There are quite a few offbeat destinations in India, but trekking in Ladakh is simply one of the best. Ladakh as a destination offers a range of adventurous experiences, taking you through beautiful valleys, great heights, remote villages and gorgeous canyons. But if you want to experience the best of Ladakh adventure, the Chadar trek is something you should embark on.
About Chadar trek
During the winter months, when the temperature in Ladakh drops way below the zero degree mark, most of the mountain passes are blocked due to heavy snowfall. The only possible route to the outside world is the frozen Zanskar River, which runs through the remote and gorgeous Zanskar Valley. During the winter months, the frozen route is used by locals to get their children to school, make contact with the outside world, and trade commodities.
In fact, the route has constantly been used as trading route in winter months for centuries. Ever since Tibetans first came and settled in Ladakh, the route has been used by them for trading purposes. In the olden days, it was usually local Ladakh butter which was traded.
Chadar Trek takes you through a journey on the frozen Zanskar River. The white sheet ice covering the lake for as far as your eyes can see is simply a gorgeous site. Most of the Chadar trek happens to be on the river only, though the actual route varies depending on the difficulties and the tour operator.
What can you expect?
Chadar Trek is opened every year to trekkers after January 15, continuing to the end of February. It is one of the most difficult treks in Ladakh, and you can expect to face a lot of challenged during it. The level of difficulty depends upon the time of the year you are taking the trek. In the latter half of January, temperatures are really cold. They are usually around -15 degrees Celsius and go down to -30 degrees Celsius at night. Due to extremely cold temperatures, Zanskar River is completely frozen, and you wouldn’t have to cross any thin layers of ice or water holes.
That makes the trek relatively simpler, since there is relatively lesser use of ice climbing gear. However, as the temperatures begin to rise, the ice on the lake begins to thaw, which makes the trek more difficult. On that account, you are better off taking the trek as soon as it opens rather than in the month of February.
Chadar Trek is one of the longest treks in Ladakh. It could be anywhere between 15-20 days, depending on the route you take. But before you embark on this trek, it is important to get acclimatized to the extreme weather conditions. But even before that, you should only take this trek if you have done considerable trekking before. This is not a trek for the beginner or novice. You need to have certain technical skills in order to cross dangerous patches of ice.
Apart from that, you also need a transporter with you on this trek. You will be carrying a lot of camping and trekking gear with you, which can be arduous. Although the temperatures are really low, it does take a lot out of you due to the difficulty involved. That’s why, it is better to hire someone to carry your luggage around. You can hire someone once you reach Ladakh. People of Ladakh are hardy people and they do a good job of it.
If you can, you must
If you think you are capable of trekking for 20 days in extremely cold conditions, Chadar trek is one of the must have treks in Ladakh. Walking on ice, alongside the locals, who seem to be nonchalant about the whole experience, is an absolute delight.
This guest post is kindly provided by Divij Pasrija
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