Chadar Trek in Ladakh is like no other trek in the Himalayas. Walking on a frozen thick glass like river, with dramatic mountains on both sides, is an experience of a lifetime. At only 11150 ft altitude Chadar Trek almost feels like an expedition to the North Pole, where the temperatures drop down to -30 degrees at night, the ration is transported on sledges, you find refuge in caves and life blossoms on survival instincts, making it an eminently ‘do before you die’ trip. The Chadar trek allows you to get to know the Zankari culture up close through the locals you meet on the trek and experience their hospitality. One of the highlights of the Zanskar frozen river trek is the most magnificent waterfall frozen completely from top to bottom called Nerak waterfall. The best time for Chadar trek is from mid-January to mid-February, that is when the Zanskar river freezes and you get to walk on massive slabs of ice spreading for miles and miles. The landscapes and overall experience will leave their imprints on your hearts forever. When it comes to trekking In India, Chadar is the most glamorous trek. From 2019 onwards, the local administration has made it mandatory for every Chadar Trek participant to undergo a medical examination at SNM Hospital, Leh post which a fitness certificate would be granted. We would provide more information closer to the departure date on this aspect. Continue reading here for all important information like - Chadar Trek Temperature, Route Map, Itinerary, Photos, and Videos. We have some essential blogs linked at the end to help you prepare for Chadar - The best trek in India.
Arrive in Leh ( 9,800 FT)
The flight to Ladakh is absolutely scenic. Arrive in Leh by 12 PM. You get a birds-eye view of the entire city and the layers of snow-clad mountains will help you understand why it is impossible to reach Ladakh by road in winters. You will feel a drop in the temperature the minute you land at the Leh airport, which is also one of the highest airports in the world. Collect your bags and check in to your assigned hotels. Today’s day is extremely important for acclimatization, so try to stay outdoors as much as possible but try not to exert yourself. Leh is quite in the winters and very few shops and eateries are open for business. You can buy dry fruits from some of the shops at a very reasonable price and some woolen clothes too if you like. Take a stroll through the colorful Leh market during the day, and if possible, try to walk till Leh Palace and Namgyal Monastery. The colorful flags fluttering in the air and the view of the entire city from Namgyal Monastery is not to be missed. Drink plenty of fluids during the day to help you with acclimatization and prepare yourself to start the trek tomorrow.
Rest & Acclimatization in Leh
The day is reserved for acclimatization. Your leader may take you for a light acclimatization walk during the day. As per the new regulations by the local administration of Leh, you will have to get medically examined at SNM Hospital in Leh and today the checkup would be organized.
Medical Checkup in Leh
Today, you will have to get the mandatory medical checkup at the Tourist Information Center, obtain your NOC from ALTOA and Wildlife Department permit. Overnight stay in a hotel in Leh.
Leh to Shingra Koma via Bakula (10,550 FT, 70 Kms drive to Bakula, 2-3 hrs trek to Shingra Koma)
Today, we finally start on our Zanskar frozen river adventure. You drive along the beautiful Indus river and get a chance to see the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river at Nimmu. We are going to cover a total distance of 70 km by road and you will experience a few jaw-dropping moments as the vehicle makes its way around the narrow hairpin bends. It should take about 3 hours to reach Bakula and as you get closer, the inspiring sight of the frozen Zanskar will get you excited about the trek. Your leaders will soon give you tips on how to walk on Chadar. It takes a while to get the hang of it. We call it the ‘Penguin Walk’. Walk around as much as possible, it will help you get comfortable walking on a glassy ice sheet. You will fall a few times, and that is part of the overall experience. You will also be taught how to get inside your double layered sleeping bags before sundown. Today is an exciting day, as it is your first day of trekking on the frozen Zanskar river. You will get plenty of sunshine during the day, so wear comfortable clothes. 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 follow the sledge route. Always follow the sledge route used by the porters as it is the safest route on Chadar. You will get to your next campsite within 3-4 hours, depending on your speed. Your leaders will take you through a few learning modules about being in the mountains. You will have the campsite to yourself to explore and take pictures for the rest of the day. Camp overnight at Shingra Koma.
