The Chadar Trek – Beautiful, Unforgettable and Deadly

The Chadar Trek – Beautiful, Unforgettable and Deadly

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If you’re thinking about hiking the Chadar Trek and tackling the frozen Zanskar River sometime in the future, it’s important to understand that the journey will be unlike anything you have experienced before – even if you’re an experienced trekker. Before you set too many plans in stone, make sure you read through our in-depth exploration of the trek and tips to make it as successful as possible.

So, what does the trek actually entail?
During the winter, the Zanskar River actually freezes over and becomes solid enough to walk on. That’s right – when hiking the Chadar Trek, you’re actually spending days walking across the frozen sheet of ice at temperatures of between -15 and -20 degrees Celsius. Your nights will be spent camping along the river’s edge or in caves, experiencing temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius.

What sorts of difficulties might you encounter?
As we mention above, the Chadar Trek is bitterly cold. The biggest difficulty that you will face on this trek would have to be getting accustomed to the harsh climate conditions at altitudes of around 13,000 feet above sea level. Trekkers may also develop exhaustion on the long and strenuous journey;therefore, you need to ensure that your stamina and ability level is exceptional before embarking.

What should I do before leaving or whilst on the Chadar Trek?
• Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member;
• Ensure that you have plenty of warm clothes with you, as the temperature can plunge unexpectedly;
• Ensure that you have sufficient snacks and water with you, as these things are scarce along the route; and
• Don’t forget to bring a first-aid kit, as bruises and cuts are common.

What should I leave at home or avoid whilst on the trek?
• Don’t litter – it is the responsibility of every trekker to maintain the radiance of the route;
• Don’t use soaps and shampoos in waterfalls, as it contaminates them (and locals use this water for drinking);
• Respect the serenity of any shrines that you encounter;
• Never ignore the instructions provided by your guide;
• Don’t skip any meals, as you need to keep your energy levels up; and
• Don’t ignore the weather report.

What are the major destinations?
There are a number of regions that the Chadar Trek may pass through, including: TilatSumdo (a campsite with stunning views of the Himalayan range), Nerak (a base camp for the trek with amazing sunset views), Lingshed (one of the oldest villages in Ladakh), Gyalpo (another campsite flanked by peaks and walls of rock faces) and Dibyokma (another campsite with mountain views).

When is the best time to go?
As the water needs to be completely frozen over, the route is actually only open for a small portion of the year. The winter months of January and February are the best time for trekking adventures on the Zanskar river (mid-January to mid-February is typically when most groups will go). Your guide will be able to advise the best time for you to travel based on current weather reports.

We hope that you’re still interested in the frozen Chadar Trek after getting through all of the tips and information we’ve provided above. Though freezing cold and incredibly difficult,it truly is a once in a lifetime experience that you should take if you have the chance to – the stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges, the exotic wildlife you will spot and the people you will meet far out way the dangers of the trek itself. Its beauty like you’ve never seen before.


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