Chadar trek: A complete Guide


Chadar trek is a trek that takes place over the frozen Zanskar river in the Ladakh region of India. It is considered to be one of the most thrilling and adventurous experiences. The trek is done during the winters when the river changes into a thick ice sheet. The frozen blanket over the river or chadar is the only one of transportation for the locals of Zanskar during the winter months when the roads are all shut down and covered with snow. The chadar trek or the Zanskar river is nestled with mountains enveloped by snow on one side and a stream on the other side. It takes around 6 days to complete the whole trek across the frozen Zanskar river. The Zanskar river is at an altitude of 11150ft where during the night time in winters the temperature drops to even -30 degrees celsius. 

Best time to visit 

The best time to visit the Chadar trek is during the winter months preferably from January to February, as during these months the ice sheet is relatively intact and the weather conditions are not that extreme. 

How to reach 

One has to reach Leh either via flight or road. Then from Leh to Shingra Koma which is at a distance of 70km from Leh then trek to Tsomo Paldar(3km) which is at an altitude of 11400ft by walking on the frozen Zanskar river. Then to Tibb cave which is a trek journey of 15km then finally to Nerak which takes about 7 hours to complete the 13km which is the last part of the Chadar trek. 

Things to carry 

These are some of the essentials which must be carried before embarking on your journey of Chadar trek, as the weather conditions are very harsh and cold, one must be careful to take all precautions to avoid any kind of consequences. 

  • backpack and raincoat
  • walking stick 
  • torch with extra batteries 
  • energy bar/dry fruits to keep warm and energized 
  • hot water bottle
  • medical kit with medicines to cure acute mountain sickness, breathlessness, etc.
  • thermal inners/windcheater/trek pants
  • sunscreen cream, sunglasses
  • disposal bag and toiletries 
  • trekking shoes(snow and waterproof)
  • waterproof gloves, and sports and woolen socks 

Level of difficulty 

Though the trek is very exciting and adventurous this trekking is not without dangers. There are chances that the ice might crack. The trek over the sheet of ice crossing over the river banks is one of the most difficult parts of the trek. And it is a known fact that the weather conditions in mountains change rapidly which are always unpredictable. Since this trek is at a high altitude, the trek requires a strong lung and endurance to complete the trek. The extremely cold temperature and the acute mountain sickness due to high altitude makes Chadar trek difficult to trek.   

Reasons to do chadar trek 

Chadar trek is like a dream trek for trekkers which offers an awe-inspiring beauty of the trek amidst the Himalayan region. It offers a surreal experience to the trekkers as it offers a perfect balance of nature and spirituality. The walk on the frozen side of the river during the daytime makes the river shimmer under the sun which is a treat to the eyes. There are many frozen waterfalls along the trek which are just astonishing to look at as it feels like a crystal frozen over time and is still in space. One can also experience the culture of the local people. But the best part would be camping under the night sky full of stars amidst the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayan region.  

Places to visit 

There are few places that one can visit near chadar trek in the Zanskar region

  • Zanskar valley 
  • Pensi la pass – which separates the Zanskar valley from Suru village located at an altitude of 4400m. One can find various rich and exotic medicinal plants. The pass is bound by glaciers on both sides. 
  • Padum – this town situated at an altitude of 3669m is home to the ancient Buddhist master, Padmasambhava who was known as the second Buddha  

About the locals 

The locals of the Zanskar region are known as Zanskaris follow the Buddhist culture and very few follow Sunni Muslims and are very polite and friendly. They are very cooperative and helpful in nature. There is zero crime rate. Their economy revolves around the livestock and tourism sector. 

Some facts about Chadar trek 

  • The valley of Zanskar is an isolated place from the rest of Ladakh
  • During the winters the temperature drops to -30 degrees celsius 
  • The entire trek distance is 105 km
  • During the trek, some of the campsites are situated in caves

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