Chadar - The Frozen River Trek

Ladakh 9 Days

Difficult

62 KM

MAX 15

MAX ALTITUDE

3399 mts.


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Available Batches

9 Jan - 17 Jan ( FULL )

16 Jan - 24 Jan ( FULL )

20 Jan - 28 Jan ( FULL )

22 Jan - 30 Jan ( FULL )

23 Jan - 31 Jan ( FULL )

27 Jan - 4 Feb ( FULL )


Brief Description

It’s thrilling! It’s intriguing! It’s challenging! It’s unpredictable! And what’s better is it packs a whole lot of surprises for you to uncover each day. If you are someone who likes the sound of ‘extreme’, ‘harsh’, ‘ice, ‘cold’, ‘unpredictable’ in front of the word ‘adventure’, Chadar Trek in Ladakh is probably your soul trek because these are the very elements that make this wonder of a trek an experience unparalleled in the vast landscape of the Himalayas. Chadar which literally means ‘a blanket’ very accurately describes this trek which is literally a walk on a thick sheet of ice formed over the tantalizing blue of Zanskar River – white as milk in some places and in some translucent so you feel literally like you are walking on the water. It is as magical as it sounds, and no, it is not easy! Although it does not involve too much of a gain in altitude, 9 days will seem 9 too few to learn how to walk on ice, to adapt to the extreme temperature which drops to as low as -30 degrees and is likely to make you feel like your fingers might fall off. But for these very reasons, it is a trek worth doing! With sledges as a means of transporting ration, and caves as the only refuge from the changing weather, being on Chadar is like being teleported to a strange land experienced only by a few - it is a geographic marvel through and through.

With no sense of constancy, the landscape changes with a blink of an eye, with the ice and snow constantly changing shape and form, one more unstable than the other. And to think that the biggest adventure of your life is just a daily life routine for a few – communities living in the region do this every single day to go about their daily living – is quite a humbling realization. You get to see the land through the eyes of its people as you meet the locals on your trail. The trek is not only about the beauty of the landscape but a lesson and insight into a whole different way of living. It gives you a window into the colourful yet harsh life in the Zanskar Valley.

If you are ready to explore a Himalayan culture, to soak in the colours of the city, to be engulfed by the cold winds and are ready for any challenge that might come your way, we suggest you bring yourself to this cold haven with a frozen river underneath and dramatic landscapes all around. If each day on this trek didn’t bring something new, the highlight of the trek could very easily be Nerak waterfall which is a massive waterfall frozen in time. What’s amazing about this trek is that every person who lives through the experience has a different story to tell because that’s how quickly things take a turn here in this part of Ladakh!

The best time for Chadar trek is the month of Janaury. Stay on this page for more information on this glorious trek.



Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Leh (3,500 M)

The trek starts from Leh, which is a headway into Ladakh that is home to some of the highest peaks in the region. Because the roads are shut, the only way to get to Ladakh in winters is through air. There are flights that fly into Leh through Delhi and this two hour journey is where the magic begins. Try to get a window seat on the plane for the bird’s eye view of the Himalayas is absolutely mesmerizing.

Day one is reserved for you to make your way to Leh and get settled into your accommodation. Since you will be coming to this altitude from sea level, the body will need time to get comfortable with the altitude and the mountain air. Winters in Leh are quite harsh but the cold you experience here is only just the beginning!


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Day 2

Rest and Acclimatization in Leh (3,500M)

Day two is reserved for rest and acclimatization to the altitude, too. This is important to allow your body to adapt to its new environment and reduce chances of adverse health conditions. You can go around and explore the city market, delve into the colors and culture of this high-mountain city and visit some places nearby. A little movement around the city would be good for acclimatization. Also, use this time to go through your checklist and do some last-minute shopping for what you might be missing for the trek. Leh has the best market for trekking essentials.

While the body acclimatizes, we take this time to get together with the group for a debriefing session where we get to know each other better and delve into the happenings of the next few days - schedule, what to expect, basic do's and don'ts in the mountains, how to maintain the sanctity of the environment and other such matters of importance.


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Day 3

Rest and Acclimatization in Leh (3,500M)

Day 3 is also reserved to adapt to the cold winters of Leh. The only other thing on the agenda is a mandatory medical check-up at the Tourist Information Centre which is essential to obtain a NOC from ALTOA and a permit from the Wildlife Department to trek on Chadar.


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Day 4

Leh (3,500M) to Shingra Koma via Bakula (3,215M)

Distance: 70 Kms drive to Bakula

Duration: 2-3 hrs trek to Shingra Koma

Today is going to be our first actual day on Chadar – the first day when we trek in this winter wonderland. But not before we drive to Bakula which is the starting point of the trek. We start early in the morning to drive along the beautiful Indus River and past the confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers at Nimmu. This short 70 km drive which should take close to 3 hours to cover, offers some of the most spectacular views as the vehicle goes around some narrow hairpin bends. As we inch closer to Bakula, we start to see the frozen marvel – Zanskar, waiting in all its glory. Once out of our vehicle and on the Chadar, the trek leaders will give you some quick tips on how to best manage yourself on this sheet of glassy ice. It will take a while to get a hang of it so don’t worry if you don’t get it right, right away – no one does. Walk around as much as you can using the Penguin Walk and you will soon find yourself giving tips to others.

The best thing about Chadar trek is that you walk on a flat surface throughout the trek. There are no steep ascents or descents and very little chance of catching AMS since you don’t gain any altitude throughout the trek. If you are comfortable today, you are already acclimatized and you should be able to finish the entire trek without any major issues.

Depending on the weather, the Chadar changes its forms. It can be hard and glass-like in some patches, or it can have a layer of powder snow on it giving you a better grip, or you could face thin ice in certain areas, so you might have to walk in slush or dodge that entire patch and go over the rocks on the side of the river. Walk together as a team and always follow the sledge route used by the porters as it is the safest route on Chadar.

We should reach the next campsite within 3-4 hours, depending on our speed and will spend our first official night camping on Chadar.


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Day 5

Shingra Koma to Tibb (3,280M)

Distance: 14 Kms

Duration: 6-7 hours

The hardest part from here on is getting out of the warm sleeping bag and your cozy tents to step out into the freezing cold. However, the people of Zanskar are known for their hospitality – you will always wake up to a hot cup of tea and a meal waiting for you - all of which makes waking up in subzero temperatures just a little bit easier.

Today is a long day with 14 long kilometers to our next campsite. Since walking on Chadar is not the easiest, this should take anywhere between 6-7 hours to cover. Remember to top up your thermos with warm water – regular water bottles cannot fight the cold of Chadar and the water tends to freeze up. Sunshine in this bend of the land is a scarce commodity as well. You will only see the sun for an hour or two on the trail and that too, in patches since the walking trail is fenced by giant mountains on both sides. Marvel at the views as you walk in this huge valley with nothing but pure crisp air and huge rocks on both sides. The color of the Zanskar river is a vibrant deep blue that matches the blue of the sky on a clear, sunny day. The trail also offers frozen waterfalls all along the way. We stop along the river to cook our meals so that we are not walking empty-bellied. The last 200M to Tibb is stunning. Expect to reach the campsite by late afternoon.


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Day 6

Tibb (3,280M) to Nerak (3,400M)

Distance: 12 km

Duration: 5-6 hours

At the end of today we get introduced to one of the biggest highlights of Chadar trek, the mother of all waterfalls – Nerak Waterfall. It is going to be another long day, so we begin early and aim to reach the waterfall by late afternoon so that we have all evening to marvel at it. The sun makes an exit from the Zanskar Valley early and the only way to keep warm is to keep moving. The ice in various patches is broken in the middle of the frozen river, forming geometrical structures of various shapes and sizes, which are fascinating to see. The lunch today is peculiar too, inside of a cozy cave, mid-way through our day. The cave is massive and can fit 12-15 people comfortably. Once we make it to the campsite, we feast our bellies to some snacks and make our way to the gigantic Nerak waterfall. It should take us about 30 minutes to get there. Along the way, we might even see a few domestic Yaks grazing the higher grounds. Right next to the waterfalls is a bridge across the river, which takes you up to Nerak village. It’s fascinating to see the old wooden bridge under the new concrete/steel bridge. We spend some time at the Nerak waterfall, before heading back to the campsite for dinner.


