Along the frozen and semi frozen river surface, this changes from hour to hour. It climbs high at times above broken ice, and at times you have no choice, you have to get wet feet. But we avoid this if possible! At times it seems impossible and you will not believe what the human body can do, or how thin a ledge of ice will support you. You will watch the porters do the impossible. And then you follow them. This trek takes the main Chadar route, then, once in Zanskar or Up to Lingshed villages ( Monastery ).
Gear and the cold
It does get very cold on the Chadar, but does not seem to be. Why? Because it is hard work, with very few moments to relax; you really do have to keep moving. Also, the complete absence of any wind to chill you, and the excellent gear you are wearing keeps you well insulated. Day temperatures average minus 10ºC and at night it drops to minus 25ºC. The only time you really feel it is packing up in the morning.
Discussing gear is definitely part of the preparation, and your gear needs to be good. See the special Chadar gear list on the side bar.
Note that the trekking itinerary and campsites may vary slightly depending on trail and weather conditions and the various trekkers’ acclimatization rate.
Day 01 :- Fly to Leh 3500m
We leave at 4am to join our morning flight to Leh, which in winter is rarely delayed. After an hour long spectacular flight over the Himalayas, we land in the past, Tashi Namgyal’s 15th century capital, Leh. The cold air will catch at your throat and you will definitely feel the altitude. We stay at the comfortable Omasila hotel near the main bazaar, which has heated rooms. After noon our guide will take you to a little piece of central Asian history, with its palace dominating the old bazaar and a backdrop of snowy peaks.
Day 02 :- Leh 3500m
We have two days to explore the bazaars and alleyways of historic Leh, and the striking Indus valley with its snowy backdrop that surrounds it, visiting some of the most ancient forts and gompas of the Tibetan Buddhist world. A little bit of old Tibet. /hanging around leh town for acclimatise
Day 03 :- Drive to Chilling and trek to Tilad sumdo camp 3100m
Mornings in Leh in any season are special, with the harsh high Himalayan light softened by the dust in the air. In winter, the call to prayer from the mosque wakes you gently. Breakfast in the omasila is a last touch of civilization. By eight we will be on the move, driving through the suburbs of Leh, then along the Indus valley. The road climbs slowly past Spitok Monastery,.
We drive on, descending to the Indus again to its confluence with the Zanskar. A dirt road from here takes us to Chilling, as far as the jeep can go. Here we have a simple lunch, then it is on the ice. It takes an hour or so to get into a comfortable rhythm, and we have found that using crampons tends to be more of a hindrance, as they are not suitable for all ice conditions. As the gear list says, good trekking poles are essential. Again, as on the gear list, you must have boots with good, new soles that ‘stick’. Luckily there are rarely any ice puzzles on this first day, except at the camp, where you ascend a frozen stream. The camp is on a sandy plateau to one side of the Zanskar, where on this first day our tents will have been erected for us. We will introduce you to camp routines and our warm and cozy dining tent, followed by dinner, soup and a good, varied vegetarian meal. Evenings in the dining tent, which is big enough to stretch your legs but
small enough to be easily warmed, are very comfortable. Before bed, as as part of the daily routine, we fill your bottles with boiling water. Great to toast your toes, and drinkable in the morning.
Day 04 :- Trek to Gyalpo cave camp 3170m
Breakfast is as much hot coffee or tea as you can drink, eggs to order (fresh while they last, then powdered the fresh baked bread, jam and honey. Departure time is normally around nine, and the days soon assume a familiar pattern. Our Guide go ahead with the trekkers, followed by our porter team. It is essential always to stay with our guides. This is the only trek in the world where the trail, literally, vanishes, beneath your feet..
We lunch on pilaf, or Zanskari Kiu (dumpling stew) bread, cheese, jam, biscuits. Some days we can only have hot tea and an uncooked lunch. The ice conditions change quickly and what takes an hour at noon can take three hours by 3pm. We do not rush; but we do not dawdle! If you hear Zanskaris calling down the valley, particularly at the corners, don’t worry; they are screaming to scare away the demons who lurk in the ice.
Today we will pass through what the porters call ‘Chadar Gate’. A little surprise for the trekkers.
By 3-4pm we should be in camp on a plateau above the river. Today we start putting up our own tents. Our and some staff will be the porters gather firewood, and soon the tea is ready.
Day 05 :- Trek to Dib yok ma Cave 3225m
This is a stunningly day as the river starts to curve and you can see the uphill slope of the ice as we ascend the river into Zanskar. We pass incredible waterfalls on our left, normally frozen into aquamarine ice cliffs. The waterfall was said to have come from a river given to local people who visited Tibet centuries ago to plead for water for their barren land. They were given a box which they were told they must open only on their return home. The curious Zanskaris were nearly home when one of them opened it;. Our porters use these caves to cook and sleep in, and many of them are slowly being turned into small huts by Zanskaris recruited by the Border Roads Organization to shelter the road workers as they come through here. As We have stringent hygiene rule’s for our kitchen, abundant hot water, and anti bacterial hand wash always available. Use it!
Day 06 :- Trek to Neraks pullu 3390m
Another spectacular day. Crags seem to leap up from the frozen river surface, and ibex can usually be seen defying gravity far above. After lunch we pass the ‘incense tree’, so called because the locals use its branches to burn in their morning rituals, and the prayer flag draped tree marks the entrance to Zanskar proper. The porters will normally take a few twigs from the tree, then tear a small piece of prayer flag to wrap it in, and present it to you. Welcome to Zanskar!
An hour later we turn a corner, and there, high above the river, is the bridge that links Zanskar with Ladakh, and Neraks village with Lingshed Monastery – in summer. Then the valley gorge opens up, and we see the small huts that mark some of the summer grazing of the Neraks villagers. The village is far above. A trail is normally beaten through the snow to these huts, where we camp. And rum is possible!
Day 07 :- 09th Trek back to Chilling and drive to Leh
You have not done the Chadar unless you walk both ways! It is four easy gently downhill days back, if the Gods are happy with us; we have a spare day to play with if not. We use different camps on the way back (usually) and it really is even more beautiful. Weather changes, light comes from different angles, illuminating different colours. And of course, the ice! The last day we have an easy three hour walk, and there are the jeeps waiting for us high above the river. Have we really been walking on water? It is a three hour drive to Leh, then that hot shower.
Day 10 :- Fly to Delhi
Today is last day we will say good bye to all zanskari and ladakh also to snow capped mountain between them kid playing with snow fields