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Chadar Frozen River Trek Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When is the best time to go to Chadar Trek?

    One of the most unique and magnificient treks of the world, Chadar Trek is huge popular now. Chadar or cover, signifies the frozen sheet of ice that is formed on the raging River Zanskar due to extreme coldness as well as due to the less amount of direct sunlight as the river flows through a narrow gorge. Solid ice is best around the time the Chadar trek takes place, from 2nd week of January to 2nd week of February - the time when the coldness is at it maximum during the winte rmonths, hence this time frame is the best time for this Zanskar River trek.

    Chadar Trek is the only route available to the villagers in the Padum and Lingshed region to go to Leh and back. Regular up-downs are done by the locals to earn their wages. The trek itself is the quintessential example of the resourcefulness and the indomitable spirit of the Ladakhi people. Though, the trek will soon cease to be the sole mode of access between Leh and Padum in winters. A road is being constructed by blasting off the rock-face above the river. It will be a much safer and convenient route for the locals, but surely mark the end of an ancient local custom.

  2. What is the level of difficulty of Chadar trek?

    If you can walk on an average of 5 to 6km without a problem, then you can! As such any one with good average fitness can do this trek and any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more. Overall chadar trek is a moderate trek but temperature wise it is cold, though after the first couple of nights on the Chadar, trekkers are much more adjusted to the bitter cold!

  3. How cold does it really get on the Chadar trek?

    During the day time temperature will be -5 to -10 degrees and during the night time -20 to -25 degrees. While on the trek, the activity itself gives the body some warmth.

  4. What kind of attire do I wear to endure the extreme Chadar Trek winter cold?

    Wearing clothes in layers is much effective is combating the bitter cold, particularly at night.
    Layer 1 - Starting with inner thermals
    Layer 2 - full sleeves t-shirt and track pants; Woolen Socks (One double woven woolen socks with one warm nylon or normal woolen socks inside). Carry enough spare socks and other undergarments.
    Layer 3 - Fleece Jacket. Good thick Woolen Monkey Cap or Balaclava with woolen Muffler
    Layer 4 - Wind Proof / Water Proof Jacket
    Layer 5 - A jacket or anothe layer of inner thermals. Two Pair of gloves (Thin Woolen inside and outside Wind Proof / Waterproof Snow Gloves). Good Pair of Sun Glasses with Good UV Protection.

    Wearing in layers also helps to remove one or two layers as you feel warm due to the activity of trekking; similarly while going off to sleep in the sleeping bag, a few layers can be removed if feeling uncomfortable. Avoid cotton T shirts.

    Pack similar things such as clothes or toleteries or others in separate polythene bags so they are easier to find and pull out. Trekking pole is absolutely desirable as it greatly helps during the Chadar trek.

  5. How long do we walk each day?

    A day on a trek begins with breakfast at 7 am by which time; you are expected to vacate your tent so packing can begin. We aim to usually be on the trail by 8:30 am and reach our camp for the day by 2-3pm, if not earlier. Long days on the trail may mean an earlier start and 8-10 hour walking day. Lunch is usually had on the walk, and you'd get into the kitchen tent for a welcome cup of tea.

  6. Who will lead and who all will go along with us?

    Our entire crew will consist of very expereienced Zanskari guide and cooking staff (along with Zanskari porters), which would prepare the meals for the days and nights that we are camping out. The entire crew moves together in a totally self-contained manner like a tight knit unit. Some of the porters will go ahead forward and set up the camps and the kitchen tent, before the trekkers reach the designated camping area for that day.

    Benefits of employing Zanskaris and local Ladakhis?
    • Employ Guides with intimate knowledge of the areas you want to visit. This is especially important for trekking off-the-beaten-track and winter trekking on the Zanskar River.
    • The direct employment of Zanskaris and Ladakhis will benefit the local economy.
    • A greater chance of experiencing and understanding Zanskar's traditions, cultural heritage and contemporary issues. Your visit to Zanskar becomes more than just a walk or trek.