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Day 7

Nerak (3,400M) to Tibb (3,280M)

Distance: 12 kms

Duration: 6-7 hours

After that thrill of a climax which is Nerak waterfall, we start our journey back to where we came from. Today, we head back to Tibb campsite but nothing on Chadar is ever the same. If you think you know the route back and can predict the challenges for the day, you are in for a surprise. The frozen Zanskar river reacts to the slightest change in temperatures, and constantly keeps changing its form – hence, even though the trail is the same, it is different! Pay close attention to all the changing sounds as you walk on different kinds of surfaces – it is fascinating. Along the way, we see local porters wearing traditional woolen robes called ‘Gonchas’, with colourful beads around their neck and their traditional hats. It’s fascinating to see the locals negotiating the frozen river, as they seem to walk like the wind, absolutely comfortable with the slippery uneven icy surface. They greet you using the local phrase ‘Julley’ which is the Ladakhi term for hello/welcome. You might also catch a few locals singing traditional Ladakhi songs while pulling their sledges and enjoying the journey. We penguin walk our way to Tibb, as the locals zoom past us with such ease.


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Day 8

Tibb (3,280M) to Bakula (3,215M) and drive to Leh (3,500M)

Distance: 12-13 km trek

Duration: 7-8 hours

For our last day of the trek, we head back to where we started from – and we’ve come a full circle. To reach Bakula, we should take 7-8 hours. The drive back to Leh should be close to 3 hours from there on. We stay the night at a hotel.


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Day 9

Departure from Leh

The trek ends here. If you plan to stay for a few more days to explore the wonders of Ladakh, the article below might help start you off on what places to consider. Places that you must visit in Leh Ladakh

Like we indicated before, the weather on high-altitude is unpredictable as are many other conditions. We would suggest you keep spare days between the end of the trek and your travel arrangements to head back home.



Frequently Asked Questions

Pick your question

Eligibility: Is this trek good for me?

Chadar Trek is a winter trek walking over the blanket of frozen Zanskar River. The 9-day Zanskar frozen river trek goes through extreme weather conditions with snow all around. Walking over ice can be tricky due to the uneven formation of ice. There may be places where there is no ice sheet formed. There you will have to forge a new trail trekking over snow embankments. The temperature in night falls down to - 30degree Celsius sometimes. The conditions are harsh but not unbearable. The experience is unique in itself as no other trek can claim to have such conditions. Anyone wanting to experience extreme weather conditions along with rarest of views should do Chadar trek in Ladakh.

Eligibility: Experience required

  • Should have at least 7-10 Himalayan trekking days in your kitty.
  • For the trek’s achieving more than 3500 m at least, one should have an experience of trekking at altitudes higher than 2500 meters.
  • One should have done at least one Moderate Plus Category trek.

Eligibility: Requisite Skills

  • How to walk on snow
  • How to use basic mountaineering equipment like gaiters & micro spikes
  • Basic principles of acclimatization

Eligibility: Fitness benchmark

  1. Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better)
  2. Hold your breath for 40 seconds
  3. 3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch
  4. Push Ups – 10
  5. Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets

If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.

Packing List: What to pack



Click here for packing list.

Connectivity: How to Reach the base of the trek & how to go back from the end point?

