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By Sam K. Pandepa


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Introduction

Chadar Trek Trail

Chadar Trek Guide Map

Chadar Trek Difficulty Level

Weather and Temperature

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Acute Mountain Sickness

Acclimitization

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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10 - 16

How to Acclimatise Faster

Chadar Trek Itinerary

Hiking Essentials

Detailed Itinerary

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How To Reach At The Chadar Trek Starting Point

Prepare Your Body For The Chadar Trek

How To Prepare Yourself For The Extremely Cold Weather

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Tips On Keeping Yourself Warm During The Chadar Trek

Chadar Trek For Begginers

Importance of a Trekking Guide

25 Best Time For The Chadar Trek

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One of the most popular trekking destinations in India is Ladakh. It is prevalent among trekkers worldwide because of its terrific location and majestic beauty. The panoramic views of Ladakh are genuinely incredible and have been inspiring tourists to visit Ladakh for a long time. The beautiful mountains, serene environment, verdant valleys, golden desert, cascading waterfalls, flora & fauna, etc., are some of the factors which make Ladakh a popular destination for the travel enthusiast. Adventure seekers from all over the world visit Ladakh for trekking and other expeditions. Among all the trekking trails in Ladakh, the Chadar trek trail is different and unique. And that's why the Chadar trek is the most famous trek of Ladakh. 1


Chadar Trek Trail - The Hiking Route

Chadar trek trail connects Zanskar valley to other parts of Ladakh during the winter. As the valley remains isolated due to the road blockade by heavy snowfall, the frozen river of Zanskar is the only route to Zanskar Valley.

The icy trail of the Chadar trek attracts a lot of adventure enthusiasts for trekking. It is one of the most popular and challenging trails in India. During the trek, the river can be seen flowing under the sheet of ice, giving it a wonderful look.

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Arrival At Leh Airport First 3 Nights In Leh

Fitness Check-up On Third Day

Chilling Shingra Yokma

Camping Site Gyalpo Camping Site Tibb Cave Camping Site Nerak

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Chadar Trek Guide Map


EASY

hard

Chadar trek is not easy, nor is it very complicated. But before going on the Chadar trek, one must consider all the risks involved with this trekking including...

Acute Mountain Sickness

Acclimatization

Weather and Temperature

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Higher Altitude Lower Pressure

E L E V A T I O N

Lower Altitude Higher Pressure

Chadar trek takes place at an elevation of around 11k feet high. The air pressure decreases with the increasing altitude. Lower air pressure results in lesser oxygen to breathe to which the human body reacts. This high-altitude body reaction is known as AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). A few of the common symptoms of AMS are headache, dizziness, tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, etc.

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Acclimatization: It is the process of adjusting the body to the high altitude atmosphere (above 8k feet). As the lungs need to work harder to deliver the required amount of oxygen to the body, it usually takes 1 to 3 days for the body to adjust to the high altitude of Ladakh. However, in the case of the Chadar trek, it is mandatory to acclimatize for three days in Leh before starting the frozen river trek.

Tips for acclimatization

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Rest

Reduce activity

Medication

Stay hydrated

Eat healthy

Avoid alcohol/sugar


-15 to -30°C

Chadar trek takes place during the winter. The climate of Zanskar valley is very challenging due to its freezing temperature. The temperature can vary from minus 15 degrees to minus 30 degrees Celcius. So, the trekkers have to experience extremely cold weather, especially during camping at night when the temperature may drop below minus 30 degrees Celcius. 7


As per Marius Brazaitis, a senior researcher at LSU, the human body has the ability to achieve acclimatization to some extent. But it depends on their behavior whether they encourage or suppress this ability of acclimatization.

Rest on the first day of arrival in Leh. Get enough sleep for the first few hours and then visit Leh market or Shanti Stupa in the evening.

On the second day, you can visit a few nearby places in Leh. But remember not to travel to higher altitude places like Khardung La, Nubra, Pangong, etc. Reduce your activity on the first two days of arrival. Drink plenty of hot water not to let your body lose salt and water. During your stay in Leh, don't warm up the room too much to avoid exposure. Use heaters only on the first day of arrival. After that, try not to use room heaters to help the body adjust to the cold weather faster. Don't drink alcohol as it lowers your body's core temperature and slows down the process of acclimatization.

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C H A D A R

I T I N E R A R Y

DAY

Arrival at Leh Airport Night Stay in Leh

DAY

Acclimatization Leh Sight seeing Night Stay in Leh

DAY

Fitness test at designated health camp in Leh. Night Stay in Leh

DAY

Leh to Chilling and sightseeing places like Magnetic Hill, Hall of fame, Sangam, etc. Frozen river trek up to Gyalpo Camping site

DAY

Frozen River Trek up to Tibb Cave Night Stay at Tibb cave camping site

DAY

Frozen River Trek up to Nerak Night Stay at Nerak camping site

DAY

Return to Tibb Cave Night Stay at Tibb cave camping site

DAY

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Trekking up to Shingra Yokma. Pickup from Chilling and drive to Leh Night Stay in Leh

DAY

Departure

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T R E K

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Packing Tips Packing is a crucial aspect of any trekking. And trekking for the Chadar trek is more critical due to the extreme environment.

Don't carry unnecessary items, and try to pack as light as possible so that you can walk easily carrying the backpack. Pack the most frequently used items at the top which are easily accessible. Eatable and drinkable items are an example of frequently used items. Pack the less frequently used items at the bottom of the bag. Items such as sleeping bags or other kinds of stuff that you will need at camp and not during the hiking are the least used items. Keep the related items together while packing. After packing the bag pack, keep it straight on the ground; it should stand directly without any support.

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Choosing the right backpack for the Chadar trek is essential to ensure comfort and making it your companion instead of a burden.

Buy the appropriate size of the bag that fits your torso perfectly. Longer duration trek like the Chadar trek requires a backpack of 55 to 65 liters capacity. All your trekking gear, clothes, and other items should fit in the backpack. Don't overload the bag. Try to keep it under 10kg. The bag should be durable enough to carry a 10 kg weight for four days of frozen river trek. Don't forget to test the backpack with some weight before completing the purchase. Stuff the bag with around 10 kg weight and walk some distance to make sure the supporting frame and the shoulder straps are comfortable. The internal frame of the bag should be strong and durable. Stainless steel and aluminum frames are durable enough for the trek. Heavy snowfalls are expected during the Chadar trek, and also, trekkers sometimes drop the bag accidentally in water. So, the bag should be made of waterproof material to keep the items inside the backpack dry. Avoid bags with fancy handles and wheels, as they won't help you during the trek but will burden you. 11


During the Chadar trek, you have to walk for hours, and your body would keep generating heat which results in sweating. If you don't manage the perspiration properly, your clothes will get damp, and your body will lose heat rapidly when you stop to take a break. For that reason, mid-layer and base layer clothing should be done correctly.

Woolen Monkey Cap

A down jacket - to keep you warm in the freezing weather.

Gum Boots - to keep your feet and socks dry while walking through water. 12

A breathable waterproof Jacket Woolen Muffler / Neck warmer

A pair of insulated waterproof pants

Trekking / Hiking Shoes (No Crampons)


Thermals should be sweat absorbent to avoid dampening the clothes. Wool absorbs sweat better than cotton.

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Touchscreen gloves (with sensitive fingers) would be a better choice to avoid taking off your gloves frequently to use your phone. Pack a few pairs of socks so that you can change them if they get wet (wet clothes won't dry during the extremely cold weather.)

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Shampoo Face wash Soap Toothbrush and toothpaste Wet wipes Toilet paper. Deodorant Razor and shaving cream Chapstick or lip balm Cold cream Sunscreen lotion (SPF 40+). Towel

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You must consider keeping all the basic medication that should keep you safe from potential common medical issues. For instance, you must have remedial medicine for headaches, stomach issues, cold & fever, bandaids for skin cuts, and any other medication you think you might need for yourself.


Emergency lamp for camping nights Insulated water bottle Hot water bottle to carry in the sleeping bag while sleeping. If you feel cold much more than others, you can carry exothermic warming pads. Towel 2-3 small sizes microfiber towels with quick-drying features. Small repair kit consisting of safety pins, needle, thread, and string (very important). Plastic bags: For wet clothes and to carry waste items to dump them later in a trash bin. A waterproof case for your mobile Watch with alarm (if the mobile battery goes out of power). SIM: As of now, postpaid SIMs of BSNL, Airtel, and Jio are functional in Ladakh for roaming service. The signal for BSNL is better than Airtel and Jio. Internet speed is good in the main Leh area, but in remote areas like Zanskar, the signals would be very weak or no signal at all. We highly recommend subscribing to a BSNL post-paid SIM to use it on the Chadar trek. 16


Camping Site

Leh

Altitude -

11,500 ft

Temperature

- 5°C to -15 °C

Activity

Arrival

You should travel by air as the roads to Leh from Manali and Srinagar get blocked by the end of November. As the temperature in Leh would be extremely cold, so, before deboarding the plane at Leh airport, make sure you've put on enough warm clothes. Keep your winter jacket, woolen cap, and woolen gloves handy so that you can easily wear them before leaving the plane. Your hotel will be booked in Leh. You need to complete your check-in procedures at the hotel. After breakfast, you should rest for a few hours so that your body can acclimatize to the extreme temperature and high altitude. Since you have traveled from a lower altitude to a very high elevation of 3,500 m, hence acclimatization is very important. You can visit Leh market or nearby places in the evening. You should carry enough warm clothes with you because the months of January and February are freezing in Leh and at some point, the temperature falls below -15°C. During this time, you may also experience heavy snowfall. So, make sure you put on enough warm clothes and have enough rest to acclimatize to the high altitude and harsh weather. Keep yourself hydrated and eat healthy which helps to regulate your body temperature and acclimatize faster. 17


Camping Site Leh Altitude -

11,500 ft

Temperature - 5°C to -15 °C Activity

Acclimatization Sightseeing

While trekking, your body needs to endure extremely cold weather while maintaining high altitude differences. Since the process of acclimatization in your body takes place gradually, therefore, trekking is a challenging task in such circumstances. Your body needs to acclimatize properly and get ready for the Frozen Chadar Trek ahead. Due to lack of acclimatization, many tourists face health issues caused by Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). As a result, the administration of Leh, Ladakh issued SOPs that are mandatory to follow if you want to go for the Chadar trek. According to the SOP, you need to acclimatize for the first three nights and then go for the Chadar trek on the 4th day Meanwhile, you can visit the surrounding attractions in Leh. You can book a cab to visit a few nearby places. Since your body acclimatization is still in progress, you should not visit higher altitude places or distant locations.

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Camping Site Leh Altitude -

11,500ft

Temperature - 5°C to -15 °C Activity

Fitness Test

As per the SOP, you are supposed to undergo a medical examination to make sure you are fit enough to go for the Chadar trek. If you have followed the instructions for acclimatization, it is likely that you would be qualified to continue the Chadar trek. The permit will be issued at the tourist information center and after obtaining the permit, you need to complete the insurance formalities. However, you can’t continue the Chadar trek if you are denied the permit because of health issues(very rare chances). In case you are denied the permit, you can ask for a refund, or you can visit many other tourist places in Ladakh where you can travel in winter. You can enjoy the fantastic scenery of majestic mountains covered with snow blankets, frozen lakes, and much more. 19


Camping Site

Gyalpo

Altitude -

11,500 ft

Temperature

- 5°C to -20 °C

Activity

Sightseeing and Frozen river trek

Finally, today you are going to walk on the frozen river of Zanskar. To start the Chadar trek, you need to travel from Leh to Shingra Yokma, which is around 70km away. It will take around two hours to reach, but you can stop at a few places for sightseeing. Some of the famous attractions you will visit on the way are the Hall of fame, Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pather Sahib, Sangam- the confluence of the Indus & Zanskar river, and more. After the sightseeing, you will be head towards the starting point of the frozen river trek, Shingra Yokma. Before starting the frozen river trek, you need to put on your gumboots/trekking shoes. On the first day of the Chadar trek, you will need your trekking poles. But later on, you will find it comfortable enough to walk on the frozen river even without a stick. You will cover a distance of around 3 km, and it will take 2-3 hours to arrive at the first campsite, Tsomo Paldar. Follow your expert/guide and, you’ll learn how to judge the fragile surfaces from the stronger ones. On completing the first day of the Chadar trek, you will reach your first campsite in Tsomo Paldar. Enjoy overnight camping at Tsomo Paldar. 20


