So, what does one of the coolest treks in the world really look like? Well, you are about to find out.
I can boldly say that Chadar Trek is like no other trek in the world. I wouldn’t even personally classify it as a trek, Chadar according to me is an experience. It’s an opportunity to see a completely different world, tucked away deep within the valleys of the Zanskar region under a blanket of ice.
The raw and untouched beauty you see on the trek is the main reason why people all over the world fall in love with it.
Here are 15 gorgeous pictures of the trek that will give you a sense of life in the Zanskar valley.
One: A beautiful gorge
The mighty mountains on both sides of the Zanskar river form an awe-inspiring gorge. The sheer size of the rocks makes you feel insignificant. Time comes to a standstill here as you breathe in the life and silence around you.
Two: Beauty hidden underneath you
In here, the world above you is as beautiful as the world beneath you. Walking on an ice sheet with water flowing just a few feet below you makes your heart race out of disbelief and fear all at the same time.
Three: Honoring traditions
Falling on Chadar is a tradition you are going to have to uphold. It's inevitable. You will probably fall multiple times a day, and eventually start keeping a count of who fell the most in your gang. It’s all part of the experience.
Four: Ancient Trade Route
The frozen river stretching for a long 150 kms used to be an ancient trade route. Villagers would commute to Leh to sell Yak butter, copper utensils, goat skin and other handmade goods and bring back stocks for survival. It was, and still is, their only way to reach Leh during winters, until the Zanskar highway is fully constructed. Read up more about that here.
Five: The river brings life to the region
For villages in the remote Zanskar region, the river is the only source of drinking water and therefore is source of life.
Six: Your epic lunch spots inside caves
There are several caves along the river, that have been traditionally used by the villagers as shelters to survive the nights on their journey to and from Leh. Your team will cook a hot lunch for you in the caves.
Seven: The most alive and vibrant river
The Zanskar river has a vibrant personality. It flows ever so quietly at times, almost like a distant whisper, giving you time to adore the landscapes, at other times, it gushes forward full force with all its strength making its presence known. It is the living soul of the trek, and it brings the entire valley to life with its ever changing colours.
Eight: The challenging terrain
However, the river is extremely sensitive to the slightest change in the temperatures. Ice forms and breaks every few hours as the temperature rises and drops in the valley. The terrain will tranform every few kilometers and there is no knowing what challenges lie ahead of you.
You might have to navigate your way through thick slabs for broken ice...
Nine: The challenging terrain
...or walk for miles and miles in slush and dodgy thin ice. And all of that can happen within 24 hours.
Ten: Your 5 billion star hotel
The campsites on Chadar may not be the most spaced out, but as the day comes to an end, watch the sky come to life with billions and billions of stars. You camp next to a frozen river, under a thick blanket of stars, to me, that's more than perfect.
Eleven: Frozen Waterfalls
You will come across multiple frozen waterfalls along the way, but hold your breath for the-mother-of-all-waterfalls at Nerak.
Twelve: The pride of Chadar
Nerak falls will steal your heart. You will probably feel a range of emotions all at once when you see it for the first time. It’s hard to comprehend the beauty and the size of such a grand structure. The layers and layers of icicles suspended mid-air look surreal.
Thirteen: A birds eye view of the valley
You will get a view of the entire valley on your way to Nerak falls. Tap yourself on the shoulders, you made it this far and your heart will forever be bound to this region.
Fourteen: Remote villages
The first remote village you come across on the trek is Nerak. It is an hours hike from Nerak falls, and a total of 17 households occupy that village. You might see a few villagers near the falls guiding their domestic Yaks back to their villages.
Fifteen: Peace. Love. Prosperity.
The spirit of Ladakh is unbound and unwavering. Its a land of respect and kindness, of sharing what little they have, of protecting age old traditions and celebrating this beautiful life.
The world has much to learn from it's spirit. Only if we can make the time.
So, what do you say? Are you up for an adventure of a lifetime?
Find out more about Chadar here.
P.C Nitish Pandey