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Chadar Trekking – a perfect combo of Thrill with Trekking

Chadar Trek- a lifetime achievement for trekkers

If you are in love with Trekking and you are a habitual trekker than Chadar Trekking will be a lifetime achievement for you. This trek got its name from the solid-state of river Zanskar which flows through Zanskar valley in the Laddakh region. Zanskar valley is the most isolated region in Laddakh and this place is isolated because of non-connectivity to the rest of the world for 8 months during the months of winter. Heavy snowing took place in the region which disconnects this region from the rest part. One and only way is to reach 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 explore this valley. In doing so, you will be exposed to frozen water trekking or 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 prior to your trekking. 

Why Chadar trekking 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 hike 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 for the people of Zanskar valley to connect the town of Chilling by walking over a frozen river.

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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 faces who are going for their daily usage life cycle, 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 this state in the winter season. But 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 or can say passes 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 center at Leh town or DM office in person. For the foreigner 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. So it is recommended to be present at least a day before the chadar trekking starts off.  The total distance to be covered under the ambit of this trekking is around 65 Km and it starts from Leh only.

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The total trek lasts for around 6-7 days and Tilad Do acts as a starting point for the trek. Village Chilling is the point where you will meet the river in a frozen state.

Details of Chadar trekking

After reaching the town of Leh, you must get acclimatized first, followed by some shopping to procure essential commodities to be used during chadar trekking.

You will be checked for your health by government officials prior to 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 throughout this entire trekking, the physical, medical, and mental condition must be stable.

Frozen Zanskar River en route Chadar Trekking
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Initially, you will be shifted or can say moved 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 behavior 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 be passing 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 a beautiful smile 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 14,400 feet to 11,123 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 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

U are qualified for Chadar trekking if:

  1. You are physically and mentally fit

2. You are an experienced trekker and not a beginner one

3. You have enough strength to sustain the harshness of weather

4. You have strong shoulders enough to carry at least 10 kg weight over them for continuous 8 days and 65 Km.

5. You have strong commitment and conviction to complete the trek

6. If you do not have any heart or lungs related medical issue which can cause difficulty in breathing.

Tips for Chadar Trek:

Be physically fit and mentally prepared for the tough terrain and its related exhaustion. Definitely, you will be exhausted once retiring for the day and must be well prepared to bear that. for exhaustion, you are going to expose to. Having tough in difficulty level, this trekking is not surely meant for the beginners, so you must have problems associated with it in mind. Harsh weather en route will take every test of your body in terms of giving fatigue.

frozen falls en route Chadar Trekking
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Warm clothing  As you are going to be exposed to harsh weather for the next week or so, you must have adequate protection for the body. It is advisable to have three to four thin layers of clothing over the body in place of one big layer of material. Air being a good insulator will give you an edge in fighting against the weather when having multiple thin layer clothing.

Your clothing for the full-body must be included and every part must be covered and should not be exposed to the weather.

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 pair each, jackets and pants with zip must

Medical items– Do carry a small travel medical kit.

Other Accessories: Tents, Sleeping Bag, Plastic cover for collecting your food wastage.

Dos and Donts for Chadar trek

Here are some points included for you to cater as Do’s and Don’ts during planning for your expedition to Chadar trek.

Do’s of Chadar Trek 

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 from local peoples as they have enough experience and knowledge about terrain there.

You must not act over smart, because walking over 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 disturbance.

Don’ts of Chadar Trek

Don’t act over smart and follow the instruction properly

Don’t litter and carry your leftover back

Water flowing nearby is used by local people for drinking purpose, so you must not contaminate it.

Don’t try to disturb the peaceful nature prevailing there and especially in the monasteries.

Don’t brink 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 region 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 facility 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 ATM anywhere in the entire region except here. So it is recommended to carry enough cash while traveling to the region.

Fuel Station– Fuel station 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

There are some small tips that will help you in Planning your Trip efficiently. These tips must be kept in mind before boarding to 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 visiting the lake by bike, then 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 arrangement prior.

Do carry necessary documents to prove your identity, in case asked. As you are traveling 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 traveling 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 at designated place only. Please don’t throw Plastic and other garbage in this hill area, and if possible collect and dispose it of at the designated place.

Be polite with the local people out there, because they welcome travelers with a warm smile. It is our duty to maintain harmony so as to benefit future travelers.

Be Free and always plan your traveling in such a way that you have enough time available with you to explore to destination fully. Because traveling 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 keeping the harsh cold weather of the region in mind.

Carry enough cash while traveling, 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.


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