Hiking - Destination

Chadar Trek: A Quick Guide for Beginners

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Every trekker has a personal comfort level. Some might like the easy ones while others might look forward to the more adventure-filled ones. If you belong to the latter group, look no further than the Chadar trek in Ladakh. Treks in Ladakh can be quite intimidating and dangerous, especially during the winter months when the steep mountain slopes and passes are all blocked with snow. During this time, Chadar Trek is the only route which connects the remote villages in Zanskar Valley with Chilling town, along the Zanskar river.

In winter, large sections of the river are covered with sheets of ice making it appear like a white blanket and hence the name “Chadar” meaning blanket in the local language.

The Ice-Sheet Chadar Trek

Chadar Trek: The Frozen River Trek in Ladakh

Chadar Trek is a difficult one, preferred by proficient trekkers with a high level of experience. The trek is about 75km long .

The prospect of coming across extreme temperatures that go as low as -30 to -40 degrees Celsius .

The scary yet exciting experience of walking on a frozen river with ice-cold water rushing below and breath-taking surroundings of snow-capped mountain peaks, sets this trek apart from all other treks. While trekking, many people get blisters which can be a nightmare.

Learn about How to avoid Blisters while Trekking

Despite being a challenging trek, keeping a few things in mind can make this trek safe and enjoyable.

When to go there

The season for Chadar trek is from January to March , though the region is in a better condition between mid-January and mid-February. The best time to go there is in February when the ice on the river is more stable. This makes the trek through the river less risky.

However, there are various zones which get thin ice and you have to climb to the shores to continue the trek.

How to Reach

As the region is covered with snow during the winter months, the only way to reach Leh during this time is by air. Daily flights to Leh from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar are available.

Chadar Trek: The Frozen River Trek in Ladakh

From there, you can travel by road through Zanskar and reach Chilling which is about 64 km from Leh . The end of Chilling road is the starting point of Chadar Trek.

The end of the Chilling road is the starting point of Chadar Trek.

What to Carry for the Chadar Trek

As you will be traveling in adverse weather conditions, you need to carry quite a number of things to make your trek more comfortable.

Chadar Trek: The Frozen River Trek in Ladakh

Trekking Gear

A backpack and a day pack to carry all your belongings in a compact yet comfortable manner is a must. You will need layers of warm clothes including trek pants, full-sleeve T-shirts, jackets, ponchos, waterproof woollen gloves and socks, woollen cap and thermal inner wear to protect yourself from the cold weather.

Packing clothes which will dry up quickly is recommended. At the same time, do not carry more clothes than what is required as it would add to your baggage weight.

As the trail will be slippery, it is extremely important to carry trekking shoes instead of sports shoes .

Learn about how to pick the correct Trekking shoes . Gumboots are also recommended as you might come across knee-deep icy-cold water and these would help to keep your feet safe and secure. An extra pair of socks would be useful in case they catch moisture inside the gumboots.

Waterproof jacket or windcheater to save yourself from getting drenched. A rain cover for your backpack is a good idea. A sleeping bag with a temperature rating of -25 degrees Celsius or less is required. You can include a sleeping bag liner and warming pad for additional warmth and comfort.

Basic Essentials

Sunglasses, sunscreen and a sun cap to prevent you from harmful UV rays of the sun. A headlamp or LED Torch and a walking stick will be useful while crossing paths with little or no light. Regular toiletries and personal medical kit for your well-being.

A light snack for the road will help you maintain energy levels. A thermos flask for carrying hot water as water in normal bottles freezes in the extreme temperature.

Also, make sure to know How to avoid common hiking mistakes.

Top Attractions for Chadar Trek

The most captivating aspect of this trek is walking on the frozen Zanskar river. The thick sheet of ice formed on the river makes it difficult to assess the thickness, a slip or fall can prove to be fatal as the water is deep and you could be swept under the ice in no time. The frozen waterfalls on the way leave you gasping in awe!

The chance to spend the night camping in the caves enjoying the splendid star-filled night sky, bonfires and the scenic views of the valleys en route, make the 75 km trek worth the effort.

Chadar Trek: The Frozen River Trek in Ladakh

The experience of trekking the Chadar and Zanskar region is spine-chilling yet mesmerizing. But, with a few safety tips you will definitely have a great time. So, gear up and get ready for one-of-a-kind experience as you traverse through the dangers and thrills of nature’s wonders.

If you have been to the Chadar trek and have any stories to share, please feel free to add.

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