Chadar Trek is one of the toughest treks in the world and also called The Coldest Trek in the World. It covers the entire Zanskar Valley, which lies in the Himalayan Mountains, forming part of North-West India and Kashmir region, at an altitude of approximately 11,000 feet above sea level. Though it is considered to be one of the toughest treks in the world due to extreme weather conditions, it offers travelers some of the most thrilling experiences in their lifetime.
Why Camping On the Roof of the World?
It’s not every day that you get to experience something as surreal as camping on a frozen river, let alone one that flows through a glacial valley. Chadar Trek is an unique opportunity to do just that. In fact, it’s one of those bucket list things: 100% must-do when traveling to Ladakh. Given its high altitude, it can be really hard for beginners or those with basic fitness levels but if you’re up for it and want an experience like no other, then Chadar trek is for you!
Best Time to Visit Chadar
The trek season starts from mid-February and ends by the end of April, as temperatures climb above zero degrees. However, winter is known for fickle weather conditions and treks are often canceled at short notice due to blizzards. Trekkers who wish to witness a blanket of snow covering Ladakh’s barren landscape opt for winter treks. If you do not wish to face anything below 0 degree Celsius then avoid visiting Ladakh during October and November or between December to March as winters are extremely cold here. Even if you can bear temperature below zero degrees, these months will be completely devoid of any snowfall; only dust storms can be expected during these months along with freezing cold winds throughout the day and night.
How Much Does it Cost?
A big mistake most people make when planning for a trek is not taking cold weather gear seriously. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be on a city tour or camping out in the wild; at some point you will have to face snow, rain, and/or high winds. You need extra clothing even if you think it’s just a short day trip. When choosing outerwear, look for products that are windproof as well as waterproof. Thicker fabrics keep more heat trapped inside your clothes and body. Fleece and wool are particularly effective because they both retain warmth even when wet (which can happen quite easily). Woolen jackets can be found for around $100 USD; waterproof jackets often cost up to $400 USD.
What Equipment Do I Need?
When traveling to Ladakh, you need to bring warm clothing as well as camping and trekking equipment. Start by bringing a sleeping bag rated for 0°C or less. If you are planning on walking around at night, it is also recommended that you bring a sleeping pad; your sleeping bag can be used on top of your pad for added warmth during those cold nights. Also bring a tent (or rent one), but be warned that conditions may not always be suitable for set-up of your tent if heavy snow has fallen. If possible, check with locals or other tourists about whether camping is feasible or not before setting out on your trek.
When Is Chadar Trek Open?
A Chadar trek is one of those once-in-the-lifetime trips. But you’ve got to be prepared—because it’s no joke. You must plan your trip properly and make sure you’re both physically and mentally prepared for what can be a challenging trek. To ensure you have an enjoyable, safe experience, take some time to look over these tips and warnings. If you follow them to a tee, chances are that all will go well for you on your journey through northern India…and afterwards when anyone asks about it!
Tips and Warnings
Your Chadar trek is scheduled to begin at 2:00 am. Since there are no tea houses along your route, and even if there were, they would not be running during freezing temperatures, you will need to carry all your own equipment. Your trekking permit states that at least two support personnel (hired or friends) must accompany you on your journey. However, if you’re an experienced trekker who has come prepared with winter gear, like snowshoes and/or crampons, then feel free to take off on your adventure solo. If you don’t know what any of those things are or why they’re important for winter trekking—don’t fret!