I am an avid trekker and have had the chance to Trek India on several occassions, including some really difficult ones too. I have been to Ladakh on quite a few occasions, and on my last trip, I had taken the Stok Kangri trek. Stok Kangri trek was a surreal experience and it left me in love with the place. But I had always longed to go on Chadar trek, one of the toughest treks in Ladakh. (For those who don’t know Chadar, in Hindi, means blanket and hence Chadar Trek means trekking on a blanket of frozen river.)
Finally, I got an opportunity and I wasn’t going to miss it. With a few fellow trekkers, I headed to Ladakh in mid-January to experience Chadar first hand.
It has been almost six months since I went on Chadar expedition in Ladakh, but I still can’t get it out of my head. The experience was simply stunning. Chadar Trek takes you through the remote Zanskar Valley, over the frozen Zanskar River.
In winters, most of the mountain passes of Ladakh get blocked due to heavy snowfall. A walk on the frozen Zanskar River is the only route possible for locals to make contact with the outside world. The route has been used even since Tibetans first settled in Ladakh almost 1000 years ago.
Most of the trek happens on the frozen Zanskar River only. We had a 14 day itinerary of the trek, which involved 4 days of getting acclimatized to the weather conditions and the lack of oxygen. It is very important that you get acclimatized before embarking on this difficult trek. It is one of the toughest treks in Ladakh, and there are quite a few dangers you have to encounter on your way through the valley.
On most of the days of the trek, we travelled on the frozen Zanskar River only. But we were lucky we did not have to use our ice climbing gear at all, since the sheet of ice was pretty thick even at that time of the year.
The highlight of my experience for me watching the locals, they made their way through the river with considerable ease. Watching them traverse the difficult path nonchalantly is something I can never forget.
On this 14 day India trek, we made our way through several stunning locations, some of which left me completely spellbound.
As a traveler who has had firsthand experience of Chadar trek, I would advise you to take the trek as soon as it opens, which happens around January 15. Chadar expedition opens from January 15 to the end of February. In January, temperatures are really low, which means Zanskar River remains completely frozen. There are no water holes or thin sheets of ice anywhere. That makes the trek a whole lot easier.
Apart from that, do not forget to book a transporter for your Chadar expedition. You have to carry a lot of luggage around on this long expedition, which can take a lot out of you. It is better that you take a transporter with you.
As for the price, it can be anywhere upwards of INR 50,000. It really depends on the tour operator you are booking your trek from.
Divij is an adventurer, a budding photographer and a writer. He has been to various trekking trails and to many offbeat destinations in India. His passion is to explore all the offbeat destinations in India. Currently, he writes articles on travel for www.Thrillophilia.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter