CHADAR TREK - Located at an altitude of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet in Leh Ladakh region, the beauty of Zanskar is like no place in India. It remains cut off from the rest of the world from the beginning of November till around April (around 4-6 months in a year).
The Zanskar river which takes its form onwards from Padum, after merging with its different tributaries, flows in a north-easterly direction through the dramatic Zanskar gorge and merges with the Indus river; the confluence being at Nimmu, just on the outskirts of Leh on the Leh-Kargil road.
As the bitter winter arrives in the valley, temperatures plummet drastically. With the river mostly flowing through deep gorges and with very little direct sunlight, the surface of the water freezes over during the coldest months of mid-January to mid-February. Zanskaris for generations, having been cut off during the winter months, trek on this ice surface to reach Leh for their emergency supplies, education and also for the different winter religious festivals that take place in Leh.
"CHADAR" refers to this blanket or ice sheet as the Zanskar River transforms itself from raging river into a white blanket of ice during winter, providing an incredible frozen spectacle for trekkers to be experienced.
The Chadar Trek is the coldest trek in India, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -30C. During the day, the temperatures reach a cosy -10C and at night you can expect a chilly -30C. We at Adventure-Pulse provide you with Thick Alpine Tents, dual-layered sleeping bags (similar to the ones the army uses at their high-altitude posts) and plenty of hot water. This will ensure that at night, you can sleep comfortably. During the day, layering is the best way to keep warm.
The hardest aspect of the Chadar Trek is the cold and it requires some mental strength to bear. Although physically, the Chadar trek is less demanding than other high-altitude treks, it makes up for it with the sustained sub-zero temperatures.
The Chadar Trek is an easy trek with regards to the distance covered. It is the cold that is the major hurdle. We recommend this trek for individuals looking for a truly unique experience and who are looking to challenge themselves mentally and physically; this includes beginners and seasoned trekkers.
Read More about the Chadar Trek: Everything you need to know about the Chadar Trek
Best Time : Mid January to Mid February
Duration : 09 Days
Max. Altitude : 3500 m
Commences At : Leh
Ends At : Leh
While in Leh, Adventure Pulse will put you up in a comfortable hotel / Guest house with a centrally heated dining area. You also have an option of upgrading your hotel to 4 star property like the – Zen Ladakh on actuals. Once we start the trek, the accommodation is in a camp set up. We would have good quality tents on double/triple sharing basis, with a separate dinning tent for meals and a separate toilet tent. Sleeping bags and mats are also provided by Adventure Pulse.
You need to be in good physical shape to undertake this trek. It’s the coldest trek in India and does demand good physical fitness. Though physically it’s not very challenging, it does involve 5 -6 hours of walking everyday over 5 days. Please refer to our Physical fitness document for more details on this topic.
One needs to fly to Leh for the Chadar trek. There are regular flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Leh. On your arrival in Leh, You need to hire a prepaid taxi from the airport to reach your pre-booked hotel. After our 03 days of acclimatization at Leh, we would drive to the start point of the trek, which is a 01 hour drive from Leh. The trek will end at the same point.
Apart from good quality warm clothing, we highly recommend using the local made Gum boots for this trek. The terrain is a little tricky and there may be patches where one may need to vade through a little bit of water if the Chadar is not strong and stable enough and the local made gum boots are best suited for this trek . You can also carry your regular trekking shoes as back up. Other than this, no other personal climbing equipment is required. For list of other things and warm clothing to carry, please refer to our link - List of things to carry for this trek.
Regular phone and data services work in Leh. But please note that only postpaid services work on roaming in Leh and Pre-paid services won’t work. Leh has good phone and data connectivity with 3G and 4G services also available on most network. While on the trek there is no network and one is disconnected from the world during the course of the trek.
Leh is located at an altitude of 3250 m and it’s important we spent the first 48 hours acclimatizing in Leh. We at Adventure Pulse consider acclimatization as one of the most important aspects of trekking and spend enough time to do that. Once you arrive in Leh, the first 03 days are spent acclimatizing. On day 02 morning, we go for a short 02 hour acclimatization hike up to a monastery. In the evening, we walk to the Leh market and walk back to our hotel, thus allowing the body to get used to the conditions around.
The hotel in Leh serves good breakfast which is included in the meal plan. During the day and evening, one can order à la carte service in the hotel or even go to the close by market to try some local cuisine. While on the trek, all meals are included and the meals are usually a good mix of Indian and continental food. Our cooks are very experienced and will be happy to entertain any particular requests you may have for your meals. All the meals are served in the common dinning tent.
Regular shower facilities will be available in the hotel in Leh. But while we are higher up on the mountain, Shower facility is not available during the trek and not advisable also due to the extreme temperatures.
The Adventure Pulse staff and guides carry a fully equipped medical kit with necessary medicines and an Oxygen meter. As a standard practice, we check oxygen levels of all our clients twice a day and take necessary precautions if any irregularity is found in the oxygen reading. In case the problem persists, the client is sent down with a qualified guide. In case of an Injury where the trekker is not in a position to walk down, our staff and porters will help carry the person down to the road head where a vehicle and a doctor visit in Leh can be organized.
Adventure usually plans all it treks during the most favorable season, but having said that, weather is always an unpredictable factor. We usually look at weather reports before leaving for the trek. Buffer day/s are always built in the itinerary as contingency if we get hit by unfavorable weather conditions. In the worse situation, we may have to turn back midway, but safety is always a priority which cannot be compromised on.
Extreme temperature variations, high altitude, snow glare & proximity to sun are certain factors which necessitate the need to for proper trekking equipment. In order to enjoy your experience in the mountains, we have recommended that you carry the following with you.
If you are unable to procure any of the above mentioned items, then suitable arrangements will be made so that the same can be either bought or rented in Leh based upon actuals.
The Chaddar trek is a trek where you need to be in good physical condition before you start the trek. Your body should be able to bear extreme cold caused by the subzero temperatures which can even drop down to as low as – 25 degree Celsius. You must be able to brisk walk / slow jog for 4 – 5 km before the trek starts. This makes your lungs strong and gives it ability to process less air for more work. It also helps the body to acclimatize better to the cold and low oxygen levels. Having taken several groups for Chaddar trek and many other high altitude treks, here’s what we recommend you to follow in order to get fit for the trek.
Week 1/2: Develop a habit of getting up early in the morning and run / brisk walk for minimum 2 – 3 km, at least 3 – 4 days a week. This would represent 20 – 25 minutes of cardio. Also avoid taking elevators and start using the stairs instead. To start with, climb 3 – 4 floors each day to make your thigh muscles strong. If running is not your thing, you can cycle for about 30 minutes or swim for about 500 m, at least 4 times a week.
Week 3/4: Being consistent with your exercise during week 1 and 2, increase your distance to 4 – 5 km and 5 times a week. You can also start with interval training which is a method of training the cardiovascular system by elevating the heart rate significantly and then allowing it to recover for a period before elevating it again. Ex. You may sprint to push your heart rate, then walk to allow it to calm down before starting the sprint again.
Week 5/6: Strength & Endurance. After successfully following the schedule for the first 4 weeks, Just be consistent with your work out and increase the intensity slowly.
Consistency is the key. If you follow the above schedule thoroughly; you will be able to acclimatize better while at high altitude. Each and every time you go to a mountain, you must have the physical fitness to better enjoy the experience.
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