11 Nov, 2022

Chadar Trek 2023 Ladakh - A Hike That Clings To The Frozen River



In this article, we talk about the best time to visit Chadar Trek and what to pack for this journey, how to reach there, and some other things that you should remember before you set off for your adventure. Chadar Trek is one of the most popular treks in India. The trek takes you through the Zanskar valley, which is a part of the Himalayan mountain range. The trek is considered to be one of the most challenging as it passes through some of the most remote and inaccessible areas.


The Chadar Trek starts from Leh, which is the capital of Ladakh. Leh is a high-altitude desert town and is located at an elevation of 3,505 m (11,500 ft). It takes around 3 days to reach Leh from Delhi by road. From Leh, the trekking route goes through Chilling, Shingra Koma, Tilat Do, and finally reaches Padum, which is the last village on the route.


The Chadar Trek can be undertaken between January and February when the Zanskar river freezes over and forms a thick sheet of ice. This is what gives the trek its name, as 'chadar' means 'sheet of ice' in Hindi. The temperatures during this time can drop as low as -30°C (-22°F), so it's important to be well-prepared before embarking on the trek.


The Chadar Trek has been rated as one of the best treks in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine. It was also featured in BBC's list of '10 things to do before you die.


What are the Things to Carry for Chadar Trek ?


Assuming you have all the necessary permits, here is a list of things you should carry for Chadar Trek: 


  • -Walking stick 
  • -Trekking shoes with a good grip 
  • -Thick socks 
  • -Two pairs of gloves (woolen and waterproof) 
  • -Balaclava or woolen scarf to cover your face 
  • -Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturizer 
  • -Sunglasses and goggles to protect against snow blindness 
  • -A first aid kit including medicines for cold, cough, headache, diarrhea, etc. 
  • -High-energy snacks like chocolates, biscuits, dry fruits, etc. 
  • -A thermos flask filled with hot water or tea/coffee 
  • -2 liters of water per day (can be reduced if you are carrying a water purifier)


What are the Things to Remember for Chadar Trek ?


When planning a Chadar Trek, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Here are a few tips to help you plan and prepare for your adventure:


  1. Choose the right time of year: The best time to embark on a Chadar Trek is between January and February when the Zanskar River is frozen solid.
  2.  Start planning early: As the Chadar Trek is a popular adventure, it's important to start planning your trip well in advance. This will ensure you can get the permits and bookings necessary.
  3. Get prepared physically and mentally: A Chadar Trek is not for the faint-hearted. It's important to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead, such as extremely cold weather conditions and long days of walking on ice.
  4. Pack appropriately: Be sure to pack all the essential items you'll need for your trek, such as warm clothing, sturdy footwear, and basic first-aid supplies.
  5.  Hire a reputable guide: When embarking on a Chadar Trek, it's essential to hire an experienced and reputable guide who knows the route well.


How to Reach Chadar Trek ?


Assuming you are starting from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, there are a few ways to reach Chadar Trek. The most common way is to take a shared taxi from Leh to Tilat Sumdo, which is the last village on the road before the trek begins. From Tilat Sumdo, it is an easy 3-4 hour hike to your first night's camp at Shingra Koma.


Another way to reach Chadar Trek is to take a bus or shared jeep from Leh to Chilling, which is the starting point of the trek. From Chilling, it is a full day's trek to Tilat Sumdo and then another half day to Shingra Koma. This option is more expensive and time-consuming but it allows you to avoid the crowds that start the trek from Tilat Sumdo.


The third option is to fly from Leh to Padum, which is the largest town in Zanskar. From Padum, it is a two-day trek to Shingra Koma. This option is only recommended for experienced trekkers as it involves crossing several high passes along the way.


Can a beginner do Chadar Trek ?


Chadar Trek is a challenging and difficult hike and is not recommended for beginners. However, if you are a beginner and are determined to attempt the trek, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. First, make sure to train properly and get in good physical shape before the trek. Second, hire an experienced guide who can help you navigate the challenges of the trek. Finally, be prepared for extremely cold weather conditions and be sure to pack appropriate gear.


Why is Chadar Trek so hard?


The Chadar is a very slippery surface, and it can be very easy to fall. Trekkers need to be very careful when they are walking on the Chadar. They also need to be aware of the dangers of falling into the cracks in the ice.


The weather in Ladakh can be very extreme, and trekkers need to be prepared for cold temperatures and strong winds. The nights can be particularly cold, and trekkers need to make sure that they have warm clothing and sleeping bags.


The altitude can also be a problem on the Chadar Trek. Trekkers need to acclimatize themselves before they start the trek, and they need to take care while they are on the trek. If they start to feel unwell, they should immediately descend to a lower altitude.