The Chadar trek in Ladakh is one of the 5 treks in Leh Ladakh. This trek covers a distance of approximately 105 km through the Zanskar river, which freezes during the winter. The frozen river becomes an ice sheet, and is hence, referred to as Chadar in the local language.
During the trek, temperatures can range between -5° to -25° C. Snowfall is also a possibility during your journey.
It is highly advised for first-time travellers to consider all the situations they can come across and prepare accordingly.
- High-altitude travelling has seen a 42% growth in popularity between 2015 and 2018 (Thrillophilia).
What is the estimated cost of the trek?
- Tour package
You have to book a tour package with a trekking company, which will provide guides and porters to aid you through the trail. Usually, such packages can range between Rs.16,000 to Rs.20,000 or even more.
You will need equipment like –
- Trek pants,
- Fur cap or equivalent,
- Backpack (also include a cover),
- Fleece jackets,
- Trekking pole,
- Headlamp, etc.
The estimated cost of all these items can be above Rs.12,000 depending on the quality and make.
- Travel insurance
It is advised to travellers to avail a travel insurance policy before setting out. Spending a minimal amount on the same can help stay financially covered against all mishaps.
Pocket Insurance & Subscriptions like the Trek Cover offered by Bajaj Finserv is one such plan you can avail. You can buy trek cover for financial coverage of emergency hotel and travel needs of up to Rs.1 lakh, single-call card-blocking service in case you misplace your credit-debit card/s on-trip, and complementary insurance of up to Rs.1.5 lakh.
How to reach Leh?
The trek begins from Leh; the easiest and most convenient mode of reaching Leh is through air travel. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh is a domestic airport connected with Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh, and Delhi. A majority of travellers prefer to reach Leh from Delhi. A flight ticket will cost around Rs.3,000.
Road and rail travel and also available options; however, it can take several days to reach Leh when opting for these modes.
Here is a day-wise itinerary along with necessary info for a complete Chadar trek in Ladakh –
After arriving at Leh, you will have 3 days to acclimatise to the weather. Acclimatisation is necessary to adapt to the new temperatures, altitude, pH, humidity, etc.
Leh, even though being a small town, has a lot to offer, which you can enjoy during these days. For example, the Shanti Stupa is one of the popular tourist attractions in Leh. It sits at an altitude of 3,600 m, and you have to climb 500 steps to reach the stupa to an awe-inspiring experience.
- Close to 4 lakh tourists (including around 50,000 foreigners) visited Leh during 2018.
Day 2 and 3
The next day, you have to visit the local office for health check-up operated by the Ladakh Tour Operators Association. The officials will check your blood pressure and oximeter, depending on which they will determine whether you are fit for the Chadar trek. They will also provide a medical and rescue card necessary in case of emergencies.
It should be noted here that trekkers are provided with an adventure sports cover from this office when travelling to Chadar. However, you can also opt for a more comprehensive policy.
For instance, you can consider the Winter Trek Cover offered by Bajaj Finserv can be beneficial for such trips. It offers a cumulative insurance coverage of Rs.2.5 lakh as well as numerous other additional assistances.
On day 4, you set out for the trek. It takes about 3 hours by car to reach the Zanskar river from Leh. After reaching, your tour guide will brief you of the precautions to take, how to walk on ice, and other necessities.
You will need gumboots to cross small patches of water. One of the most important Chadar trek tips is to take small steps whenever the terrain is mixed with ice, slate, and water.
The first camp that you reach is Shingra Koma. Here, you will undergo another medical check-up of your blood pressure and oxygen content. Trekkers have to spend the first night at this camp.
On the next day, you will trek to reach the next camp – Tibb. Tibb is a cave and the campsite is placed around it. The cave is usually used by the locals and porters to cook for the trekkers.
You may face Chadar trek difficulty during this trail. For example, frozen areas over the river may not be safe to walk at times. In such cases, you may have to hike through the rocky sides.
After spending the night at Tibb, you will trek to the next camp – Nerak. The distance between Tibb and Nerak is around 11 km.
The Nerak Waterfall is one of the spectacular scenes you will come across during the course of Chadar trek in Ladakh. The frozen waterfall is a popular attraction and a favourable photography spot.
You will reach the next campsite – Nerak village – after trekking for around 20 to 30 minutes from the waterfall. This will be the last campsite, after which, you will head back to Leh.
The Chadar trek is one of the most demanding treks but it is also incomparably stunning. Make sure to carry all necessary equipment and refer only to registered guides and organisations for the trek. Also, it is advisable to have a comprehensive trekking travel insurance policy such as the Domestic Travel Insurance offered by Bajaj Finserv beforehand. Stay financially protected against any mishap for a memorable trek.