Zanskar is like no place in India - it remains cut off from almost beginning of November till around June beginning [around 7-8 months in a year]; as of now it gets vehicular access only when the Pensi La opens up thus making the road journey from Padum and nearby places to Kargil possible and beyond then to Leh or Srinagar. As such this region having an altitude of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet and covering an areas of 7000 sq km remain totally cut off. Zanskar river which takes it form onwards Padum after merging with its different tributaries flows in a north-easterly direction through the dramatic Zanskar gorge and merging with Indus river; the confluence being at Nimmu, just on the outskirts of Leh on the Leh-Kargil road.
Chadar trek is one of the most thrilling and adventurous trek in India in the local language “chadar” means blanket. The chadar trek is basically performed on a frozen river called the “Zanskar River”, during the summer this river doesn’t disappoint its enthusiastic tourist as it becomes a perfect location for river rafting expedition and during the winters it transforms into an ice sheet where the famous Chadar trek is performed.
For many years Chadar trek has attracted tourist from all over the world, it is one of the most exciting and challenging treks which covers the distance of approximately 105 km on foot, an average trekker completes a distance of 15-17 km each day.
The best time to do the Chadar trek is January to February, when the temperature during the winters drops sometimes to -30 to -35 degrees which makes the Zanskar Lake look like a mesmerizing crystal lake.
16th to 24th January 2016
Day 01: Arrival in Leh (3500 m)
Leh, which lies at an altitude of more than 3500 metres above sea level, is the second largest district in the country. In winters, as most passes leading to Leh are closed, you will be flown to the Leh airport, which has the distinction of being the highest airport in the world. As soon you land at the airport, take a taxi and proceed towards the pre-arranged hotel. Enjoy an overnight stay in the hotel.
Day 02: Drive to Chilling (3 hrs drive) and trek to Tilad Do camp 3100m (2 km, 1hrs trek)
In the morning we leave by private vehicles with our support staff to begin this amazing and most exciting winter trek. Shortly after leaving Leh, we reach Nimoo, the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers. The sight is amazing as the iced up and frozen Zanskar meets the fast flowing Indus. Travel distance between Leh and Chilling is around 64 KM. We reach now to the point, past the village of Chilling to where the road head ends. Touching the Chadar first time, we start the trek for 1-2 hrs along the magnificent frozen river
Day : 03 Tilad Do to Gyalpo camp 3170m (9 Km, 6 hrs trek)
Today is a long walking session, about 12 km, on the Chadar. Depending on the weather, the Chadar can assume various forms. It can be a cold and hard surface of slippery ice, or it can have a dusting of snow over it, providing a good grip. The ice can be thick or thin, and its best to keep closely following the guide. At places, it might be necessary to wade through ankle deep water, or climb on the cliffs at the side of the river After passing Shingra Koma, you reach the camp-site for the day at Gyalpo, where the tents have already been pitched by the porters.
Day : 04 Gyalpo camp to Dib Cave 3225m (14 km, 8 hrs trek)
After tea and breakfast in the morning, commence your journey for the day to Dib Cave. You might not see sunshine properly as the steep cliffs in this area obstruct them. Once you reach Dib, you will see a large cave. This is the place where you will halt for the night and rest. Enjoy overnight stay at the campsite.
Day : 05 Dib cave to Naerak camp 3390m (10.5 km, 7 hrs trek)
Today is the most spectacular of all days on this trek. Walking on the river you cross deep gorges and reach a point where Juniper trees are covered with prayer flags. A few steps away stands the mother-of-all frozen waterfalls – a huge instance of suspended animation several feet tall and equally wide. Right next to the waterfall is a bridge across the river which is a part of the summer-time road from Zanskar to Leh. The camp is set up close to the river.
Day : 06 Naerak to Tibb
Today you start your return trip and proceed towards Tibb. The return trail would not be easy and the river quickly reacts to any change in the temperature. By now the frozen river might have taken an entirely new form. Upon reaching Dib Cave, relax and stay overnight at the campsite.
Day : 07 Tibb to Shingra Koma.
In the morning, get ready to leave Tibb and proceed towards Shingra Koma, crossing Gyalpo. The trail today will give you a chance to witness high mountains and if you are lucky, pug-marks of wild animals like snow leopards, ibex and foxes.
Day : 08 Shingra Koma to Chilling and drive to Leh
Today, it finally would be the last day of your trekking excursion on the Chadar. As you head towards Chilling from Shingra Koma, click some final pictures as memories. Finally, on reaching Tilad Do, it would be time to bid goodbye to the locals of Zanskar. On reaching Chilling, drive to Leh and stay overnight at the pre-arranged guesthouse
Day 09: Depart from Leh
As this unforgettable journey gets over, you depart from Leh having a newfound respect for the Zanskaries who brave all odds and survive with style in their beloved land. This trek also leaves behind a tremendous feeling of accomplishment – one of having undertaken and endured an extraordinary and challenging trek. The Chadar trek will be a cherished memory for life.