CHADAR TREK | Walking on the frozen River Zanskar in Leh – Ladakh – A Photo Blog

The Chadar Trek Experience 

Chadar Trek – Something that had been on my bucket list for the past three years, has finally been ticked off in 2020 ! And what an experience it was !

So for starters, the whole Chadar Trek Experience if of 8 Days, where you arrive in Leh on Day 1, and head straight to your hotel to rest and acclimatise .

Day 2 also you rest, and possibly stroll around Leh market, and do your shopping for the Chadar Trek. The best place to get all your supplies at the cheapest possible rates is the New Army General Store in the Main Bazar in Leh.

Day 3 you go for the Medical Check up and finish up with the Insurance formalities.

Day 4 you start your Chadar Trek Experience from somewhere between Chilling and Nerak at a place called Bakula, which takes 2-3 hours by road. This day you camp at Shingra Koma, after walking for 2-3 hours.

Day 5 you head towards Tibb Cave from Shingra Koma which takes you around 6-7 hours.

Day 6 you start from Tibb Cave to reach Nerak again taking 6-7 hours.

Day 7 you start your journey back by first walking for 6-7 hours towards Hotong where you camp.

Day 8 you walk the remaining distance all the way back to Bakula taking not more than 5-6 hours, and you are back in Leh by late evening.

However, in our case things went a bit sideways!

We got done with our medical check up and got our Insurance cards on the 12th Jan 2020, and were ready to start the trek on 13th Jan 2020, but as luck would have it, the Chadar Trek got temporary suspended for two days – ie 13th Jan 2020 and 14th Jan 2020, due to bad weather. The situation was such that the river started overflowing at places beyond Tibb Cave, and a lot of trekkers had to be rescued by the Indian Army.

However, we got lucky and the authorities decided to open up the trek on the 15th Jan 2020, and we were off!

The only limitation was that we couldn’t even go beyond the first campsite Shingra Koma, as the clearance was only issued till Shingra Koma – the first main base camp of the Chadar Trek.

Despite knowing this, we started our trek on the 15th Jan 2020, camped for 2 nights in the freezing cold, and were back after ticking off the once in a lifetime experience of walking on the Chadar formed on the frozen Zanskar river on 17th Jan 2020.

While there were plenty of loopholes in the system, for example – the authorities have started charging a mandatory fees which includes the Environmental Fees, the ALTOA fees and the Medical Insurance. However, the authorities have failed to regulate the number of trekkers going for the trek. 

The reality is that in a matter of 1 – 1.5 months, there are 10 to 15 operators running batches every 2-3 days, each comprising of 10-30 trekkers, which ultimately means that, on any day, there are around 100-150 trekkers starting the Chadar Trek. So you can imagine, the heavy footfall on the sensitive Chadar.

Nevertheless, doing the Chadar Trek is a once in a life time experience, which I recommend all the adventure enthusiasts should definitely do, as the whole landscape is so unreal, like straight out of a fairy tale.

So without me taking more of your time, start scrolling down and check out this Photo Blog on the Chadar Trek 2020!

Enroute to Bakula – the starting point of the Chadar Trek
The hues of blue of Zanskar
Driving through landslide prone area
Snowy Road and the Zanskar
And we start the Chadar Trek by first climbing down to reach the Chadar
The Porters – The Backbone of Chadar Trek
View from our first Campsite at Lower Shingra
Gearing up for the trek as the Sun starts to come out on Day 2
When the Chadar doesn’t seem to exist, you find an alternate route through the rocks!
Navigating our way through the rocks
Such a breathtaking view! And can you see the trekkers navigating their way through the rocks to reach a higher ground
Freshly prepared Fried Rice for Lunch – This was indeed a luxury considering the place where we were in
The whole Gang – Strangers turned into Friends
And we see our Campsite at Shingra Koma
The Winter Wonder land
The Chadar Trek Experience | High on Himalayas
The Chadar Experience – Walking on Ice, Slipping and Sliding
The unreal landscapes
Drinking fresh water straight from the Zanskar
On our way back to Bakula
The lone wanderer

If you are not that adventurous but want to explore Ladakh in the Winters, this 5 Day Leh Ladakh in Winters Itinerary would prove to be of help to you. However, if you want to visit Ladakh in the summer months, this 7 Day Leh Ladakh Road Trip Itinerary is your best source of information and inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed scrolling through these pictures, and if you too are interested in ticking off Chadar Trek off your list next year, get in touch with us at and we along with Ladakh Travel Craft will hook you up.

11 Replies to “CHADAR TREK | Walking on the frozen River Zanskar in Leh – Ladakh – A Photo Blog”

  1. 8 days of to trek is just wow! And I feel you on the inconsistencies of those managing the trip I think it happens anywhere especially if the activity is quiet a popular one. Good thing you did not lose hope when the trek trail was suspended for 2 days.

  2. Like you, this one is high on my list of things to do. And yes, I agree, it requires quite a lot of courage and endurance. I loved reading through your experience. Of where there was no chadar and u find new roads or the fact that you could drink straight from the zanskar. Well, kind of lived my dream through this journey but I hope I can do it for myself.

  3. Those views are amazing!! I haven’t been on a trek before, but I had never thought about the fact that you’d have to have a medical check and insurance beforehand. That’s good to know in order to prepare. It truly looks lovely!!

  4. Awesome pictures of this Chadar trek. It must be such great adventure. And also making new friends on the way. I would really love to have this experience sometime soon.

  5. Chadar Trek was high on my list too but after hearing stories on how it is affecting locals I have dropped the idea. I think it is good to skip some places for skilled individuals and hikers rather than joining the bandwagon. Beautiful pictures and such a beautiful experience to cherish forever.

  6. Your post brought back my memories of 2014 when I did this trek. The friends that I made during that trek are still in touch. As you said, this trek does require courage and endurance. While the views were grand, I loved the frozen waterfalls the most. Your pictures are stunning and description apt to the point. Now I feel like doing it again.

  7. I have not been for such adventurous and beautiful trek before but would love to do one day. I loved your 8 days itinerary and it is very helpful too. It is good that due to bad weather and overflowing river, your trek was suspended for couple of days which shows that safety of trekkers are also considered by authorities. Enroute to Bakula which is the starting point of the Chadar Trek is really stunning. Freshly prepared Fried Rice for Lunch with view of stunning snow capped mountains look would be your best meals.

  8. Hi Arnav, thanks for sharing your experience at Chadar Trek. I have so much wanted to do this trek but I somehow end up traveling elsewhere. The cheapest way to shop from the New Army General Store is a good tip. Your 8 day Itinerary clearly described all the things very nicely, and the photo that you clicked was really mind blowing. Thanks for the lovely blog.

  9. Wow those pictures of chader trek are mind blowing . Looks like you had a adventure for life. Am sure you never wanted those 8days to get over during the trip. This is truly an inspiration for all the travelers out there. Thanks for inspiring us

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