Camping Site Tibb Cave Altitude -

11,000 ft

Temperature - 15°C to -30 °C Activity

15km Frozen River Trek

You will spend the first-night camping at Tibb Cave. The next morning, you will enjoy a hot breakfast with your family or friends. Now that you are well trained and acclimatized properly yesterday, you are ready for the long trekking of about 15 km. On the way to the Tibb Cave, you will witness fascinating sceneries. The mind-blowing view of the waterfalls, the gushing river with sparkling rocks around, and the towering mountains covered in snow blankets offer an amazing view. After a pretty long trekking expedition of about 4-5 hours, you will feel starving and a hot lunch around the frozen river will be served. After having lunch, you will continue the walk until you finally arrive at the Tibb Cave. Overnight camping will be around the Tibb cave. You will find yourself surrounded by lofty mountain peaks and the Zanskar river rushing by your side.

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Camping Site Nerak Altitude -

11,000 ft

Temperature - 15°C to -30 °C Activity

Frozen river trek, Village sightseeing

From Tibb Cave, you will continue your trek towards Nerak. Nerak is the last camping site of the Chadar trek and at Nerak, you will witness the most beautiful waterfall which remains frozen during winters. You will reach Nerak campsite where you'll witness the coldest night with temperatures going as low as -30°C around Nerak village. Every year, heavy snowfall blocks the roads connecting these areas, isolating the Zanskar Valley from the rest of Ladakh. During your stay at Nerak, you can also visit the Nerak village. Visiting the village will give you a chance to catch a glimpse of the challenging life endured by the people of Zanskar during such a harsh climate. Overnight camping at Nerak. 22


Camping Site Tibb Cave Altitude -

11,000 ft

Temperature - 15°C to -30 °C Activity

Frozen River Trek

Now that you are a pro and a trained walker on frozen surfaces, you are ready to return from Nerak to Tibb Cave. After having a hot breakfast, you will start your return journey to Tibb Cave. In the afternoon, you will be served hot delicious lunch around the frozen river on the way to Tibb Cave. Keeping in mind that you have covered all the trails of the Chadar trek and endured the harsh weather at its extreme point, you cannot underestimate the trails and weather conditions. You have to be careful and cautious, as you can never predict the weather in mountainous regions. Overnight camping at Tibb Cave 23


Camping Site

Leh

Altitude -

11,500 ft

Temperature

- 5°C to -20 °C

Activity

Frozen River Trek, Return Leh

On the last day of trekking, after breakfast, you will start from Tibb cave and cover the longest distance of around 18 km trekking to reach Shingra Yokma. You have done a remarkable job completing the challenging Chadar trek. Make sure you have recorded a few parts of trekking and clicked pictures to show your friends and family. From Shingra Yokma, you will drive back to Leh. You can buy some souvenirs for your friends and family if your flight is on the next day. If your flight is a day later and you have some more days to spend in Leh, then you should rest today and visit the market the following day. In Leh, your hotel will be cozy enough to keep you warm after a few nights of enduring freezing weather. Have your dinner, celebrate your achievement, and rest for the night. 24


January and February are the best months for the Chadar trek.

The ice sheets (chadar in Hindi) creates a trail for the Chadar trek on the frozen Zanskar river. These ice sheets start forming in the month of December and get thick enough in the month of January for the trekkers to walk on. In March, the ice sheets of the trail start melting, due to which the trekkers won't be able to walk on it. So, the months of January and February are the only two months for the Chadar trek when the trekkers can walk on the frozen river of Zanskar.

