Chadar Trek: Trek on the frozen Zanskar River
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All About It
You have trekked on several occasions but the idea of Chadar trek has been snoozing in your bucket list. Do not keep that thought on hold anymore as January is fast approaching and Zanskar river will slowly begin to freeze forming a blanket of snow which is ideal for a trek that puts your endurance to test and also challenges your will power. Nestled deep within the whirly passages of the snow-clad mountains, this frozen river also entices thousand of trekkers from different corners of the world. The Chadar itself is spectacular. At times, there are patterns within patterns in the frozen ice as if caught in time. At other times, it plays an orchestra of colours. The canyon walls are so high that they rarely let the sun come through, but when it does, the sun sets up a canvas of colours and patterns of unimaginable scale. It is also one of the most challenging and tricky trail Ladakh has to offer in its winter. The river gorge is deep and most of the time barred from direct sunlight. At places the river bed is pretty wide and in places much narrower. The temperature remains below freezing throughout the day and can plummet to -20/25 Deg C in the night.The excursion includes walking on the sheet of ice during the day and camping in tents during the night. But as Babe Ruth famously quoted "You just can't beat the person who never gives up”, the success in this strenuous trek will offer you a sense of satisfaction and exhilaration that can be compared to none. Any trekker who is an ardent adventurer and ready to encounter the harshest conditions cannot afford to miss the Chadar Trek.
Meals Not Applicable
The flight to Ladakh is absolutely scenic. Arrive in Leh by 12 PM. You get a birds-eye view of the entire city and the layers of snow-clad mountains will help you understand why it is impossible to reach Ladakh by road in winters. You will feel a drop in the temperature the minute you land at the Leh airport, which is also one of the highest airports in the world. Collect your bags and check in to your assigned hotels. Today’s day is extremely important for acclimatization, so try to stay outdoors as much as possible but try not to exert yourself. Leh is quite in the winters and very few shops and eateries are open for business. Take a stroll through the colorful Leh market during the day, and if possible, try to walk till Leh Palace and Namgyal Monastery. The colorful flags fluttering in the air and the view of the entire city from Namgyal Monastery is not to be missed. Drink plenty of fluids during the day to help you with acclimatization and prepare yourself to start the trek tomorrow.
Hotel in Leh
Hotel in Leh
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The day is reserved for acclimatization. As per the new regulations by the local administration of Leh, you will have to get medically examined at SNM Hospital in Leh and today the checkup would be organized.
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Meals Not Applicable
Today, you will have to get the mandatory medical checkup at the Tourist Information Center, obtain your NOC from ALTOA and Wildlife Department permit. Overnight stay in a hotel in Leh.
Today, we finally start on our Zanskar frozen river adventure. You drive along the beautiful Indus river and get a chance to see the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river at Nimmu. We are going to cover a total distance of 70 km by road and you will experience a few jaw-dropping moments as the vehicle makes its way around the narrow hairpin bends. It should take about 3 hours to reach Bakula and as you get closer, the inspiring sight of the frozen Zanskar will get you excited about the trek. Your leaders will soon give you tips on how to walk on Chadar. It takes a while to get the hang of it. We call it the ‘Penguin Walk’. Walk around as much as possible, it will help you get comfortable walking on a glassy ice sheet. You will fall a few times, and that is part of the overall experience. You will also be taught how to get inside your double layered sleeping bags before sundown. Today is an exciting day, as it is your first day of trekking on the frozen Zanskar river. You will get plenty of sunshine during the day, so wear comfortable clothes. The best thing about Chadar trek is that you walk on a flat surface throughout the trek. There are no steep ascents or descents and very little chance of catching AMS since you don’t gain any altitude throughout the trek. If you are comfortable today, you are already acclimatized and you should be able to finish the entire trek without any major issues. Depending on the weather, the Chadar changes its forms. It can be hard and glass like in some patches, or it can have a layer of powder snow on it giving you a better grip, or you could face thin ice in certain areas, so you might have to walk in slush or dodge that entire patch and go over the rocks on the side of the river. Walk together as a team and follow the sledge route. Always follow the sledge route used by the porters as it is the safest route on Chadar. You will get to your next campsite within 3-4 hours, depending on your speed.
