chadar-trek-on-Frozen-River-Trek

This post was last updated on September 16th, 2021

There might be a lot of different treks in the world – but the Chadar Trek of Ladakh is one of a kind. It is a wonderful winter trek that injects jitters into the body of the traveler.

So, are you looking for a complete guide on how to plan for Chadar Trek? You are at the right place because we have a lot of key factors and points to keep in mind that we have included in our meticulously designed guide for you. 

Being one of the most adventurous winter treks in the world– Chadar Trek has gained a lot of traction in the past 6-7 years. As much as travelers love visiting Ladakh for a bike trip they have been coming here for this adventurous trek as well.

It is enjoyed in the Zanskar Region of Ladakh and on the frozen river that goes by the same name. It is not just blissful but spine-chilling as well because this trek unlike any other in India offers a chance to walk on the flowing river with its initial few layers frozen.

Everything You Must Know Before Heading for Chardar Trek

Insight about the Chadar Trek

chadar-trek-on-Frozen-River-Trek

Have you ever wondered how it feels to walk on a frozen river in Ladakh? No, it’s not a joke or a made-up scene from Hollywood or Bollywood. One of the best treks of the world is enjoyed by hundreds of travelers each year in the Zanskar Valley of Ladakh. With a backdrop painted by the natural colors, Chadar Trek or the frozen river trek is another challenging adventure activity offered by Ladakh during winters. 

The strenuous trail of Chadar treks on the frozen river has been designated by avid travelers as the arduous trek offered by any city in India. Throughout the trip all the trekkers who are roped together walk on the river through the valley, caves, and craggy rocks. Although the temperature of the Chadar trek dips below minus 10-degrees Celsius, it has never kept the adventure junkie away from this trek of Ladakh. 

Although there are a lot of different treks in India, this one has no match at all. Be it the backdrop, adventure grade, or any other parameter you rate it on. Chadar Trek of Ladakh has no match yet. So, is it still intriguing for you? Want to know more about the things you need to keep for the frozen river trek? Just keep reading for more!

Highlights of the Chadar Trek

  • You get a chance to trek along the ancient winter trading route. This trail also connects Ladakh with Padum and the frozen Zanskar River acts as the perfect path to walk on.
  • As adventurous as it might sound, you can visit here with your partner, friends, or alone. But before planning on your trip to Ladakh during winters, ensure the condition of the river. (Global warming is changing a lot of things around the world.)
  • Enjoy the insights, rituals, and culture of Zanskar better. You also get a chance to stay with the Zanskaris and eat their local delicacies. 
  • Before heading to any destination or attraction in Ladakh, do ensure that your body is acclimatized to the oxygen drop and gain in altitude. The reason behind this is, Ladakh is only accessible through airways during winters due to heavy snowfall all over the route. So, when you land at Leh, make sure your body gets used to the environment. It is very important.
  • Get a chance to spot several Ladakhi animals like Thar, Snow Leopard, sheep, ibex, and others.
  • The spine-chilling feeling when you get to know there is still flowing water under the upper layers of the river.

What is the best time for Chadar Trek or frozen river trek?

The best time for the frozen river trek is between mid-December and Mid-February. This is the time when the upper layers of the Zanskar River freeze due to the dip in temperature. The temperature in Ladakh during these months remains between -5 degrees Celsius to -35 degrees Celsius.

Due to such low temperature, the river looks like a sheet of ice and hence gets its name as Chadar. 

The route you need to follow to reach the frozen river of Ladakh?

One of the biggest and probably important questions that come to mind is the route to Zanskar River that should be followed. Then you may also wonder, “Are there any closed roads during this time?” So let’s clear the bubble around these problems. 

So, to start with- the entire Ladakh circuit remains open for tourists even during winters. If you wish to visit Ladakh during winters you will have to take a plane to Leh Airport and then carry on with your journey. 

Note: You can simply hire a cab or rent a bike in Ladakh to reach your destination (from where the trek starts).

Here is the route that you will have to follow to reach the Zanskar Valley.

Route: Leh – Chilling- Zaribago – Deepyokma- Nyarakpulu – Lingshed- Lingshed – Nyarakpulu- Tso Mopoaldar – Tilatdo- Chilling – Leh

Note: This is the entire route map that can be followed by travelers to enjoy the entire journey. To and from the Zanskar River. 

You can keep the trip as short as 8 days to get a hang of it completely. It is a wonderful and one-of-a-kind feeling to trek the frozen river of Ladakh. The trekkers have to walk for approximately 90 km for over 8-9 days.

Who can trek the frozen river of Zanskar?

Designated as one of the most difficult treks of India Chadar Trek has got that name for a reason. From harsh climate to the difficult trail- as adventurous as it may sound; Chadar Trek is not for light-hearted people. The temperature at Zanskar Valley can fall as low as -35°C, which is good for the trekkers but not everyone.

