Zanskar is like no place in India - it remains cut off from almost beginning of November till around June beginning [around 7-8 months in a year]; as of now it gets vehicular access only when the Pensi La opens up thus making the road journey from Padum and nearby places to Kargil possible and beyond then to Leh or Srinagar.
As such this region having an altitude of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet and covering an areas of 7000 sq km remain totally cut off. Zanskar river which takes it form onwards Padum after merging with its different tributaries flows in a north-easterly direction through the dramatic Zanskar gorge and merging with Indus river; the confluence being at Nimmu, just on the outskirts of Leh on the Leh-Kargil road.
As bitter winter comes up in the desolate valley, temperatures plummet and with the river mostly being in a gorge and thus having very little of direct sunlight mostly freezes over during the coldest months of mid January to mid February. Zanskaris since time immemorial, cut off during the winter months, have trekked on this river ice surface to reach Leh for their emergency supplies, education and also for the different winter religious festivals that take place in Leh.
"CHADAR" refers to the blanket or sheet as the Zanskar river transforms itself from a rapid river into a white blanket of ice during winter, a frozen spectacle awaits the trekker to be experienced of glass ice ranging from a bluish tinge to golden yellow that is seen during the few hours that sunlight reaches directly into the gorge to the milky whitish on a moonlit night - as said a trek journey like no other!
ZANSKAR: Zanskar valley lies to the south - west of Leh, surrounded by the Himalaya and Zanskar ranges, which is the most isolated of all the trans - Himalayan Valleys. Zanskar comprises of two main valleys the Stod(Doda Chu) and the Lanak (Tsarap Chu)which coverage below at Padum. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 7 months in the year. All passes close in the winter and the river freeze on the surface. Zanskaris walk along it to reach the Indus River in Nimoo (Chilling village), which is known as the Chadar (frozen blanket) Trek. The geographical isolation has resulted in the preservation of the Buddhist heritage and identity. Many ancient monastic establishments are still actively involve in religious activities some remote caves are believed to have been used by the successive Buddhist saints to sustain meditation in pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.
Arrive by flight and report at Leh. Rest of the day free for acclimatization. Stay over night at the hotel. Get also used to the cold.
Drive from Leh to Chilling and Tilat Sumdo. Today in the morning drive with small brief halt at the magnificent confluence of River Zanskar and Indus and then again a drive to the Chilling, one of the most famous villages in Ladakh, known for craftsmanship, especially the metal works. Touching the Chadar first time, we start the trek for 1-2 hrs along the magnificent frozen river Zanskar till Tilat Sumdo. Overnight in cave/camp/tent.
Also learn the fun way to adjust yourself to Ladakhi Shuffle walk style on the frozen slippery ice of River Zanskar.
Trek from Tilat Sumdo to Tsomo Paldar - 6 hours.
After the breakfast call at 7:30 am and an early departure, the walk on the Chadar has fully started. Hearing the different sounds of Chadar forming and breaking, you will soon get familiar where the Chadar or the ice cover is thick and thin. With a early lunch break in between, we would soon reach the majestic .
Trek from Tsomo Paldar to Dibb - 8 hours. Though today is the longest day of the trek, we pass through some magnificent beautiful waterfalls and frozen ice cliffs on the left - it is like walking through a giant freezer! The walk also crosses through narrow gorges, where the trekker may have to climb briefly on to the rocky river bank. The sharp bends and current of the river breaks the ice in some places. Lunch in between on a flat rocky hill side by the river.
Trek from Dibb to Nyerak Pullu - 7 hrs. Again one of the magnificent days on the Chadar trek. However, the caution being that this can become a difficult if the Chadar is not very firm. The vistas are stunning though as we pass through giant frozen waterfalls, ice cliffs and one may even catch sight of the mountain fox. Nyerak village is located high above. Beyond the bridge that links Nyerak village with Lingshed, small huts mark the summer grazing shelters of the villagers.
Return trek to Leh
Trek from Nyerak to Dibb
Though technically it is the same way back, it is also quite different. The Chadar or the blanket of ice that is forming on the River Zanskar is always changing, breaking up and forming itself again. As the Chadar dynamics are ever changing, the same route and place would look and feel different as the texture and conditions change.
Trek from Tibb to Shingra Koma.
Trek from Shingra Koma to Chilling and drive to Leh. Overnight stay at Guest house.
Return from Leh.
So finally a goodbye and good wishes for your return flight to Leh as you board the early flight back to your home town, and definitely some great memories and a lifetime of an experience to narrate to many a friend and family.
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Day 1: Report at Leh. Acclimatize and over night at guest house.
Day 2: Drive to Chilling [3 hrs]. Trek to Tilat Sumdo camp [1 hr].
Day 3:Trek to Tsomo Paldar [9 km/6 hrs trek].
Day 4: Trek to Dibb [14.5 km/8 hrs trek]
Day 5:Trek to Naerak Pullu [11.5 km/7 hrs trek]
Day 6: Trek from Naerak to Dibb.
Day 7:Trek to Shingra Koma.
Day 8:Trek to Chilling and drive back to Leh.
Day 9:Return from Leh.
Altitude Adventure/Plan Himalayas
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