The biggest challenge from here on will be getting out of your warm sleeping bags and stepping outside your tent in freezing cold weather. The Zanskari people are well known for their hospitality and your staff will wake up way before you to ensure you have a hot cup of tea and a warm meal ready before you leave. Today is going to be a long walking session, you will cover a total 14 km on Chadar and it should take you about 6 to 7 hours to reach your next campsite. Make sure you fill your thermos with warm water before you leave, all liquids tend to freeze in this region given the extreme temperatures, so a thermos is extremely important. You will only get sunshine around 9-10 am, that too in patches as the giant rocky mountains on both sides of the Zanskar river tend to hide the sun. Marvel at the views as you walk in this huge valley with nothing but pure crisp air and huge rocks on both sides of you. The color of the Zanskar river flowing in the middle is vibrant and deep blue and sometimes you will see water flowing right beneath you under the thick ice sheet. You will see a few frozen waterfalls along the way. Your staff will cook you a warm meal mid-way, so fill your bellies and enjoy a hot cup of tea. By 3 pm, you’ll be at Tibb, and the last 200-meter walk is extremely gorgeous. Camp overnight Tibb.
Today is the most important day on the Chadar trek because you will get a chance to see the-mother-of-all-waterfalls ‘Nerak waterfalls’ after reaching your campsite. It is going to be another long day, so you will start early. Aim to reach Nerak campsite before 3pm, so you get plenty of time at Nerak waterfall. The sun will again be shunned from the Zanskar valley, so keep moving to keep your body warm. The ice in various patches is broken in the middle of the frozen river, forming geometrical structures of various shapes and sizes, which are fascinating to see. You will have lunch inside a cozy cave mid-way, a cave huge enough to fit 12-15 people comfortably. Reach Nerak campsite, have some snacks and make your way to the gigantic Nerak waterfall. It should take you about 30 minutes to get there, and you might see a few domestic Yaks grazing the higher grounds along the way. Right next to the waterfalls is a bridge across the river, which takes you up to Nerak village. It’s fascinating to see the old wooden bridge under the new concrete/steel bridge, giving you a chance to see the age-old constructions. Spend some time marveling at the sight of Nerak waterfall, before heading back to the campsite for your dinner. Camp overnight at Nerak.
Today, your trace your steps back to Tibb campsite. And if you think you are going to see the same frozen ice sheet again, think again. The frozen Zanskar river reacts to the slightest change in the temperatures, and constantly keeps changing its form. You will not be able to recognize the sights, it all seems so different on the way back. You might walk on a glass-like surface or patches and patches of slush, depending on the weather. Throughout the way, you will see the local porters wearing the traditional woolen robes called ‘Gonchas’, with colourful beads around their neck and their traditional hats. It’s fascinating to see the locals negotiating on the frozen river, as they seem to walk like the wind, absolutely comfortable with the slippery uneven icy surface. They will greet you using the local phrase ‘Julley’ which is the Ladakhi term for hello/welcome. You might also catch a few locals singing traditional Ladakhi songs while pulling their sledges and enjoying the journey. Penguin walk your way to tibb and enjoy the rest of the day. Camp overnight at Tibb.
Today is the last day of the Chadar trek, and we will hike to Bakula. It will take you about 7 to 8 hours to reach Bakula. From Bakula, we will drive back to Leh and that marks the end of the Chadar - The frozen river trek. Stay at hotels in Leh.
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Meals Not Applicable
We take our respective flights back home today. You will forever cherish the memories of one of the best treks in India.
