“Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidoteand I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”—Michael Palin said these words during one of his journeys around the world. I am 100 percent sure I was also born with a travel bug that kept itself hidden until I turned 20. The bug now keeps raising its head from time to time, asking me about my futuretravel plans. Truly speaking, I’ve failed to find any other way to pacify this bug than to pack my bags, call some of my friends, and figure out my next journey to some remote, wild region in India.
My last year’s trip to frozen Zanskarriverin Ladakh was one such attempt to pacify my travel bug. This wonderful trek, popularly known as Chadar lake trek, is simply once-in-a-lifetime experience for trekkers, offering them a chance to spend a few days of their life in close proximity to nature.The trek derives its name from the sheet of ice (Chadar in Hindi) that builds up over Zanskar river with freezing of water, and eventually opening up innumerable surprises for the trekkers. Chadar river trek has also featured on several travel magazines and TV channels, including the National Geographic and The Discovery.Walking on a frozen river bed, spending your nights in caves along the way, and fighting the harsh weather conditions are some of the reasons why trekkers rank Chadar trek among the most adventurous treks in India.
I completed my Chadar trek trip with GIO Adventures in Jan 2017, and I must say it was really a wonderfulexperience with these guys.GIO’s 9-day trekking trip starts from the city of Leh (3500 m) and then movestowards Chilling town, followed by a 1-hour hike to Shingra Yokma (3200 m). From Shingra Yokma, the group proceeds towards Shingra Gokma (3350 m), and then to Tibb Cave (3400 m) before finally reaching the village of Naerak (3680 m). Needless to say, having anexperienced guide on this demanding trek is very crucial. Walking over a frozen river is an unforgettable experienced for most of people. It is intimidating too at some points where it becomes difficult to assess the thickness of snow. At many points, we were just walking along a very narrow margin of ice, and looking towards our guide for advice.
The trail route from Tibb Cave to Naerak is one of the most picturesque routes, offering you ample opportunities to capture some of the most wonderful moments of your life in camera. From Day 3 to Day 7, your trekking time varies between 4 to 7 hours, depending on the distance covered and the physical fitness of the trekker. The return journey starts from Naerak, passing through Tibb Cave, Shingra Gokma, Shingra Yokma, and Chilling before finally reaching the city of Leh.
The Chadar river trek is an experience only for those brave hearts who love thrill in life. The trek certainly demands high levels of physical fitness to withstand the extreme weather and trekking conditions. Trekkers also need to have good mental strength to face adversities that might come up any moment on this trip. The tough terrains sometimes shake the confidence of trekker, but if you are able to surpass those moments, this journey turns out to be the most adventurous and enriching experience of your life.