Chadar trek begins from Leh in Ladakh. The best travel option around Leh is by air.
By air: Jet Airways, GoAir, and Air India provide daily flights from New Delhi to Leh. It is recommended that you make your flight bookings well in advance not only to save on the price but also for a confirmed seat. You can also take an alternate flight route to Srinagar. Fly to Srinagar from Delhi and then drive to Leh from Srinagar. The 10 hour road journey from Srinagar to Leh can be covered by hiring a shared taxi which will cost you around INR 3000-4000. The drive route from Srinagar to Leh is scenic. For coming back, you can either take a direct flight from Leh to New Delhi. Or take the same route via Srinagar. Flights from Srinagar to Delhi are cheaper than Leh-Delhi.
By road: You can take the route from Manali to Leh. Travel from Delhi to Manali by a HRTC Volvo bus. From Manali get a seat in a shared taxi (INR 2500-3500). If you are on a tight budget, There is also a bus from New Delhi to Leh (via Manali) with one side fare of INR 1365. The bus journey begins at 2:30 pm from Delhi ISBT reaching Keylong next day at 1:30 pm. After an overnight halt at Keylong, it reaches Leh the next day. The another route to Leh can be taken through Srinagar. There are shared taxis from Srinagar to Leh available at cost of INR 3000-4000. If you are an ardent biker, you wouldn’t mind taking a bike trip from Delhi to Leh and back.

Nearby attraction: What are the nearby attractions that I can explore?

There are so many enchanting places to visit in Leh-Ladakh. During your acclimatization period, you can roam around the town and visit the monasteries; Diskit Gompa, and Lamayuru Monastery. Drive up to the Magnetic Hill and experience the crazy magnetic phenomenon on the hill. The picturesque Nubra Valley will take your breath away. The green oasis villages, the monasteries, the ruined palaces- Turtuk and Bordang; there is a whole different culture in this place. It is 150 km away from Leh. you can take a shared taxi to this route. How can you leave Ladakh without seeing Pangong Lake, the sapphire blue lake. You can also visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib and Leh Royal Palace.

Connectivity: What is the cellular network connectivity for this trek?

BSNL has the best connectivity in Leh-Ladakh region followed by Airtel. However, you won’t receive any connectivity once you move further on the trek.

Best Season: What are the best months to visit this trek?

Chadar Trek best time is from first- the 1st week of January to the Second - 2nd Week of February.

Age limit: What is the minimum & maximum age limit?

The minimum age limit for Chadar trek is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied by their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.

Packing List: How should I pack my rucksack?

Packing List: How should I select my trekking shoe?

About the activity: Why should I go for this trek?

Chadar Trek Ladakh

Chadar - The frozen river trek is one of the most glamorous treks in the country. This trek finds it's place on every trekker's bucket list. You literally walk on a thin sheet of ice. Bearing extreme temperatures is the toughest part of Chadar trek. Along with the beautiful trail, the trekker especially enjoy the breathtaking views of the frozen Nerak Falls.

Accommodation: What will be the accommodation type in this trek?

At Leh, trekkers stay at a guest house on a twin/triple sharing basis. During the rest of the trek, camping is done on the trail.

Weather conditions: What will the temperatures be like during this trek?

The temperatures on Chadar trek are extreme. During nights they drop as low as -30 degree Celcius.

Weather conditions: When will there be snow on this trek?

Since this trek is done only in Jan- Feb period, snow is always there on this trek.

Miscellaneous : Is there an option to offload my backpack?

Yes, you can offload your backpack. Weight limit for each bag is 12 kg.

Miscellaneous : Who will lead us on the trek?

A trek leader will be assigned to your batch nearing the date of the trek.

Miscellaneous : Is the trekking pole necessary?

Microspikes & Trekking poles are not allowed on Chadar trek. This is because the pointed ends of these can cause the Chadar to break.

Miscellaneous : Are there any local stores/shops from where I can shop trekking necessities?

Only limited shops are open during winters in Leh. Therefore, you will be able to purchase only basic items like gumboots, gloves etc.

Miscellaneous : Is it safe for a solo woman traveller to trek in Fixed departures?

Yes, it is completely safe.

Miscellaneous : Will you give certificates on completion of trek?

Yes, you will get certificates on completion of the trek.

Equipment and facilities: What kind of tents and sleeping bags will be provided to us?

We use four season tents for Chadar Trek. The sleeping bags we use are rated from -15 to -20 degree celcius.