    Important Note:
    Your safety is of paramount concern while traveling with Big Planet. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary; however, since this adventure entails travelling in remote mountainous regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not deviate from it. Weather conditions, health condition of a group member, unexpected natural disasters, etc., can all contribute to changes in the itinerary. The leader will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but please be prepared to be flexible if required.

  7. How big are the groups?

    Groups range from 8 to 12 people in one batch and includes both males and female. All batch dates as displayed on the website are guarrantted to run, even if the trekkers are less than 8. Be assured, service and coordination remains effortless whatever be the size of the group.

  8. I am the only girl in trek, is it safe?

    Absolutely. Normally all trek groups have both males and females. If you are the single girl in a batch, single tent accomodation will be provided at no extra cost.

  9. I can't carry my bag can anyone carry it for me?

    Yes, But you should intimate in 15 days in advance, so that we will arrange porter accordingly.

  10. Which type of shoes should I have?

    Good standard trekking shoes are sufficient for the trek. On Chadar, which is solid ice or a slight cover of snow on slippery ice, trekkers have found to their amazement that a simple gumboot finally is the best for Chadar. Most of the outside agencies in order to impress tell about crampons. In my years of experience in Ladakh and on Chadar too, I can absolutely say that crampons are quite dicey - quite a few trekkers have injured themselves or worse broken their ankle while a crampon get stuck on the fine cracks in the ice. Gumboot is available in Leh hardware shop and can be purchased here itself. If your shoe size is 9-10, getting a pair might be start searching as soon as you land in Leh.

    Trekkers will soon learn and modify their trek to the "penguin walk" style on seeing from the porters and guide! It is a kind of dragging your foot and not lifting much.

  11. How many trekkers will be in one tent?

    Two trekkers in one tent.

  12. What type of food is served during a trek?

    We always serve Indian vegetarian food and eggs during our trek.

  13. How to get safe drinking water on the trek?

    Himalayan water is consider as a clean and mineral water but for safe side we use boil water and chlorine tablet in our camps, during the trek ask once to trek leader or guide from where to fill water bottles. It is important to keep sipping on water through the trek. as one can get dehydratd and still not feel it due to the cold.

  14. Do you think I should bring some medicines with me?

    Yes, absolutely . It will help for you all to carry some easy to access medicine on the trip, for headaches, diarrhoea, constipation, and some rehydration powders like Electoral etc. It's also a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper accessible should you need to go.

    Travel to any part of the Indian Himalayas and more so in Ladakh deserves a little more respect than many other high altitude destinations because the most of the regions lie over 3500 meters (11000+ ft). People in good health should not get alarmed by this but if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, you must take the advice of a doctor who has experience with the effects of altitude. TheMedical Certificate and the Release of Liability forms, is mandatory for the trek participants. If you are not able to get the medical certificate, you would have to sign a self-declaration risk declaration i.e., basically a form that states that the participant is going on his/her own risk. The risk declaration form will be available in Leh. .

  15. Change of the itinerary during trek?

    Depending on the prevailing situation, however the date of trek completion should always coincide with the original itinerary. You should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip into the remotest region, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in itinerary. In such cases, we or your trek leader will suggest the best alternative similar to your original itinerary.

  16. Cutomization of trip?

    Yes, if you would like to travel independently, you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people. Cost for private trip is fixed on the basis of group size, trek area, duration and trek style.

  17. Why is the trek costly?

    1. You have only one option to reach Leh during winter, i.e. fly to and fro all other route are blocked due to extreme winter.
    2. Expensive labour, Porter rates are more than double in the bitter cold and harsh winter months.
    3. All food has to be flown in so obviously is very expensive.
    4. Fuel since limited is expensive, it takes almost twice the amount of fuel to cook the food than in normal conditions.

    Everything is paid for and arranged more than a month before the trek season due to scarcity of material and men during those two extreme cold months. As such the trek fee is collected before the actual trek date.