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Chadar Trek – Preparation Guide for Beginners

Want to know Chadar Trek Altitude?  Is Chadar Trek safety a concern for you? Is Chadar Trek for Beginners? Want to know Chadar Trek 2020 booking Information?

Here is a Complete Guide to Chadar Trek from Altitude Adventure India 

The Chadar Trek is a thrilling expedition over the frozen Zanskar river which lies deep in the formidable mountains of Ladakh, India.  It is a trek of epic proportions taken under challenging weather conditions of Zanskar Valley that see temperatures drop as low as -35C in the night. It is regarded as one of the most stunning and exhilarating winter trek across the world. The excursion includes walking in the Zanskar valley on the frozen sheet of ice during the day and camping near the caves during the night.

How to reach the Chadar Trek?

The Chadar Trek starts from Leh which is located in Ladakh,  India. It happens during the winter months of January & February and the only way to reach Leh in these months is by flight.  GoAir & Spicejet are two domestic airlines which have regular flights from Delhi to Leh which reach in the early morning. There are no afternoon or evening flights to Leh.

The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh, which is around 4-5 km away from Leh city. When you reach Leh airport, you get a cab, which will take you to your hotel or guest house in Leh. A taxi from Leh airport usually costs around INR 400-500. You mention the name of your guest house to the taxi driver and he will drop you exactly to the location.

After three days of your arrival in Leh, you will depart for a 2-hour road journey to Chilling, which is 65 km from Leh. From Chilling you will embark on your Chadar Trek adventure to Nerak village and back.

What is the Chadar Trek difficulty?

There are two difficulties in doing the Chadar Trek.

  • High Altitude
  • Cold Weather

Chadar Trek altitude is 11,480 feet or 3500 meters.

Any place above 8000 feet you are susceptible to AMS i.e., Altitude Mountain syndrome, especially if you don’t have proper fitness. The cold Leh Ladakh temperature which dips till -30 C at night adds to the deteriorating health of trekkers.

Though the trek is a flat walk along the frozen river with almost no climbing,  the challenge is to walk in the extreme cold where even in day the temperature is -10 degrees and night temperatures it may dip up to -30 degrees.

Is Chadar Trek safe for beginners? Is it possible to make it by a zero experience trekker to attempt this best winter trek in India?

Yes, Chadar Trek is safe for beginners. It is possible for a first-time trekker to get this most enchanting experience. Provided you take certain precautions and have adequate preparation.

Earlier, Chadar Trek was considered to be a challenging trek meant only for experienced trekkers. There were few organizers and very little was known about the Chadar trek and its conditions. Lack of proper gear made this trek which happens in the sub-zero Leh Ladakh temperature even more challenging.

Not anymore 🙂

In fact, nowadays the majority of the adventure seekers who come for chadar trek are first-time trekkers. They have never trekked before, they are beginners, yet they are coming for this challenging yet mesmerizing trek.

Chadar Trek can be done by beginners too,  but you need to take certain precautions before you attempt this dream trek.

First and most important precaution you need to take is proper acclimatization at high altitude if you have to trek in Ladakh. You need three days of proper acclimatizing at Leh before you can embark on this epic adventure. But some trekkers take acclimatizing very lightly and depart the very next day after their arrival. These are the ones who find it difficult when they are walking on the frozen Zanskar river.

We have noticed a few trekkers who had AMS symptoms but didn’t want to undergo a medical check. They fear if they are diagnosed with AMS by the doctor and advised rest they may miss the trek.

Most trekkers invest a lot of money on this dream trek for their travel, trek packages, gears for extreme cold and other fees. Hence they don’t want to miss out on the experience even if they have AMS. Sometimes they don’t even know they have AMS. Unfortunately, some organizers also compromise on the acclimatization and medical checkup aspect. The situation aggravates when these unfit trekkers are on the Chadar, but till that time it’s too late.

Fortunately, the Ladakh administration has now regularized the chadar frozen river trek event by making three days acclimatization compulsory for trekkers before proceeding for the trek.

Getting accustomed to the cold weather conditions is another difficulty of the Chadar Trek.

How do I protect myself from cold during the Chadar Trek?

Carry enough warm clothes and dress in layers to protect yourself from cold. Temperature can plunge to as low as minus 30 degrees C in the night.

