If you are in love with Trekking and you are a habitual trekker then Chadar Trekking will be a lifetime achievement for you. This trek got its name from the solid sheet of ice over the river Zanskar which flows through Zanskar valley in the Laddakh region. Zanskar valley is the most isolated region in Laddakh and this place is remains cut off because of non-connectivity to the rest of the world for 8 months during the months of winter. Heavy snow takes place in the region which disconnects this region from the rest part. The only way is to reach this valley is through trekking over the frozen Zanskar river in this season. Because of the solid state of river Zanskar, one has to trek through to visit this valley. In doing so, you will be exposed to chadar trekking which is quite difficult in terms of level. So you must be physically and mentally fit before undertaking this trek, and you will be checked by health officials before your trek.
Why Chadar trek is famous
Chadar trekking is accomplished by crossing the thick blanket of ice formed over the river Zanskar. In some places, there may be cracks in the ice and if it happens, the only way to continue with the trek is to move through the snowy rocks and boulders beside the river. This Chadar trekking is quite difficult in the difficulty level, so naïve trekkers can not accomplish it. This is the only option with the people of Zanskar valley to connect with the village of Chilling by walking over a frozen river. The river flows through a deep valley and straight cuts with high mountains on both sides, making it tougher for a trekker to move on the ice sheet. You will encounter many local people with a warm smile on their faces who are going for their daily usage life cycle, which will surely add up joy to your trekking.
Best time for Chadar Trekking
As you will be trekking over the frozen Zanskar river which remains in a solid state in the winter season. You will get enough ice in the Zanskar river throughout the winter, but the density and toughness of ice may vary. But in January and February, this ice sheet retains its maximum density of ice and it is perfect for a trekker to trek over the river. It is recommended to plan your visit from January to February month, because in these months, the ice remains in a stable state.
Permit to visit Laddakh Region
As this area located near the border area, it is strategically important for India. Hence before visiting here, you have to obtain permits from the authorities. Domestic or Indian tourists need an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained both offline and online. To have an offline permit, you have to visit the Tourist information centre at Leh town or the DM office in person. For the foreign tourists, a protected area Permit is required to visit the Pangong lake which can be obtained online or through registered travel agents. The inner line permit can be obtained online by visiting the Official Website of Leh District Permit Tracking System. For Indian nationals, the option of ‘Domestic client’ can be clicked and permits will be issued online after filling in the required details. The fees for issuing permits is very nominal at the rate of 420 (400 as environmental fees and 20 as inner line fee).
Start off for Chadar Trekking:
Trekking for this beautiful trail starts from Leh itself, and if you are joining the group then you must first acclimatize yourself to the chilling weather in the Laddakh region. It is recommended to be present in the leh or nearby area at least a day before the chadar trekking starts. The total distance to be covered under the ambit of this trekking is around 65 Km and it starts from Leh only. The total trek lasts for around 6-7 days and Tilad Do place acts as a starting point for the trek. Village Chilling is the point where you will find the river in a frozen state and have to cross it.
Details of Chadar trekking
After reaching the town of Leh, you must get acclimatized first, followed by some procurement of essential commodities to be used during chadar trekking. You will be checked for your health by government officials before boarding this trek, and if found unfit then sorry but you can be excluded. Because of the tough terrain and harsh weather you are going to be exposed to tiredness and toughness, throughout this entire trekking, and so your physical, medical, and mental conditions must be stable.
Initially, you will be shifted from Leh to Shingra Yokma through Chilling and Tilad Do. This is undertaken to give you first-hand experience of walking over the sheet of ice and to prepare you for the next part of trekking. By walking on this trail, you will come to know about the behaviour of the ice sheet as per your foot movements, and also you will be acclimatized to the sub-zero temperature. Here you will be halting and if feeling uncomfortable, you can exit the chadar trekking till the next day. But after passing one more day, there is no possibility of exiting and you have to be there throughout the trek, so you must decide accordingly.
Following days in the chadar trekking, you will be going through hard trekking trails. You will pass through Tibb caves, Naerak, and frozen waterfalls, while the green water of the river will be at your side. You will surely meet the local people with beautiful smiles on their faces. After the turn around you will be again passing through the same trek with frozen waterfalls and through Gyalpo to Leh town. Through this trekking, you will cross the big elevation difference starting from 11,123 feet to14,400 feet.
Rough Itinerary for chadar trek
Almost schedule will be followed during the entire trek by each trekker group which you are going to follow is like:
Day 1: Arrival at Leh
Day 2: Acclimatization Day
Day 3 – Medical Checkup and Shopping for the trek
Day 4 – Leh to Shingra Koma via Chilling & Tilad do and Trek to Gyalpo
Day 5 – Gyalpo to Tibb Cave
Day 6 – Tibb cave to Naerak camp
Day 7 – Naerak to Tibb Cave
Requirements for Chadar trekking
- 1. Health: You must be physically and mentally fit prior to undertaking this trek. You will be exposed to many uncertain climatic conditions en route, which may break a person mentally if he is not physically fit to cope up with the challenges.
- 2. Experience does matter : You should have enough experience of trekking prior to undertake this particular trek because a novice trekker will not be able to complete this trek because of its harsh weather and tough terrain.
- 3. Strong Shoulders : You must have strong shoulders enough to carry at least 10 kg weight over them for continuous 8 days and 65 Km. Because you are not going to get any help en route as this trek route is challenging because of its climatic and weather conditions.
