Grade: Medium Trek
The locals here often say it Zanskar is our pride and Chadar trek is our lifeline during winters, and without them we are nothing. Experience the pride and prestige of the Zanskari people, battle the harsh climatic conditions as the mercury takes an extreme dip. Connect with the locals just like the confluence of Indus and Zanskar, understand their life saving techniques during the winter climate. You will not find them complaining to Almighty for remaining isolated from the rest of the countries but it gives the honor and opportunity to spend most of their time with the family and friends, sipping the Namkeen Chai and enjoying life. Chadar is mostly walking on ice sheets formed from the flowing water river of Zanskar and surviving in the drastic cold climate. Learn about the mountain ghost stories and the deities which protects the Zanskaris from failing during the winter harsh climate. Understand the attitude and spirit of keep going, no matter what and experience the most adventurous and thrill kicking trek of your life.
- Do note that during winters, the only way to get to Leh is through flight. Make sure you book an early flight and land at Leh by noon.
- Do not rush at the last minute and book your flight months prior to avail cheaper rates
- Since Leh is situated at an height of 11,800 feet, the strong cold winds will welcome you as soon you leave the plane. Make sure you have your gloves, jacket and woolen cap handy.
What is included in the tour
- Accommodation. (Camping) and Hotel in Leh (Day 1, and Day 8)
- Meals on all days (Veg.)
- Trek equipments, other than personal wear
- First aid medical kits and oxygen cylinder
- Qualified & experienced trek Leader, Guide and Support staff to help trekkers
- Transportation during the trek
What is NOT included in the tour
- Travel cost of arrival to Leh on Day 1.
- Travel cost of departure from Leh on Day 8.
- Lunch, dinner and snacks expenses on Day 1 and Day 8.
- Offloading of bags during the trek, if any.
- Any additional permit charges added by the local authorities.
- Any other expenses which are not included in the inclusions.
- Tax as Applicable
Day 1 – Arrive at Leh – Land of Passes and Mountains – Acclimatize and enjoy local sight-seeing
Book yourself a window seat on your flight to Leh and as soon as you enter the Leh region, peep down through your window and witness the undulating mountain passes and ranges of snow capped mountains spreading out its grandeur and shining brightly in the azure sky. As soon as you leave your plane, feel the blast of cold strong winds blowing right into your face and passing shivers throughout your body. Welcome to Leh, the dreamscape of mountains. Meet the Travel Trikon team at the Airport and head towards your Hotel. Witness the city shining under the blanket of white crystal snow. The temperature during daytime dips to -10 degree and further lowers to -25 degree as the night dawns upon us. Since most of the shops remain shut in winters, it is advisable to complete most of your shopping before coming to Leh. Drink the Salted Butter Tea or the Namkeen Chai (as the locals say it) and have a good nights’ sleep under the warm fuzzy blankets.
Day 2 – Drive from Leh to Tilad Do
Kick start your day with a heavy breakfast and calm your nerves as we bid goodbye to the warm comfort of the hotel. Drive through the majestic mountain bends with Indus river never leaving your side and experience the confluence of Indus river and Zanskar river at Nimu Village. A sight to behold! This confluence is worshipped by many locals and is also a major tourist attraction due to its sheer beauty. Pass through the many military camps and the lonesome market area of Chilling. Tilad Do, a small village ahead of Chilling is the starting point of your walk on the Zanskar river. Take your first step on the frozen Chadar and feel the thrill of doing the most adventurous thing in your life. You will experience different types of Chadar forming on the river and therefore it is extremely necessary to listen to the drill given by your team leader. Take small steps and master the art of walking on the ice sheet. Reach the campsite which is pitched across the river on its banks. To get you warm take a little short hike into the mountains and capture the overwhelming look of the frozen river. With the sunset, the temperature drips down drastically. Take shelter under the warm thick sleeping bags provided by the Travel Trikon team and call it a night.