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𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐉𝐎𝐘 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐑𝐀𝐕𝐄𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐆 Did you know that there is a village in Meghalaya where their inhabitants are called by tunes, not names? Or were you aware of a unique art form practiced in Kutcha, Gujarat, that isn’t practiced anywhere else on Earth? Or did you know that Bhutan’s GDP is determined by its people's Happiness? The joy of traveling is to wholly immerse yourself into the story of the place that you travel to and we at TGE Travels bring nothing less than that on the table. Our well thought out itineraries give a deeper insight into the culture and history of a place by getting our travelers closer to the local communities, their customs, cuisines and lifestyle. And it goes without saying that we are the queens of finding offbeat locations, stays and activities which we bring out in all our itineraries. TGE stands for The Great Escape and a trip with us is like pressing the “Escape” key from the mundane routine to an exciting and cherishable travel experience 𝐖𝐇𝐎 𝐀𝐑𝐄 𝐖𝐄? Established in the year 2016, TGE travels was founded by Reetu Yadav and Jamila Kapasi, two expert mountaineers who had more than 6+ years of experience in mountaineering and the outdoors. TGE Travels is infact one of the rare travel and outdoor companies wholly owned by women with a vision of adding more women leaders in the unconventional outdoor leadership roles. What started as just a trekking company, TGE Travels has evolved into a more wholesome style of traveling by adding experiential traveling as one of its primary services. Our team at TGE Travels are a bunch of travel experts who want to add a meaning to your excursions. We are a strong unit of on ground team leads, backend supports and partner vendors who work cohesively to make your trip smooth and memorable. 𝐖𝐇𝐘 𝐓𝐆𝐄 𝐓𝐑𝐀𝐕𝐄𝐋𝐒? Small Groups Even before Corona, we have firmly believed that traveling in small groups is the best way to form connections and gain experiences. Now more than ever, we are committed to limiting the group size. Our travelers might meet as strangers but we ensure that they leave as friends. Amazing Team Leads What makes TGE Travels awesome are our team leads. They are the reason why our travelers choose to travel with us again and again. Full of energy and enthusiasm, our team leads are the ones who bring the whole group together. Their energy bounces off our travelers and within no time, the entire group forgets that they were just strangers just sometime ago. But of course, our team leads are also very skilled in handling any situation and ensuring the trip goes as smoothly as possible. Well Thought Out Itineraries We have spent endless hours brainstorming on itineraries to bring out the unique stories of the place that we travel to. Not only that, while designing any itinerary our team personally travels to the location to identify experiences and off beat locations. We try to provide the best experience within the timeframe and budget and that has made us popular as one of the more thought driven travel itinerary planners. Choosing the Right Stays We select our accommodation partners meaningfully. Our stays should have a story to tell. This encourages us in going beyond the standard hotels and instead delving into a wide range of accommodation options where we can choose from authentic homestays, which to us is one of the best ways to learn about the culture of a place, to beautiful resorts that are situated at the perfect picturesque locations to boutique hotels that are elegant and charming. Safe Mode of Transport Just like our accommodation partners, we give a lot of importance in choosing the right transport partners. Most of our journey is on road and we ensure our travelers are comfortable in the vehicle. Our drivers become a part of the group and it's amazing to see how our travelers treat them as just one of their own. When it comes to bike trips or Scooty trips, we ensure the two wheelers are well serviced and maintained. Apart from that we always have a support vehicle with us throughout the journey Delicious Food Food is an integral part of our itineraries. Hence all meals are planned in advance allowing our travelers to taste the unique cuisines of the regions that they travel to. We encourage our travelers in trying out local delicacies but never hesitate to deliver something comfortable immediately if the local food does not suit their palette. Responsible Travel We firmly believe in responsible tourism. Apart from the standard no littering policy, we encourage our travellers to be sensitive to the local communities.
