit. What makes this journey thrilling and quite adventurous is the temperature falling down below 25 degrees.
Can you have some information about the ground transportation available to go from Leh to Chilling?
Tata Sumo, Mini Buses as well as Tempo Traveller, can be used to make your way from Leh to Chilling and return back. We can arrange transportation for you. You can alter the vehicles as per your requirements.
I am worried about the drinking water on Chadar Trek.
As you all know, Himalayan water is absolutely clean. However, in order to ensure safety, we will provide you with chlorine tablets and boiled water in the camps. We recommend all of you to consult with our experts when you think about filling the bottles on your way. Hot water will be provided to you during your entire journey. We recommend you to bring with yourselves chlorine tablets.
Are gumboots required on Chadar Trek? Are they available for purchase in Leh?
Absolutely! They are a must. This is because you might be crossing a path where you will observe the water levels to be high, and this would lead to the freezing ice-cold water to entering your normal shoes, thereby making it wet. You can purchase gumboots at the Leh market easily for all the sizes. The brand we recommend you to buy shoes of is "Diamond" as the shoes provided by Diamond brand are made up of soft rubber and are totally comfortable. It won't cost you more than INR 500 to buy yourselves a comfortable gumboot.
Is a walking stick required during the trek?
It's totally up to you. However, we consider the trekking pole to be really comfortable. Plus, with the help of trekking pole, you can take firm steps, and it will gradually help your grip on the grounds that are slippery.
How much cash should I carry along with me?
It's advised not to carry any precious items or heavy cash during the trek. The entire trek, as well as the food and water along with transportation, is arranged by our authorities. All you need to worry about is airport transfers, personal shopping, the food at Leh. And it won't cost you much. However, to make sure that you don't fall in any trouble during emergencies, we recommend you to keep along with you some emergency money (Cash as well as electronically.)
What about smoking and liquor during trekking?
Leh is located at an altitude of 11,000ft. And you will observe the oxygen levels to be quite thin and weather to be really cold. If you consume liquor or any kind of drug during your time up, it could make you feel unwell. Our past experiences with liquor as well as smoking haven't been quite well as the people who consumed them showed symptoms of nausea and AMS. Due to this, we cancelled the journey for them and had them descend to lower height immediately to get them hospitalized.
Where will we stay? Will it be caves?
A lot of people visit Chadar, and the caves are in a limited number. If there's any kind of vacancy, we will try our best to arrange our stay in the caves.
Will there be bonfire?
You won't find any woods in the valley as well as Leh which will make it impossible for us to start a bonfire. If you want to keep yourselves warm at all times, then we recommend you to wear as many clothes as you can.
In case of an emergency, what will be your evacuation plan?
We bring with ourselves our own support team which are equipped with all equipment required to help the patients travel back to Leh and keep the rest of the batch moving further. However, it's only possible a single time. However, if any kind of emergency takes place the second time with the same batch, then it's bad news for the entire batch. The whole batch will have to fall back and return.
What if I fall into the freezing river?
That's a really dangerous thing you can expect happening to you. However, it's not considered to be common, and we ensure you that you will find the whole Chadar thick enough that you can walk on it easily. All we recommend you to do is to follow the footsteps of our trek leader as well as guide in order to ensure that the place you are standing is capable enough to hold your pressure. However, we need to be prepared for just anything. If you fall into the freezing water, our team will take over and try to get you out immediately. We recommend all of you to be patient and not to panic during this time. Once you are out, we will restore your body head.
Who will be responsible for rescue if one of us gets unwell and is required to be taken to the camp immediately?
If anyone of you falls ill and needs to be returned back due to any kind of reason, we will carefully make arrangements for the person to get back safely. However, some kind of additional costs such as stay at Leh, transport at Leh, meals at Leh as well as extra staff arrangements and airlifting are your responsibility.
- Chadar Trek is relatively difficult so it's important for you to prepare your mind to withstand the chilly winters and harsh weather conditions.
- As this entire region is almost always below 0 degrees, it's important that you keep yourself warm during the Chadar trek.
- Woolen cap, gloves and correct footwear are absolutely must for the Chadar trek.
- You'll be falling at least once while wearing gumboots so don't worry about it and enjoy the sweet pain!
- Remember to keep your electronics warm. It's best to keep them under your pockets when you're outside.
- Backpack 60 ltr -70ltr with comfortable shoulder straps, supporting frame and backpack rain cover
- Thick jacket and sweater, both full sleeved
- Thermo plastic water bottle, water purifying tablets, and hot water bag
- Gumboots for Chadar Trek
- 3 pair of synthetic track pants
- 3 full sleeve woolen tees with collar
- Trekking pole
- ID proof like driving license, voters ID card, Aadhar card, etc.
- 4 passport size photos
- Snacks like chocolate bars and dry fruits (if you wish)
- Sun Glasses with U/V Protection
- Toilet Kit (Toilet Paper) & Quick-Dry Towels
- Personal and necessary medicines
- LED Torch & with extra batteries
- Cold cream and sunscreen lotion (SPF 40+)
- 2 pairs of thermal inners
- Woolen monkey cap/balaclava that covers the ear, hand gloves + synthetic waterproof gloves, head-scarf or muffler
- 2 pairs each of sports socks and woolen socks
- Medical certificate from a recognized practicing doctor certifying your fitness for the trek
- Accommodation. (Guest house, Home stay, Camping)
- Meals while on trek (Veg+ Egg)
- Trek equipment: sleeping bag, mattress, tent (twin sharing), kitchen & dinning tent, toilet tent, utensils and crampon (if required)
- All the necessary permits and entry fees
- First aid medical kits, stretcher and oxygen cylinder
- Mountaineering qualified & professional trek leader, guide and support staff
- Mules to carry the central luggage
- Any kind of personal expenses
- Food during the transit
- Mules or porter to carry personal luggage
- Anything not specifically mentioned under the head
- Any kind of emergency evacuation charges