Day 3 – Trek from Tilad Do to Gyalpo (12kms – 5-6hrs)
Enjoy the hot breakfast prepared by the team guides against the biting harsh cold and seek ample energy and motivation to get out of the thick warm blankets. The trek today towards Gyalpo is tedious and long. The Chadar surface can be very tricky to decipher. A coating of fresh powder snow is easy to walk. It provides great grip and you can continue through it without any hassles. An old hard and shiny surface of ice requires you to drag your feet on the surface without lifting it too much. The Chadar is formed depending upon the temperature and the weather during the nights. The formations and the texture of the Chadar never remains the same. At some places there will be thick snow and at some there will not Chadar at all. Climb through the mountain cliffs and reach the other side of the river where there is Chadar. The Chadar trek is an experience which is not similar to any other trek. It is advisable to take proper rest in between the trek and stay hydrated. The concept of packed lunches do not work for this trek. Reach Shingra Kongma and hog instant hot soupy noodles made by the team guides and get some energy going in the system. After passing Shingra Kongma, you will see the tents pitched on the banks of the river with huge mountains towering over us. Enjoy a cup of hot tea with the view. Get mesmerized by the amazing spells of nature.
Day 4 – Gyalpo to Tibb Caves (14 kms – 8 hours)
The trek from Gyalpo to Tibb Caves is a long one but also one of the most beautiful days of the trek. Follow the daily routine of instructions and leave Gyalpo by 08.00 AM to start your day. Walk through the deep pretty gorges of the river and get stunned by the numerous frozen waterfalls found along the Chadar. Catch distinguished drops of water, as if it has been frozen in action. Soon, you shall witness a massive waterfall on the left side of the river with prayer flags hanging in front of the frozen waterfall. This place is worshipped by the locals as the old tale reads out that one year Nerak ran dry and a holy man went to Kailash to pray for water. He came back with a pot full of water and 2 fishes. The condition was that he does not place the pot anywhere. On the journey back, it so happened that he placed the pot and this spot and two fishes jumped off creating two massive waterfalls. One of those waterfalls, miraculously, is not iced-up even in such freezing cold and you will see moss covered rocks underneath the waterfalls. Due to the massive walls of the rocks, the sunlight here is impenetrable. A couple of hours in the trek and you will find many caves on to the left again. Some smaller in size and some huge enough to accommodate 8-10 people. Many locals who use the Chadar trail use the caves as their place of accommodation. Enjoy the born fire in the Tibb cave which will make the space warm, share your experiences of the day with the fellow trekkers and enquire tomorrow’s trail with your guide and the staff. Relax your nerves and enjoy the warmth of a cup of black coffee. Dinner and Night halt at Tibb cave.
Day 5 – Transition from Tibb Cave to Nerak Village (12 kms – 7 hours)
Start your day early and traverse through the deep gorges and amongst the beautiful cliffs in the valley of Chadar. You will find variety of shrubs and herbs on the cliffs, which are of medicinal value still used by the local Amchi (traditional local doctor) to heal different ailments. The tall big trees of Juniper found all throughout the trail are considered auspicious in Buddhist philosophy and their twigs and the branches is used by the Buddhist in every ceremony as an incense stick. You will find numerous prayer flags across the branches of the Juniper trees, swaying happily to the tunes of the wind. Freeze in time as you are about to experience the most awaited water fall which falls in between the trail to Nerak village. Watch the reflection of the sunlight playing along the waterfall, while the surrounding mountains and the clear sky gives enormous colour on this big ice structure which is meters in height and equally wide in size. It is an image which is rightly found on postcards. Capture and freeze the beautiful crystal waterfall in your memory. Right after the waterfall, there is an old wooden bridge known as the Nerak bridge or pul which is used as a road in summer by the people of Leh. The village of Nerak lies 2000 ft above the Zanskar river, but the campsite would be pitched near to the banks of the river. Nerak is known to be the coldest region and therefore this will be the coldest point in your entire trek. Enjoy the warm dinner and call it a night under the starry sky. Overnight – Nerak camp site.