Dressing up in layers is MOST crucial to deal with the extreme cold during the Chadar trek. Wear a minimum of 4-5 layers on a Chadar trek. Don’t go for that 1 jacket which says it’s suitable for -10 or -20 degrees. Layering gives you the option to mix and match and dress as per how much warmth you want to get. You can reduce a layer if you are feeling hot or add on an extra layer if you’re more prone to feeling cold. The 5 layers I recommend and with the order is 1. Thermal 2. T-Shirt 3. Fleece 4. Down jacket and 5. Wind jacket.

Wear the 5th Layer depending upon chilly winds and how much prone you are to cold weather. I have noticed that Indians who live near the plains usually require all the 5 layers, whereas anyone who is accustomed to living in cold weather conditions is comfortable in just 3-4 layers. Every individual is unique and reacts differently to cold, so layer up as what suits your body and don’t compare yourself with others.

For your bottom, you should wear up to 2-3 layers.

  • Thermal Pants or Fleece Pants or both
  • Trek Pant

Click here to know a complete guide on how to keep yourself warm on the Chadar Trek

How to do be physically fit for the Chadar Trek?

The Chadar trek has long walks and it may cause exhaustion in some trekkers; thus, there is a need for high endurance. Proper stamina and ability to walk in high altitudes is something that you need to build up before venturing for the Chadar Trek. Cardiovascular training at least four weeks before the trek is critically important. Training must also include strength and flexibility workout.

Click here for our fitness guide to prepare for Chadar Trek.

Is Chadar Trek safe for girls traveling solo?

Yes. Mountains are much safer than city roads and we say it with conviction. We have lots of solo female trekkers who join us. We ensure that only female trekkers share the tent with other female trekkers.

Ladakh is considered one of the safest place for girls traveling solo in India. The locals are accommodating, caring and respectful to girls traveling solo in Ladakh.

For the trek, you need to take certain precautions just the way other people do for themselves.

Click here to read a blog written by one of our trekkers regarding Chadar trek for girls.  

What are the latest Chadar Trek Rules and Regulations of the Ladakh administration?

You need three days of proper acclimatizing at Leh before you can embark on the Chadar Trek.

Leh Ladakh administration has brought three necessary regulations for chadar Trek since 2019 which will be applicable from 2019 onwards.

  • Acclimatizing in Leh for three days
  • Medical Check before the trek up at Leh
  • Medical Insurance for the chadar trek and rescue
  • NOC from ALTOA followed by the Permit from the Wildlife Department.

The Permit will be issued to each trekker only after producing the medical certificate.

What are the Chadar Trek Medical, Wildlife Permit and Insurance fees?

The total fees for Medical, Insurance and Altoa NOC comes to Rs 5,000/-.

Here is a breakup of the cost:

Sr. Description Rupees
1 Medical Checkup       200.00
2 Wildlife fees   2,000.00
3 Insurance & rescue   2,000.00
4 NOC by ALTOA       800.00
Total   5,000.00

What does the medical test (at SNM) for the Chadar Trek comprise of?

On the third day of arrival, Medical test is conducted by SNM doctors. The Permit will be issued to each trekker only after producing the medical certificate.

The two essential things the doctors check are:

  • Oxygen Level
  • Blood Pressure

Apart from these two they also ask about your medical history like diabetes, Heart disease, etc. to judge if you are fit enough to complete the trek

But the most crucial is the O2 level and Blood Pressure reading. They will clear you only if these are two are reasonable.

Sometimes they may also advise medication if you have a stomach upset or mild fever.

Once you clear the medical test, you go for your insurance and permits.

What is the Chadar Trek temperature?

Chadar Trek temperatures during the day will be -5 to -10 degrees and during the night it will in the range of -15 to -30 degree. These readings may sound scary but it just takes a few days to get acclimatized to these temperatures. If you have layered yourself with warm clothes then you need not worry. During the day you are walking so you will be warm and during the night you will be safe in your tent and sleeping bags.

How much we have to trek each day?

On each day of the trek, the trekking distance is roughly 10-12 Km and it takes around 6-7 hours for an average trekker to cover that distance. Typically our trek is designed in such a way that in spite of the long walks we reach our camp by 4 pm every day.

Is Diamox advisable for Chadar Trek?

Diamox helps in acclimatization at high altitude. It is safe to take Diamox and we have some trekkers who start the dose even before reaching Leh when they depart from their home. In case you haven’t taken Diamox before arriving at Leh, we will check your oxygen level on arrival. If your reading is not regular, then we may advise you to take it before the start day of the trek.

