Chara, IndiaEver pictured yourself in heaven? Doesn’t everything look quite all around you, signaling peace and tranquility? Chadar Trek is an experience which takes you closest to heaven while you are still alive. This trek takes you on the frozen Zanskar River. All you can see is sheet of white ice all around you, frozen waterfalls, and rocky terrain which beckons you with challenges.
If the explorer is beckoning inside you to go to roads less travelled, Chadar Trek is what might excite your soul.
It is not a trek for everybody
Chadar Trek is not meant for everybody. Only if you have done several treks in Ladakh before, including some high altitude ones, should you embark on this trek. You have to pass through the remote Zanskar Valley, in temperatures well below the freezing point. That can be asking a lot from your body.
And you can never be sure that the sheet of ice will be uniform at all the places during the trek.
The trek can involve a lot of rock climbing to avoid thin sheet of ice that could be dangerous to walk on.
Undertake this trek only if you are sure you can withstand tough weather conditions for almost two weeks.
You get to stay in caves, and experience the life of Zanskaris
If you are awed by the impossible weather conditions that prevail in this place for almost three months, you need to be. Local residents of Zanskar Valley brave the tough weather conditions every year in the months of January and February. In fact, the frozen Zanskar River is their only route out of the valley, since the mountain passes are closed due to heavy snowfall.
Watching them make their way through the frozen river nonchalantly makes you wonder about the abilities of human race that most of us fail to tap into.
The Chadar Trek lets you experience what local Zanskaris experience every year. During the course of the trek, you get to stay in caves dating back to thousands of years ago. You also get to enjoy the hospitality of people of Zanskar as you stay in their homes during the trek.
Don’t forget to come prepared
When you are embarking on this trek, you need to come well prepared in all respects. You need to be in the best of your health, since a little illness can become a big issue in these harsh weather conditions. Make sure you carry a lot of warm clothing with you, apart from the best quality of trekking equipment.
Get trekking shoes with a good grip, since you will be walking on ice. And do get some climbing gear with you.
While on this trek, you need to be prepared for cuts and bruises too. There are quite a few stretches of rocky terrain you will encounter on your way, which can give you a rough experience. Make sure you have a first aid kit with you to take care of minor injuries.
Respect the local customs of the place
While you are travelling though the mesmerizing frozen Zanskar River, you will come across quote a few monasteries of Ladekh. Feel free to visit these monasteries, but make sure you respect the local customs of the place.
The freezing temperatures are enough to discourage you to wear anything skimpy, but even if you feel the urge, don’t wear anything too revealing while entering monuments of religious importance.
While inside the monasteries, make sure you do not turn your back on the Buddha, or disturb the monks during prayers, as it is considered disrespectful.
Don’t forget to thank the porters and the cook
Your guide is an important part of this trek, who guides you through the various difficulties and challenges. But porters and the cook who travel with you all along are the life saviors of this trek. The porters take care of your luggage, reducing your load, as you make your way through the frozen river. And the local cook can produce some really delicious recipes to give you energy after a tiring day of trek.
Talking of food, do make it a point to carry some protein bars and lot of water with you while on this trek. It will help you on days when you are feeling low or nauseating because of the height or low temperatures.
And keep your cameras on the ready
Each segment of the Chadar Trek is different, and you simply cannot get enough of this place. Make sure you have your cameras on the ready throughout the trek, for you can come across some delightful photo-ops at any point during this awe-inspiring journey.
This is a guest post from Divij Pasrija.