Day 6 – Back to Tibb Cave (12 kms – 7 hours)
If you think that know you know how the way back would be, you might want ot think again. The old Chadar breaks and a new Chadar is formed with changes in the temperatures. The completely new formations of the Chadar will definitely keep you baffled as you will be experiencing a whole new route altogether. See the locals dressed in their traditional woollen Gouchas, walking along the Chadar trail. There are monks from the Lingshed Monastery who hike to Leh and there are also some students who return back to their schools in Leh after their winter vacations. The inhabitants are much adapted to the harsh climate, the smile on their battered faces will encourage you to lead the trek and make it successful. Unlike other treks, there is no shift in terrains in Zanskar, the only odds are the cold and the ice. Master them and you will enjoy the beautiful dreamscapes during your trek.
Day 7 – Going reverse: From Tibb Cave to Gyalpo (14 kms – 8 hours)
The Chadar valley is rich and is known for its flora and fauna, the wild animals like ibex, red fox, Tibetan snow cook and the snow leopard owns the territory of this region. The ‘Ghost Cat’ as the locals call it is difficult to be sighted but you can always find their pug marks on the snow. They call you be lucky if you get to see the snow leopard on the cliffs on the mountains hunting its prey while the other wild animals roam in the valley in search of food.
Day 8 – Gyalpo to Tilad Do, and drive back to Leh
This is your last day to be among the crystallized beauty of the frozen Zanskar. The trekking staffs start singing local folk songs to pay tribute to Mother Nature to make the trek successful. It is your last chance to say goodbye to the local people who helped you during the trek and bid farewell to the amazing Chadar Valley. As you have accomplished the challenging trek, you will feel pride and it will be a cherished memory of your life. You have learnt the techniques and skill to survive in harsh extreme weather condition and also have witnessed the hard life the ZANSKARI people are facing, the respect and encouragement for the Zanskari people bravely fighting the odds, surviving and defeating and accepting the will definitely teach you a lifetime lesson to remember.
Day 9 – Depart from Leh
It is well said that ‘failing is not a crime but lack of efforts is’. Let your efforts pay off as you head back to the Leh Airport and bid farewell to the Zanskar river and its beautiful people, but only to return sometime.
Things to Carry
- A photocopy of your Identity Proof (Passport / Voter ID Card/PAN Card/Aadhar Card/ Driving License)
- Backpack or Haversack – If you are offloading your Haversack, you will need a small daypack to carry your basic essentials
- Good trekking shoes and a pair of slip-ons, if required for campsite
- Trekking pole – Always advisable to carry for extra grip and support
- 2 Water Bottles (1 litre each)
- Woolen or Fleece Gloves and a pair of waterproof gloves
- Cotton socks and woolen socks (5 and 3 pairs respectively)
- 1 Down feather/Hollofil jacket
- Balaclava, Woolen scarf – If you do not have a Balaclava, you can carry Monkey cap instead
- Thermal Inners
- Fleece Jacket, Snow Jacket or Padded Jacket (1 each)
- Windcheater or Poncho
- 2-3 pairs of trek pants
- 3 collared and full sleeved t-shirts – Do not carry loose t-shirts as they tend to make you feel cold
- Ready to eat snacks, Enerzyl Powder or Glucon D Powder – Carry nuts, dryfruits, energy bars to munch during the trek. They provide instant energy whenever it hits the lower base.
- Cap, Sunglasses – Do ensure that your sunglasses are UV Protected. Do not carry reflectors. If you wear spectacles, carry photo chromatic glasses. Please do not wear contact lenses for this trek
- Headlamp/LED Torch – Mandatory
- Toiletries – Sunscreen, Moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, wet wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, Hand Sanitizer, Mosquito repellent, if required
- Polythene Bags or Zip-lock Bags – These help to segregate wet clothes, used wet wipes or sanitary napkins on trek
- Any medicines that you normally consume – Please consult your doctor in this regard
Consuming liquor or any kind of Alcoholic substance and drugs is prohibited. Carrying any kind of substance that’s illegal is not allowed. Anybody found consuming alcoholic drinks and drugs will be expelled from the event without refund.
However please note that, Smoking in Public is strictly banned and a punishable offence.
Fitness & Health – Though trekking is a fun-filled activity, it demands good amount of physical fitness. If you are under medication, please carry your medicines. During the trek, leaders will have over the counter medication for temporary treatment, so do give a heads up to them if you need any medical assistance.