How big are the groups?

Typically our group size is around 15-20 trekkers only so that the entire group can get along very well and have a memorable trek with us.

What things do we need to carry?

Here is a comprehensive list of things to carry for the chadar trek.

  • Backpack (50-60 Ltrs) with Rain Cover
  • Trekking Shoes. (Preferably Quechua Forclaz Hiking Boots)
  • Gumboots (Can be purchased in Leh) – 4 Pairs of Full sleeve shirts/T-Shirt – 2 Pairs of Track Pants
  • 1 Pair of Waterproof Pant
  • 4 Pair of cotton socks.
  • 3 pairs of woolen socks.
  • 1 Full Sleeve Fleece
  • One Down Jacket
  • 1 Wind Jacket
  • 2 Pairs of Thermal Inner
  • 2 Pairs of waterproof hand gloves
  • 2 Pairs woolen Gloves
  • 1 Neck Warmer
  • Sun Cap
  • One Scarf
  • Light towel – Lip Balm – Cold Cream & Sun Screen (SPF 40+)
  • Water Bottle 1 Lt
  • Thermos
  • Headlamp or torch with a fresh pair of batteries
  • Personal Toilet Kit and toilet paper
  • Personal Medicine Kit
  • Dark Sunglasses (U/V protected) – People who were spectacles- Should avoid contact lenses and use photochromatic glasses instead.
  • Walking Stick (At least one)

Can I offload my Backpack?

We expect all trekkers to carry their backpacks. When you are in the mountains you never know what situation you will be in and that is the reason we suggest our trekkers take their backpack.

If for some reason you are unable to carry your backpack, you can off-load the same by paying an additional charge.

Backpack offloading charges are to be paid directly to the porter. The porters are locals from the Zanskar valley and we want them to earn an additional income for themselves. We will connect you the porters to pay the off-loading charge. They usually take Rs 400 – 500 per day. Partial offloading is not allowed. You have to pay for all five days.

Here are the criteria for backpack off-loading

  • The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg.
  • Off-loaded bags will not be suitcases, trolleys or duffel bags. (It should be a trekking backpack)
  • Decide whether or not to off-load your backpack before the start of the trek.

Which type of shoes should I buy?

Good trekking shoes and Gumboots are must for Chadar Trek.

Gum Boots are readily available in Leh market from Army Canteen shops and almost all trekkers to Chadar trek buy them from these shops. They cost between INR 500-900 for a pair depending upon the quality. You may purchase regular trekking shoes from decathlon or any sports store near to you before coming to Leh.

Click here for a complete guide on shoes for chadar Trek

What if a medical emergency arises?

We carry First aid kit and in case of other medical emergencies, the trek leader will arrange for the trekker to reach the nearest road head. A vehicle has to be arranged till Leh to get medical facilities. Additional costs are involved for emergencies and they will be borne by trekker only. Before the trek, it’s your responsibility to get a medical fitness certificate and insurance.

Do you think I should bring some medicines with me?

Yes, you have to bring your medicine kit which includes your routine medicines

How many trekkers will be in one tent?

Due to the extreme temperatures, it is advisable to have three people in one tent for the overnight stay. We use a three-person tent and for couples, it will be a single tent only.

What is the highlight of the Chadar Trek?

The highlight of the trek apart from walking on the frozen Zanskar river are beautiful frozen waterfalls that you will see each day. And in Nerak village, hidden between two hillocks you will see a natural formation of 50 feet frozen waterfall masterpiece which can only be seen to be believed. In past, there were chances of spotting a snow leopards too but not anymore now.

How do I book the Chadar Trek?

We have departure dates every weekend in January and February. Solo trekkers can book it online here with full payment using a credit card or debit card.

For GROUP BOOKINGS you can make part payment and book the trek. Balance amount you pay after reaching in Leh.  Click on the Whatsapp icon to get our bank NEFT details.

You get a payment receipt after the payment is made. You will also get an instant confirmation mail after the booking.

Altitude Adventure India is one of the best Chadar trek organizers in India.

Have more questions? Get answers to all your queries instantly. Message Us by clicking on the Whatsapp icon.

Call us at 91-8879607899

Meet us in Leh at Altitude Adventure India, Fort Road, Ladakh -194104

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