Saturday, April 20, 2024

A Trek to Frozen River: Chadar Trek

One of the most thrilling and adventurous treks in Ladakh is the Chadar trek. This trek is one of the most difficult treks and you need to be mentally and physically prepared for the challenges that lie ahead but the breathtaking scenes of nature will motivate you to fight all the challenges and complete this trek easily. This trek is done on the Zanskar river which freezes because of cold and becomes a sheet of thick ice called chadar. Such a trek can be overcome with the right preparation. Here’s a detailed guide for the Chadar trek. 

Chadar trek Route 

Starting from Chilling, the trek winds its way through towering gorges, frozen waterfalls, and icy cliffs, covering approximately 105 kilometers. Trekkers navigate the challenging frozen surface, witnessing the stark beauty of the Himalayas. The journey culminates in the ancient village of Nerak, offering a unique and demanding adventure amidst the winter wonderland of Ladakh.

Difficulty level of chadar trek 

The Chadar trek is one of the most difficult treks in the Indian Himalayas located in Leh Ladakh. It is not just a simple walk on the sheet of ice, it can be challenging to walk on the slippery platform in the chilling weather. It is just a myth that the Zanskar River freezes completely. While walking on the trail you need to be careful as the trails break down in some areas causing holes in the trails, you might dip your feet in the chilling water. You need to be prepared mentally and physically to go on this trek. The cold weather makes it much more difficult for the trekkers to complete it. 

Best time for chadar trek 

Trekking in January:

The suitable time for the Chadar trek is in January as the temperature drops down to negative which forms a thick sheet of ice but you should wait till mid-January because at the beginning of the month, the ice sheet is not so thick and it will not be able to hold your weight. The ideal time for planning for the trek is mid-January so that you can enjoy your trek and create some memorable moments.

Trekking and february:

The Zanskar River freezes completely at the beginning of the month which makes it the best time to plan a trek. This is one of the toughest treks in India, the temperature ranges between -5 degrees Celsius to -25 degrees Celsius this fluctuation causes broken trails which can be dangerous while trekking.

Do not plan a trek at the end of february because at this time the snow starts to melt and the sheet is not so thick it can hold your weight. 

Do remember you have a skilling guide by your side otherwise, it can be difficult to walk on the frozen river.

The average temperature during night and day

During the day time, the temperature ranges between -5 degrees Celsius to -15 degrees Celsius which drops to -25 degrees Celcius during the night time. Due to this fluctuation, the ice sheet on the Zanskar River melts in some places which causes broken trails but it refreezes at night. 

The Chadar trek is one of the most difficult winter treks so make sure you have an experienced guide by your side and carry all the essential equipment. You need to be prepared physically and mentally for any kind of difficulty. 

Things to keep in mind while going on the Chadar trek 

1. Unpredictable weather:

 The Chadar trek is one of the world’s most challenging and unpredictable treks. The weather there keeps changing, making it difficult for trekkers to predict the condition of the ice sheet (chadar). The temperature ranges from -5 to -10 degrees Celsius in January and february. The temperature goes down to – 20 to -25 degrees at night, this fluctuation in temperature sometimes results in broken trails, which can be dangerous for trekkers, as there are chances that you might dip your feet in numbing cold water. It is just a myth that the whole river is frozen at the same time. 

2. Carry essential safety gear:

During chadar trekking, it is also important to make sure that you are equipped with all the right safety equipment to ensure that you have a safe trekking experience. You should carry the required sleeping bags, trekking shoes, warm clothes, and other trekking equipment which is necessary to provide a safe trekking trip. 

3. Select your trip organizer wisely: 

For the Chadar Trek, you need to choose the organizer of the trek carefully. The cases where trekkers complain due to lack of safety, guidance, and lack of proper information are quite common. The Chadar trek is one of the most difficult treks, requiring proper guidance and safety measures. 

4. Be aware of all the challenges: 

People see Chadar Trek as a walk on a thick ice sheet and can do it effortlessly. However, it is not so, The chadar trek is not just a normal trek in which a person has to walk over a sheet of ice. The unpredictable weather makes Chadar trek one of the most challenging treks. The rise and fall of the temperature leads to broken routes, which poses a danger for the trekkers to complete the trek.

How is camping on the Chadar trek?

Camping during the Chadar Trek is an essential part of this adventure, providing a fantastic experience amidst frozen landscapes in Ladakh. Trekking through the Zanskar River gorge, campers erect tents on the icy floor each night. These camping grounds, enveloped by giant snow-capped cliffs create a bizarre landscape. Campfires under the starlit Himalayan sky create an additional charm despite the extreme chill. In addition to shelter, camping equipment should be durable and able to withstand cold temperatures; this way there is always a comfortable haven after each day’s thrilling crossing over the river which freezes in winter. The camping component adds to the adventure and contact with unspoiled nature.


In a nutshell, the Chadar trek is one of the most challenging yet beautiful treks in the Indian Himalayas, you can have the best time of your life going on this unique trek. You must be well prepared physically and mentally before going on the trek. Walking on a frozen sheet of ice is just a lifetime experience. 


Devendra Singh is a Digital Marketing expert and also a blogger. He has experience in the content marketing on different verticals and operates his guest blogging website