It's always a pleasure travelling with TGE! The one thing I love most is their attention to detail, which ensures that your trip is a memorable one. Travelling with TGE is a wholesome experience, you see the larger more iconic places with no compromise on the little things. Travel with them if you want to interact with the people of the place, eat their food, in short experience their lives. These guys do a superb job of making everyone comfortable and everytime I travel with them I make beautiful bonds with all the other travellers. I would 100% recommend TGE to everyone who has the travel bug. It doesn't get better than this! ☺️❤️
I have known Reetu and Jamila for many years and have worked with them in the past. But this was the first time I decided to travel with them as a participant. When Reetu told me about exploring Spiti in winters I was completely on board. The itinerary sounded exciting and the pricing less. S my friend Manish and I immediately signed up for it. One of the best decisions I ever took. Spiti in winters in beautiful. The 7 days with the team was wonderful. We spent our days driving around the valley and our evenings dancing to pahadi songs. The planning was perfect with utmost care given in the choice of stay and comfort. Of course the highlight of the trip was spotting a snow leopard. Overall it was an amazing trip and I am looking forward to join many more with The Great Escape
Shravan Kumar Poshetty
Should I describe with “perfect planning” / “meticulous coordination”/ “cordial organiser”...might be with all of it.
Flawless execution is what makes them unique and organiser Reetu Yadav has let all of us experience it with her executional capabilities...
Clarity n flow of communication:-5/5
Comfort in Mode of Travel:-5/5
Action in Emergency:- very swift 5/5
Team has proved that its not all about the commercial trip but also the cause which is concealed in their carryings. What we pay at Flemingo Resort at Dholavira goes to educate and for taking care of more than 400 students and their boarding facilities as well.
Its not over yet, you will be pleased to meet the gifted souls from remote villages who are manifested in their respective disciplines like Rogan Art (Hon’le prime minister himself have gifted one to Barack Obama), Wood Art and Bell Art, Textile etc.
You will get to eat the delicious food made out of love from the local (A1 class food).
Off all, well planned itinerary and the execution is commendable. We RoK team who departed on 12th Dec’19 are truly happy with the onsite organiser Reetu Yadav and the offline backbone Jamila Kapasi who took good care of each of us at every stretch.
Their intact affirmative relation and proper delicacy in their execution makes then unique.
My best friend is much impressed with their proceedings and that makes me much happier than ever.
Last but not least, am fortunate to have rest 13 of the participants as part of my extended family. Again the credit goes to TGE.
Kudos to the team and i look for further association with “THE GREAT ESCAPE” ( you have already give our team a great escape from the routine.
Way to go TGE team!!!
Kumar Tarur Parameswaran
Such great detailed planning at micro level and being open and upfront about the tour details impressed me at the very start. They lived up to their promise in every which way.
TGE’s expression of their solidarity towards the cause of the villagers by getting travellers to interact with them in a lively way and help the villagers in their livelihood was one of the primary reasons I chose to travel with TGE.
TGE means immersive experiential travel and what you get in return and come away with are unforgettable lifetime memories.
Looking forward to many more tours with TGE. Reetu and Jamila pull your collars up. Way to go! You will go miles!
The great escape recently took care of my 10 days family trip to Bhutan. We were 9 of us, including 2 kids and 2 elderlies. Each detail of the trip was so beautifully planned and coordinated. Jamila was personally in touch with drivers, hotels and homestay owners to ensure we ar getting the best of experience. We never even had to look for directions, call hotel or tell driver about anything. Everything was already taken care of and we were just the guests in very true sense. Such a wonderful trip it was. Everything was so beautiful including all the places where we stayed.
Much thanks to Jamila and the great escape team to make it work like magic for us!
- 4 Night accommodation in Leh in an A class hotel with central heating and hot shower. - Camping during the trek - Meals while on trek (Veg.+ Egg) - Trek equipments: Sleeping bag, mattress, tent (twin / triple sharing), kitchen & dinning tent, toilet tent, utensils - Necessary permits and entry fees - First aid medical kits, & oxygen cylinder - Mountaineering qualified & professional trek guide, cook and Support staff - Transport from Leh hotel to Tilad do and return as per the itinerary
- ALTOA fees and insurance (INR 5000/- per peson) - Any kind of personal expenses. - Airfare - Food in Leh - Any kind of emergency evacuation charges - Pickup and drop from airport - Wildlife/environmental charges - Porter to carry personal luggage - Insurance - Anything not specifically mentioned under the head
Policy and Terms
20 days before the event start date: No Refund 20- 45 days before the event start date: 50% Refund Before 45 days of the event start date: 75% Refund