Those who have either trekked some moderate or difficult trails can walk on this icy sheet on the Zanskar River.

How to prepare for the Trek?

How to plan a trip for Chadar Trek is only complete when you know how to prepare for the entire journey. The first thing that highly matters is your mental strength. You have to train your mind and body for the challenges that the trek has on offer. 

Zanskar Chadar Trek is not going to be easy at any point in time and that’s what makes it a memorable and a must-do thing in Ladakh for avid adventurers. You have to keep exercising and preparing your mind for this trip. Also, you will have to ensure about the river condition and the weather updates regularly. If you are not a gym person, it is advised to start training your mind and body with these exercises at least.

  • Stairs Climbing
  • Push-ups
  • Cycling
  • Squats
  • Cross-crunches
  • Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Brisk walking/ Running

What all things should be included in the checklist for Chadar Trek?

Apart from every other thing, preparing a checklist is of utmost importance. You need to keep all the useful items in your backpack before leaving. Keep in mind that it takes close to 8 days to complete the entire trek. Your Chadar Trek checklist should include all the below-listed items.

  • Trekking boots with spikes
  • Water bottles
  • A hiking jacket (Fleece jacket) to keep you warm
  • Lip balm and sunscreen
  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • A first aid box
  • Medicines of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
  • Chocolate bars
  • Enough layers of warm clothes
  • A warm cap
  • Goggles with UV protection (Polaroids)
  • Light Snacks
  • Garbage bags
  • Warm gloves

Keeping in mind the harshness of nature in Zanskar Valley during that time and the grade of the trek, all of the above-listed items are important for the frozen river trek of India. 

A Complete Guide What to Pack for Chadar Trek: Universal Packing List for Frozen River Trek

What are the Do’s of the Chadar Trek?

If you have planned on doing the Chadar Trek, here are a few things that you will have to stick to. It will help in offering utmost enjoyment and make this winter trek in Ladakh, wonderful for you. 

  • Usually, there is always an experienced trekker who is called the alpha. This person becomes the trek leader and you should always follow them. They have good knowledge about the entire trek and they are also equipped with technical knowledge that works wonders for other trekkers. 
  • Make sure that your loved ones and family members are informed about the itinerary in advance. It will always be good if you have some companions on this trek. If you choose to travel alone, make some friends during the trip so that you are not left out. 
  • It is important for you to take nutritious food most of the time so that your body is able to produce the needed warmth during the Chadar Trek. 
  • Make sure to keep your body hydrated throughout the trip because it is of utmost importance. 
  • Firstly it is advised to wear a fleece jacket and lower, and water-resistant shoes. If in case, your clothes are wet, get to someplace and change them as soon as possible. 
  • Do not depend on others for help, keep your first aid kit readily available before starting your wonderful winter trek.
  • Last but not the least, there is nothing to worry about on the sheet of ice. The alpha will let you know if there is thin ice anywhere. So, just enjoy the entire trip and click pictures for memories. 

Also Read: Things to Carry for Your Ladakh Winter Trip

What are the Don’ts of the Chardar Trek?

Yes, there are some don’ts as well; and make sure you follow them religiously throughout your Chadar Trek.

  • Leave only your footprints in the valley and not your food packets. Be a responsible traveler and keep all the food packets in your bag. Do not litter at all.
  • You should strictly refrain from venturing alone or without informing others. 
  • You need your body in the best working condition so whatsoever be the reason, do not skip your meals or stop sipping water every now and then. Both these things are important throughout the Chadar trek
  • Never every panic in any situation. If you think your body cannot take it anymore, just rest for some time and then start to move. But keep your body comforted and don’t push it too much.
  • Do not eat too much while on the trek.

Accommodation Arrangements for the Travelers

Another very important piece of information for the traveler planning the frozen river trek in Ladakh is about the accommodation arrangements that they will get throughout the Chadar trek. This is important because firstly, the temperature is going to be brutal throughout, and secondly, the entire trek is close to 90 km through valleys, caves, on the river, and much more.

So, this makes it important for travelers to know about the accommodations options in Zanskar Valley during the Chadar trek.

  • When you will reach Leh which will also be your first destination in Ladakh; you will find a lot of options starting from homestays to hotels.
  • But from there onwards when you reach the trek start point till the terminal, you will get tented accommodations in Zanskar Valley.
  • There are several camp colonies and campsites throughout the stretch.

Conclusion

If you are one of those adventure lovers who ensure nothing uncommon is left out, then your to-do list might have the frozen river trek for sure. It is not just one of the best winter treks in India but also an enjoyable to-do activity. While you plan on the trip, the above-listed things should be kept in mind.

We hope, this extensive guide of the wonderful winter trek- Chadar, helps you in keeping all the important things in mind.