- 4. Commitmnet : You must have strong commitment and conviction to complete the trek, otherwise, it will lead you to the troubles en route and you will find yourself in a situation where any type of help is not at all expected.
- 5. Medical Conditions : You should not have any type of heart or lung-related medical issues, and if so, you must immediately drop the idea of Chadar trekking. Because the difficult terrain and climate make it challenging for the trekkers to breathe normally. If you are having issues that can cause discomfort in breathing, you must avoid it because you are not going to get any type of medical assistance en route.
- 6. Warm Clothing : It is highly recommended to carry enough warm clothing with you during the trek because you are going to experience harsh weather en route. You will find the river Zanskar in a frozen state, so you can easily imagine the harshness of the climate there during the trek.
Things to carry on Chadar trek:
For detail about what all to carry during the trip, you can go through another blog on 8 things to carry on a trip where each minute things are discussed in detail for your reference. For ready reference you can include:
For Head– Muffler, Monkey cap
For face– moisturizing cream, lip balm
For eyes– good quality sunglasses
For hand– gloves, protectors
For legs– knee protectors, good quality 5-6 pair socks, good waterproof shoes
Clothing– warm inner garments usually 5-6 pairs each, jackets and pants with zip must
Medical items– Do carry a small travel medical kit.
Other Accessories: Tents, Sleeping Bags, Plastic covers for collecting your food wastage.
Dos and Donts for Chadar trek
Here are some general and important points for you to consider before planning your trek, and you must adhere to these to make your experience momentous.
Do’s of Chadar Trek
- Don’t act over smart and follow the instruction properly
- It’s always good that before boarding, proper planning must be there for the entire trip. You can check 12 things to consider for planning a trip and it will surely help you in your planning part.
- For detail about what all to carry during the trip, you can go through 8 things to carry on a trip where each minute thins is discussed in detail for your reference.
- Always try to reach the destination one day prior, to get acclimatized, and also to shop for necessary items throughout the trekking.
- You must update about your location to your near one, in event of any unforeseen thing happen.
- You will not find and medical help en route, so it is advised to carry a small travel medical kit with you before starting.
- Listen to the guide and act as per his advice only
- You can ask local people as they have enough experience and knowledge about the terrain there.
- You must not act over smart, because walking over an ice sheet is not an easy task to complete.
- Please pay proper attention to the rules of territory and especially monasteries and we have no right to cause a disturbance.
Don’ts of Chadar Trek
- Don’t litter and carry your leftover back
- Water flowing nearby is used by local people for drinking purposes, so you must not contaminate it.
- Don’t try to disturb the peaceful nature prevailing there and especially in the monasteries.
- Don’t bring Tobacco, Alcohol during trekking as it is not permitted.
Services Available in Laddakh Region
Mobile connectivity – Mobile connectivity can be assumed as Not available because, in most of the regions and valleys, you don’t have access to it. Mobile network is found only around the major towns like Leh and Kargil.
Medical facilities– No, Medical Facilities and Hospitals are not available in the region. The only town of Leh has some good facilities and no other part will be serving you with any of it except some basic first aid.
ATM– ATM is available only in the town of Leh. You will not find ATMs anywhere in the entire region except here. So it is recommended to carry enough cash while travelling to the region.
Fuel Station– Fuel stations or Petrol Pumps are available on the highway only and that also not so frequent to access. So it’s better to drive with enough fuel so that can catch another station located distantly. After Leh- Manali highway the first petrol pump you can find is at Tandi village. However, black fuel can be found in the village Karu, Spangmink, Chusul, Tangtse, Chumthang.
Automobile Repair shops will be accessible in major towns like Leh and Kargil only. In the rest part of the region, there is hardly any repair shop for your vehicle, so be mentally prepared for handling any contingency of breakdown.
Tips to visit Laddakh Region
Some small tips will help you in Planning your Trip efficiently. These tips must be kept in mind before boarding the beautiful region of Laddakh. To get details you can go through other blogs on Things to carry on the trip as well.
Driving by Bikes: If you are a bike rider and visit the lake by bike, you should carry enough fuel with you. As there is no fuel station available from Leh/Srinagar onwards and you have to be self-sufficient for that purpose. Also, an option of bike repair will not be found easily, so must have a mechanic with you or else have an arrangement prior.
Do carry necessary documents to prove your identity, in case asked. As you are travelling to border areas where frisking can be there by the security forces, you should be in a position to furnish all details to them when asked.
Don’t Disturb the Beauty: You are travelling to a beautiful location, and it is our moral duty not to disturb the beauty. Don’t throw garbage and keep all your used baggage with you and dispose of it at a designated place only. Please don’t throw Plastic and other garbage in this hill area, and if possible collect and dispose of it off at the designated place.
Be polite with the local people out there, because they welcome travellers with a warm smile. It is our duty to maintain harmony to benefit future travellers.
Be Free and always plan your travelling in such a way that you have enough time available with you to explore to destination fully. Because travelling with a disturbed mind or under paucity of time will spoil your entire trip.
Medical Facility: If possible carry some minimum required medicines in your First Aid Box with you because the availability of medicine is scarce in the region. You can go through the checklist of minimum required medicines in the other dedicated blog on the Travel medicine kit.
Required Clothing items must be carried along in the trip to this region. Proper winter clothing, including socks, undergarments, shoes, pants, and shirts, keeps the region’s harsh cold weather in mind.
Carry enough cash while travelling, as there will be no ATM or internet banking facility in the far-flung areas of the valley. Most of the iconic places are located in the deep valley or on the border area where there is no cash-dispensing mechanism.