Winters are tough! Who would want to leave the warmth of one’s blanket and room! Well… there are some for whom, winters are the right time to trek. You read it right…TREK! And that too over a frozen river.
The Chadar Trek or the Zanskar Gorge is a winter trail in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, in Jammu and Kashmir. Traditionally the only means of travel in the area during the harsh winter months, the trail has become popular with international adventure tourists.
Chadar Trek is a winter trail in Zanskar region of Ladakh. Traditionally, the locals used to walk over the frozen Chadar, or blanket, of icy waters of the river Zanskar to fetch supplies and to connect with the outside world. It has been their traditional route for centuries.
The perfect time to go on this trek is between January and February. While the cliffs on both sides of the frozen river are as high as 600 m, the river itself reduces to as less as 5 m wide in bone chilling temperature of -35 degree centigrade. Walking through these majestic cliffs over pristine but frozen waters is a lifetime experience. The seven to eight days walk from chilling to Padum is both challenging as well as an incomparably exciting experience.
The prominent regions that fall en route Chadar Trek are:
Tilat Sumdo – Tilat Sumdo acts as a campsite for Chadar Trek. ‘Sumdo’ literally means ‘the confluence’. There is a small stream meeting the Zanskar at this point. Tilat Sumdo offers splendid vistas of the Himalayan Range.
Shinra Koma – Positioned about 10 kilometers away from Tilat Sumdo, Shingra Koma is a scenic spot showcasing rustic beauty that simply spellbinds the travelers. Shingra Koma is a place with unsurpassed tranquility and a mesmerizing panorama.
Tibb – Tibb is a picturesque place offering a fascinating waterfall and cave. This Tibb cave is also used for overnight stay by the trekkers. The vistas of sun-kissed mountains from Tibb are an enchanting sight to witness
Nerak – Nerak serves as a base camp for the trek. The view of sunset from Nerak is so gripping that an avid adventurer cannot afford to miss it. This region is sheer bliss for a nature lover’s eyes.
Gyalpo – Gyalpo is an enchanting campsite positioned at a bend in the Zanskar River. This region is flanked by imposing peaks and walls of rock faces that look man-made. The tourists can soak themselves in the surreal natural beauty here.
Dibyokma – Dibyokma is a campsite that offers dream-like panoramas including breathtaking views of the Himalayas. The serene and intact environment of Dibyokma makes tourists fall in love with this place.
Lingshed – One of the oldest villages in Ladakh, Lingshed boasts awe-inspiring exquisiteness of nature. This region is prominently famous for the Lingshed Monastery, which is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh as well.
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The major difficulty of the Chadar Trek is of getting accustomed to the harsh climate conditions at an altitude of around 13,000 feet above sea level. The long and strenuous journey can cause exhaustion in the trekkers and thus, there is a need of high endurance and expertise. Proper stamina and ability is something that is non-negotiable when embarking on the Chadar Trek.
The overall distance is approximately 105 kilometres (65 mi) – an average trekker walks 16 kilometres (10 mi) per day.
There ample reasons for a trekker to embark on this adventure. The trek is certainly all about savoring thrill in its rawest form, as long as caution is heeded.
Image credits Parul Jasrotia.