Equipment and facilities: Are there any washroom/toilet facilities on the trek?

There are no built up toilets on the trail. We comply with the rules and regulations given by the local authorities.

Transport: In case we opt for the transport with you, where will you pick us from and where will you drop?

We do not provide transportation from the airport to the hotel. However, you can opt for local taxis and buses that ply between airport and Leh city regularly. It takes 10-15 minutes to travel from Airport to hotel.

Transport: What time will you drop us at the end point on last day of the trek?

We will reach the hotel in Leh by the afternoon.

Equipment and facilities: What equipment can I rent from you?

You can rent trekking equipment from us through our rental portal : http://rent.bikatadventures.com . The facility of rental gear is subject to availability. Please book in advance. For any assistance, feel free to contact our post booking assistance number: 8588878499

Equipment and facilities: What kind of food will be provided for the trek?

The meals in Leh aren't included in the fee. In Leh, you can try different restaurants serving all types of cuisines. During the trekking days, our team of kitchen staff will be there who will cook fresh meals for you.


Why Bikat

Learning Experience
  • We are an Adventure Learning Organisation first.
  • We want you to not just complete a trek safely but also pick up some basic trekking knowledge and skills along the way.
  • To achieve this we have integrated learning modules into our itineraries.
  • These modules will help you build the necessary skills to progress from trekking to mountaineering over time.
Loyality Programs

Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.

  • Currently we have three levels:
  • Basic Membership
  • Summiteer Membership
  • Leader Membership
Personalized Attention
  • Our group sizes on treks don’t exceed 15 members in order to maintain a healthy Participants : Leader Ratio of 8:1.
  • Over time we have found this number to be optimum when it comes to ensuring personalised attention to every member of our group.
  • On mountaineering expeditions this number is even smaller. Our group sizes are capped at 12 members ensuring a Participants : HAP Ratio of 2:1.
Best Expedition Leaders
  • Our Expedition leaders are advanced mountaineering course qualified, specially trained in rescue procedures from NIM and certified first-aid responders.
  • Even our local guides are certified first-aid responders.
Eco-friendly Practices
  • Group sizes are capped at 15 people.
  • Batch sizes are capped at 250 people per trail per season.
  • We follow a rolling campsite model.
  • We are constantly exploring and introducing new trails to reduce the burden on existing ones.
Safety

For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.

  • To ensure this:
  • Every region of ours is mapped with an emergency evacuation plan.
  • The equipment we use is UIAA certified.
  • Our trek leaders are AMC certified with specialisation in rescue procedures.
  • Our support staffs are trained in first aid as well.

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What's Included

Whats Included

  • Camping during the trek on twin sharing basis and hotel stay in- Leh on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 8 on twin/triple sharing basis.
  • Meals during the trek starting lunch on Day 4 till lunch on Day 8
  • Trek equipment includes Dome Tents (twin sharing), Siachen sleeping bags, mattress
  • Helmet, Gaiters, Harness & Carabiners as required
  • Experienced & mountaineering certified trek Leader with first aid certification.
  • Services of Guide, Cook and Support team
  • Transport from leh to Road head and return

Whats Not Included?

  • Meals during hotel stay in Leh
  • Any expenses incurred on medical examination in Leh
  • Gum Boots will not be provided by us. Please carry your own Gum Boots or buy the same in Leh.
  • Inner Line Permit Fee
  • Any kind of personal expenses
  • Any kind of Outdoor Insurance
  • Portage of personal luggage
  • Anything not specifically mentioned under the head price Includes
  • Altoa & Environmental / Wildlife Permit Fee. Approx Charge 6k to 8k to be paid on the spot to the authorities

Cancellation Policy

Cash Refund

Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
5% Deduction

Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
50% deduction

Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund

Voucher Refund

Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
No Deduction

Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure
No Refund

Please note
  • Cash refund is applicable only in case of bookings made without using any promotional offer code or vouchers.
  • This is only a brief of cancellation terms. For finer details please refer Detailed Cancellation Policy.

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