Shingra Koma to Tibb (10,760 FT, 14 Kms)
The biggest challenge from here on will be getting out of your warm sleeping bags and stepping outside your tent in freezing cold weather. The Zanskari people are well known for their hospitality and your staff will wake up way before you to ensure you have a hot cup of tea and a warm meal ready before you leave. Today is going to be a long walking session, you will cover a total 14 km on Chadar and it should take you about 6 to 7 hours to reach your next campsite. Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave, all liquids tend to freeze in this region given the extreme temperatures, so a thermos is extremely important. You will only get sunshine around 9-10 am, that too in patches as the giant rocky mountains on both sides of the Zanskar river tend to hide the sun. Marvel at the views as you walk in this huge valley with nothing but pure crisp air and huge rocks on both sides of you. The color of the Zanskar river flowing in the middle is vibrant and deep blue and sometimes you will see water flowing right beneath you under the thick ice sheet. You will see a few frozen waterfalls along the way. Your staff will cook you a warm meal mid-way, so fill your bellies and enjoy a hot cup of tea. By 3 pm, you’ll be at Tibb, and the last 200-meter walk is extremely gorgeous. Camp overnight at Tibb.
Tibb to Nerak (11,150 FT, 12 KMs trek)
Today is the most important day on the Chadar trek because you will get a chance to see the-mother-of-all-waterfalls ‘Nerak waterfalls’ after reaching your campsite. It is going to be another long day, so you will start early. Aim to reach Nerak campsite before 3pm, so you get plenty of time at Nerak waterfall. The sun will again be shunned from the Zanskar valley, so keep moving to keep your body warm. 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. You will have lunch inside a cozy cave mid-way, a cave huge enough to fit 12-15 people comfortably. Reach Nerak campsite, have some snacks and make your way to the gigantic Nerak waterfall. It should take you about 30 minutes to get there, and you might see a few domestic Yaks grazing the higher grounds along the way. 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, giving you a chance to see the age-old constructions. Spend some time marveling at the sight of Nerak waterfall, before heading back to the campsite for your dinner. Camp overnight at Nerak.
Nerak to Tibb (10,760 FT, 12 Kms trek)
Today, your trace your steps back to Tibb campsite. And if you think you are going to see the same frozen ice sheet again, think again. The frozen Zanskar river reacts to the slightest change in the temperatures, and constantly keeps changing its form. You will not be able to recognize the sights, it all seems so different on the way back. You might walk on a glass-like surface or patches and patches of slush, depending on the weather. Throughout the way, you will see the local porters wearing the traditional woolen robes called ‘Gonchas’, with colourful beads around their neck and their traditional hats. It’s fascinating to see the locals negotiating on the frozen river, as they seem to walk like the wind, absolutely comfortable with the slippery uneven icy surface. They will 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. Penguin walk your way to tibb and enjoy the rest of the day. Camp overnight at Tibb.
Tibb to Bakula (10,550 FT, 12.5 KMs trek). Drive to Leh.
Today is the last day of the Chadar trek, and we will hike to Bakula. It will take you about 7 to 8 hours to reach Bakula. From Bakula, we will drive back to Leh and that marks the end of the Chadar - The frozen river trek. Head back to the hotels, do a bit of last minute shopping before the market closes, and prepare to catch your flight as per your schedule. Stay at hotels in Leh.
Departure From Leh
We take our respective flights back home today. You will forever cherish the memories of one of the best treks in India.
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.
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
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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.
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.
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.
Chadar Trek best time is from first- the 1st week of January to the Second - 2nd Week of February.
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.
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.
The temperatures on Chadar trek are extreme. During nights they drop as low as -30 degree Celcius.
Yes, there will be snow on the Chadar trek.
Yes, you can offload your backpack. Weight limit for each bag is 12 kg.
A trek leader will be assigned to your batch nearing the date of the trek.
No, trekking poles are not necessary and must not be used on the Chadar Trek.
Only limited shops are open during winters in Leh. Therefore, you will be able to purchase only basic items like gumboots, gloves etc.
Yes, it is completely safe.
Yes, you will get certificates on completion of the trek.
We use four season tents for Chadar Trek. The sleeping bags we use are rated from -15 to -20 degree celcius.
There are no built up toilets on the trail. We comply with the rules and regulations given by the local authorities.
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.
We will reach the hotel in Leh by the afternoon.
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.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure