The Ultimate guide to the Chadar Trek, Ladakh


I wrote about 
Markha Valley trek in my last article.

Today, I will take you to another stunning and surprisingly amazing trek in Ladakh, The Chadar Trek.

Ladakh has always captured my attention with its beautiful scenery, river, and treks. It is a kind of paradise for bike riders. One of the most famous riders destination all over the world.

Today, we will not discuss riding. But hey, don’t get disappointed, I have another awesome plan for you all.

Trekking, Yeah trekking in Chadar.

The Chadar Trek or Zanskar Gorge is situated in Zanskar region of Ladakh. Chadar Trek is one of the most thrilling and adventurous treks in India. The Chadar Trek in real is the frozen Zanskar River.

It is because in the language used by locals “Chadar” indicates the layer of Ice that covers the river.

During Winter season, this frozen path is used by locals and tourist as an access route to Zanskar Valley. And in summer, the river becomes the perfect destination for river rafting.

The best time to do Chadar trek is In January and February when the temperature goes down to -30 to -35 degree and makes the Zanskar look like a crystal lake.

Short Overview

Region:                                    Ladakh (J&K)
Max Altitude:                         11,123 Ft.
Grade:                                     Difficult
Duration:                                9 Days
Trekking Distance:                Approximately 70 Kms.
Best time for Chadar trek:   January- February

Detailed Overview of the Chadar Trek

Day 1
Arrive at Leh

The time has come to start your trek. And your journey starts after reaching Leh, Ladakh.

The best way to reach Leh during winter is by Flight. And you will know why it is hard to reach Leh by road in winters. When you see down from the flight, the only thing you will see is SNOW. Mountains, roads everything covered with snow.

It makes your start exciting and now you are feeling when Leh is so beautiful what we will able to see in the Chadar trek.

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I will explain it later, but first enjoy your flight. Leh, One of the highest airport in the world will welcome you with fresh air and view. That will leave you to praise this beautiful terrain of India.

At Leh, you can stay in hotels, go shopping and eat in the town.

Day 2
Drive to Tilad Do via Chilling.

A Day of witnessing the sunrise from the Shanti Stupa and get some iconic and mesmerizing view of surroundings of Leh.

The Day 2 is more surprising as today, you will drive to Chilling (approx. 65 Km). The ride will take you to the village of Nimu along Indus river where Zanskar meets Indus.

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You can stop at the Nimu (Confluence Point of Zanskar and Indus) as it is a perfect place to capture the beauty.

After getting some perfect pictures, it’s time to start your journey once again. Be attentive as you may see some heart-stopping moments on the road. As the vehicle negotiates the steep hairpin bends over snow covered road.

The road takes you to Tilad Do from Chilling to. Snow covered mountains, the sunshine on the snow make it more beautiful.

Day 3
Tilad Do to Shingra Koma

On day 3, your trek starts. Do not take me wrong, but chadar trek will give you the challenge.

That goes like this,”Come on you trekkers, you want to trek! It is not so easy as you are thinking, I will turn you into ICE cube

But, we trekkers, are not afraid as we are always ready to take challenges.

And let me tell you what actually the challenge define, the biggest challenge from day 3 is to get out of your warm sleeping bags and go out into the freezer outside.

Shingra koma
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A natural Freezer!! Believe me, it’s really Cold!!

10 km of walking on the Chadar, depends on the weather condition. The ice can be thick or thin, the surface can be slippery or it can have a dusting of snow over it.

But one thing which always leave me in thoughts, the locals here a chadar, it seems that they have some kind of sixth sense as they know where to step in chadar.

At some places, you need to walk in ankle deep water, climb on the cliff which eventually make you used to walk on the chadar trek.

Drink water, have your lunch as it is necessary ingredients to run your body.

After crossing Shingra Koma, you will reach to Gyalpo. Rest for overnight here.

You may also like

The Ultimate guide to Hampta Pass trek, Manali (Himachal Pradesh)

Day 4
Shingra Koma to Tibb Cave

Another day with most fantastic landscapes and ice. You might even see the sight of bharals or blue sheep as trekking goes along the frozen river.

The mountains wall on either side of the river keeps the sunlight away from chadar trek. These mountains also offer you the number of caves, small or big.

You may also see frozen waterfalls.

frozen waterfall
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It is said that centuries ago when the locals faced the dearth of water and went to Tibet for Water. They were handed over a box which was said to open after reaching the village.But the villagers were so curious for knowing, what is inside the box. They opened it before reaching the village. Two fishes jumped out of the box and created two huge waterfalls.

One out of those waterfalls is not iced-up even in such cold. The only place on Chadar trek where you will see the greenery is here below this waterfalls and the rocks are covered with moss here.

When you reach Tibb, there is a big cave which will welcome you warm-heartedly.

Day 5
Tibb cave to Narek

Chadar trek is full of surprises, and it goes on Day 5 too. You need to be very cautious as Chadar may make your trek difficult. The routes are stunning though as you pass through giant frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. And you might see the mountain fox.

mountain fox
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Pass the Incense trees, so called because local people used the branches of a tree to burn for morning rituals. The prayer flag draped tree marks the entrance to Zanskar.

You will reach Narak by late afternoon.

As Folklore goes there is an old bridge on the river which is said to be more than a 1000 years old.

From the river, Nerak Village lies several feet above. If you are willing to see the ZANSKARI, set up your camp near the river.

Day 6
Narek to Tibb Cave

Nerak to Tibb cave??

You have  just reached to Tibb cave, and now I am saying to move back.

Yes, Though it is the same way but with more surprises. I told you that Chadar trek will give you surprises.

The Chadar or the Layer of Ice on the river is always changing, from breaking to get into formation. As chadar can not be in static position and gives you an amazing feel, that you will say. Is that the same route?

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Trekkers will pass and the locals(Wearing Traditional wooden Gonchas while trekking towards the village of Nerak and Padum ) will meet you while your way back to Tibb.

Day 7
Tibb Cave to Shingra Koma.

Get up and start your returning chadar trek from Tibb. You will go up to Gyalpo today. The beauty of Chadar trek walk with you, the mountain walls either side of the river, the footprints of foxes, or Snow-leopard goes step by step.

snow leopard
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It is like, Either you or they are following each other.

You would be lucky to view a snow-leopard.

Day 8
Shingra Koma to Tilad Do and drive to Leh

Time to say Bye- Bye to Chadar trek.

This is the last day of your trek. So grab as many memories you can collect on you way back to Leh. Praise the beauty of Chadar on the river.

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Your drive of 65 Km to Leh from Tilad do starts now.

Day 9
Return from Leh

After reaching Leh, your trek now technically finished.

You will now move back to your home, job or work.

But what Chadar trek gave you is memories.

chadar trek
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Memories of Snow covered mountains, memories of Local people, memories of hanging with friends, memories of the waterfall, memories of only place with greenery in such freezing conditions and more.

Useful Tips You should look

Before going for the Chadar trek, Make sure that you have all the essential things with you. Make a checklist of following items.

Few Pieces of advice for you

  • You will be trekking in an Eco-friendly Zone. So do not litter.
  • Do not rely on sports shoes, Trekking shoes will be the best to walk on the snowy surface.
  • Do not trek during night.
  • Consult a trekker (Experienced) about backpacking. Do not take so much in the backpack as it might slow your speed.
  • If you are visiting any religious site such as temple or monasteries, always follow the guidelines.
  • Do not compromise of drinking water during the trek. Drink boiled water.
  • Avoid tight clothing, plastic bags, heavy meals tobacco and alcohol.
  • Last but not least, do not disturb the locals.

So you know the details, pieces of advice and things to carry. What are you still thinking?

Just grab your things, book a flight and enjoy one of the most stunning and amazing trek, The Chadar trek.

Have a safe trek!

Also Try

A Detailed Guide of Triund Trek.

The Ultimate guide to Markha Valley Trek, Ladakh.


About Author

Naval Gupta, an entrepreneur who runs faster than the clock and has very less time to spare for himself, somehow finds time to write! Ask him why, he says ' writing is that fun time activity with which I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Travelling and trekking being one of his favorite activities, he cant stop his hands when he starts writing on travel. His articles hit the bulls eye and are to the point as he believes in ' seedi baat- no bakwaas'. With lots of information written in simple English, his articles will definetly inspire you to pack your bags and start travelling.

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