Chadar Trek

Winter Lifeline of the people of Zanskar

Come and have a life time experience walking on the frozen river Zanskar in the high lands & the Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh, where the temperature will be sub zero. This route has been used from Centuries as a trade link by Zanskaris. On the way you will also have chance to stay with the local Zanskaris and visit some of the ancient monasteries behind the Ice walls, wedged between the mighty Karakoram & the Great Himalayan range.

Best Time : Mid January to Mid February.
Duration : 18 days.
Focus : Ice trek, Ladakh’s winter life, culture, monks and monasteries.
Physical Challenge: Some long trekking days & Harsh Cold
Highest Point : Leh 3,505 Mts. & Padum 3,610 Mts.
Climate : Usually sunny days but dry chilly winds, temperature can drop up to minus 25 Centigrade (- 25ºC).


Popularly known as, the land of numerous passes of mystic lamas, the broken moon & the last Shangri-La. Ladakh is bounded by two of the world’s highest Mountain ranges, the Karakoram and the great Himalaya. The Ladakh region varies between 9,000 ft. / 2743 mts. to 25,170 ft. / 7672 m. above the sea level. Ladakh is a Land of medieval monasteries, Fluttering prayer flags, high deserts, peaks and passes.
Based in the town of Leh (11,500 ft./ 3505 m), the journey include many fascinating excursions to nearby Gompas (monasteries), villages and surrounding countryside.

Zanskar Valley

Zanskar valley lies to the south – west of Leh, surrounded by the Himalaya and Zanskar ranges, which is the most isolated of all the trans – Himalayan Valleys. Zanskar comprises of two main valleys the Stod(Doda Chu) and the Lanak (Tsarap Chu)which coverage below at Padum. The valley has an area of about 5,000 sqr. kms. and an elevation of 13,154 feet/ 4010 mts. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 7 months in the year. All passes close in the winter and the river freeze on the surface. Zanskaris walk along it to reach the Indus River in Nimoo (Chilling village), which is known as the Chadar (frozen blanket) Trek. The geographical isolation has resulted in the preservation of the Buddhist heritage and identity. May ancient monastic establishments are still actively involved in religious activities some remote caves are believed to have been used by the successive Buddhist saints to sustain meditation in pursuit of knowledge and enlighten.

Detailed itinerary :

Day 1: Arrive in Leh
Transfer to Hotel. Rest for acclimatization.

Day 2: Sightseeing of Shey/Thiksay and Hemis monasteries.

Day 3: Drive to Tilat Sumdo-3100m (2 1/2 to 3 hrs).
It takes about an hour to get used to the “Ladakhi Shuffle” of walking on the frozen Zanskar. Boots with “sticky” soles are helpful as well as the poles. Practise walking in the afternoon.

Day 4: Trek to Shingra Yokma – 5hrs.
Leave camp by about 8.30am. Continue along the chadar to the cave at Bakula Bawo. It is believed that the first Bakula Rinpoche of Ladakh spent a week meditating in this cave. A juniper tree above the cave is considered holy to the locals who traverse this gorge.

Day 5: Tilat Sumdo to Tipkyeak Bawo – 6 1/2 to 7 hrs.
Leave camp by about 8.30am. We stop for lunch at Tsemodo for about an hour and continue to camp at Tipkyeak Bawo. The water in this particular section tends to melt more easily and we may at times have to traverse the steep rocks due to the melting ice. If there is no proper campsite, we will go further to camp at Gyalpo. – 3170m.

Day 6: Tipkyeak Bawa to Nyerak Pulu (3390m) – 6 – 7 hrs.
This can become a difficult day if the Chadar is not very firm. The scenery though is stunning as we pass incredible frozen waterfalls which look like ice cliffs. If you look closely chances are that you will see blue sheep, Ibex clinging onto the cliffs. Stop for lunch enroute at Yokmado near one of the many caves used by the Zanskaris at night and continue to walk on the Chadar to camp at Nyerak Pulu. The village is high above the river. (If the Chadar is in good condition this walk will take about 6 hrs otherwise it may take upto 8 hrs).

Day 7: Nyerak to Lingshed (3870m) – 5hrs.
Today is a short walk for about an hour and a half on the Chadar to a point called Lingshed Sumdo (confluence of the Lingshed Tokpo and Zanskar rivers). We walk through tremendous canyons stopping at a point called Tipu in the gorge for lunch. Continue to Lingshed, a fairly large village with an interesting monastery and Solar school and hostel built by an Austrian who still sends teachers there and looks after the school. We spend the afternoon around the village and spend the night in family homes.

Day 8: Lingshed to Tsarak Do (3400m).
Visit the monastery in the morning then trek for 2 hrs through the valley before reaching the frozen Chadar. We then begin our walk on the frozen river to Tsarak Do.5 – 6hrs. (Depending on the ice conditions we would stay either at Tsarak Do or Tib Gongma which is before Tsarak Do.

Day 9: Tsarak Do to Pidmo (3500m) – 6 – 7 hrs.
We continue on the ice and then follow a trail alongside the frozen river. We stop for lunch at the village of Hanumil before continuing another 3 hrs to our camp at the village of Pidmo where we will stay in the tents or in the local houses. We also have the option of walking on the road for another hour and driving to Zangla village (can be utilized if we lose a day).

Day 10: Pidmo to Zangla (3370m) – 2 to 3hrs.
Today a short walk on the road to the village of Zangla. We cross the Chadar by bridge to reach Zangla. We spend the night in the village here. Zangla is where the erstwhile king of Zanskar resides. We will visit the fort and go around the large village where you will see children skiing, sledging on shovels!

Day 11: Zangla to Stongde (3450m) – 4 – 5 hrs.
Morning we can visit the nunnery for the morning prayer ceremony. We then trek on the main trekking route to Stongde following a rough jeep track. Stongde is a fairly large village with an interesting monastery which we visit.

Day 12: Trek to Karsha (3800m) (4 hrs.)
Taking the lower trekking route and avoiding Padum’ we trek to Karsha which is again another large village with one of the largest monasteries’ of Zanskar covering the hillside. The views of the Zanskar valley are excellent from the roof top. We again stay in local houses.

Day 13: Drive to Pidmo bridge and walk to the village on the main trek trail – 3 hrs.
We have to walk for about 30 mins from the road head to the village of Pidmo where we stay in village homes.

Day 14: Descend to the Chadar and Trek back towards Chilling.
Camp at Tsarak Do.

Day 15: Trek back to Nyerak.

Day 16: Trek back to Dambuchan.
We stop for lunch at Tipkyeak Bawo – 5hrs hrs from where it is another 2hrs to camp in a lovely place with lots of juniper trees at Dambuchan.

Day 17: Trek to Tilat Sumdo.
We walk back to Shingra Yokma (4 hrs) where we have lunch and continue further to Tilat Sumdo. If the condition is not good on the Chadar we will be crossing some cliffs.

Day 18: End trek at Chilling(3hrs)
where vehicles will be waiting to drive you to Leh( 1/2 hrs).

Day 19: Fly back to Delhi.

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