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Arrive Leh first, as, Leh is the base camp of the Chadar trek for acclimatization, obtaining permits, and processing insurance documents.

The road to Ladakh remains closed at the time of the Chadar trek. So, you need to take a flight to Ladakh. The closest airport is Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh. After completing the acclimatization period in Leh and getting the permit, you can start the frozen river trek. Frozen river trek starts from Shingra Yokma. Hire a taxi from Leh to Chilling and then walk up to Shingra Yokma.

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Fitness is essential for the challenging Chadar trek, as your body should be strong enough to handle the decreased air pressure and you should have enough stamina to hike for 15 km with a 10 kg backpack. So, we have enlisted few tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming Chadar trek.

Start training your body at least a month before the trek. Pressure breathe and belly breath training for acclimatization during the Chadar trek. Increase your hiking stamina: You need to walk for around 15 kilometers daily for four days during the Chadar trek. Start walking and jogging with short distances and keep increasing the duration of the walking and jogging. You have to carry a backpack of around 10kg on the trek. So, start training with a 5kg bag and then keep increasing the weight until it reaches 10kg. You should be able to walk for 6 hours comfortably. Increase your leg strength: Exercises like calf raises, Lunges, and Squats are great to increase the strength of your leg. Also, consider increasing the incline of your treadmill. 27 27


The temperature would vary from -15°C to -30°C. And, you need to prepare for the extremely cold weather. So, we have enlisted few tips which would help you prepare for the Chadar trek.

Cold shower exposure for 10 to 15 seconds daily on the last few days before flying to Leh. Don't use warm water to bathe, from a month before the trek. Don't warm up your room, instead, try to make it colder by using AC. Avoid warm clothes at home before going on the trek. Stop using heavy blankets while sleeping for few weeks before the trek. 28


It would be difficult to endure the extremely cold weather of the Chadar trek. The temperature can drop below -30°C, so try keeping yourself as warm as possible. We have enlisted few tips which would help you keep warm during the Chadar trek.

The more the layers, the better the heat produced by your body would be captured. Also, layers would help regulate the body heat better and avoid sweating too much. Keep moving during the Chadar trek, so, that your body continuously produces heat. Walk at a slow and steady pace or your body would sweat and damp your clothes. Carry exothermic pads to keep in your socks and gloves during extremely cold weather. Wear your waterproof jacket during snowfall or wind to avoid cooling off your body rapidly. Use a rubber hot water bottle at night and keep it at the leg side of the sleeping bag. Eat snacks with high fat, protein, and calories such as chocolates, nuts. It will keep generating heat in your body to keep you warm. It would be very tempting to lie on the ice sheet or sit on it. But don’t do it, as it will conduct the heat from your body. Instead, sit on your backpack. 29


Beginners with no trekking experience can definitely go for the Chadar trek. But you should consider few things before planning for the trek.

Consult your doctor if you have any health complications. Good walking stamina is required where you can cover 5 km of distance in 45 minutes without stress. You have to carry a backpack of around 10 kg on the trekking. So, you should be strong enough to carry a 10 kg backpack hiking for 6-7 hours. We recommend not to go for the Chadar trek if you have health issues like heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, epilepsy, etc. 30


Going alone on the Chadar trek is strongly not recommended. Visit www.ladakh-tourism.net/chadar-trek/ for expert opinion or a guide for the Chadar trek. You need an expert guide and a team for the reasons mentioned below.

It requires experience and skill to identify the appropriate parts of the ice sheets to walk on. Experts know the trail and help you navigate to the destination. If you suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness, you need oxygen. Trekking operators carry oxygen for such instances. In case of emergency, the rescue team would work on your quick & safe transfer to Leh for medical attention. Trekking operators also carry all the tenting items and kitchen items which are very difficult to carry alone.

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Profile for ladakh-tourism.net

A Comprehensive Guide For Chadar Trek  

The adventurous Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar river is a dream trek for most nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. However, this trek...

A Comprehensive Guide For Chadar Trek  

The adventurous Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar river is a dream trek for most nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. However, this trek...

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