Ladakh is part of Jammu Kashmir and it is frequently referred to as the "Switzerland of Asia" - actually "there is no place like the serene Ladakh in Switzerland... correction, anywhere else on Earth." (Vishal Mungi).
The hike on the frozen Zanskar River follows a spectacular route patronized by the people of the Zanskar valley for hundreds of years. This was their only contact with the outside world for trade during the 8 months long winter.
Ladakh is famed for its high passes, brackish water lakes, a stunning lunar-like landscape, a Buddhist culture warped in time, deep blue endless skies, and a landscape that is larger than life. (Did we mention "Switzerland of Asia"?) It is an adventure-seeker's paradise. Many have said Ladakh is the most beautiful place in the world, but we seek a beauty even more surreal and attempt one of the most celebrated, difficult and exquisite treks of the region. We will walk on a frozen river bed, camp near caves along the way and encounter cold and altitude to get the unique Chaddar experience.
Day 01: Arrival in Leh
Day 02: Leh sightseeing
Day 03: Drive to Tilat Sumdo; Trek to Bakula Caves
Day 04: Bakula Caves- Paldar Sumdo
Day 05: Paldar Sumdo - Dibyokma
Day 06: Dibyokma – Nerak Pullu
Day 07: Nerak Pullu – Lingshed
Day 08: Lingshed rest day
Day 09: Lingshed - Nerak Pullu
Day 10: NerakPullu to Dibyokma
Day 11: Dibyokma – Paldar Sumdo
Day 12: Paldar Sumdo - Tilat Sumdo; Drive to Leh
Day 13: Explore Khardungla and leh town
Day 14: Final departure
Report to the hotel by 12.00 noon. The day is spent resting at the hotel and a leisurely orientation walk in the evening in Leh market. To aid acclimatization it is necessary to have plenty of water along with rest. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
This day is for taking in the sights of Leh and to use this as an opportunity to acclimatize further. We visit Thiksey Monastery (one of the most visited and photogenic monastery in Ladakh which houses one of the largest Buddha statue, the 40 ft. tall Maitreya, the Buddha of Future) and Stok Palace (the place where the current royal family lives). Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
After breakfast we drive to Tilat Sumdo. Just before Tilat Sumdo is Chilling, one of the most famous villages in Ladakh and known as a center for crafts, especially for its metalwork. In the afternoon meet your trekking crew and prepare for the trek. After lunch start our trek from Tilat Sumdo to Bakula Caves which is 2 ½ hrs, along the frozen river.
Over the next few days we will traverse a landscape of frozen waterfalls where the harsh winters have preserved the traditions and cultures of the local people in a frozen Shangri-La. The Zanskar Valley is the most isolated of the Trans-Himalaya valleys and that true sense of remoteness will become all the more evident as we approach our camp. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Bakula Caves.
After breakfast, we trek 6-7 hrs, to reach Paldar Sumdo. We trek along the edges of the frozen river, through a narrow mountain gorge. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Paldar Sumdo.
Post breakfast we start our journey towards Dibyokma it will take us around 4-5 hrs of walking. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Dibyokma.
We head back to the river and walk along a canyon. A trek of 5-6 hrs through tremendous canyons which is inaccessible in any other season, leads us to Nerak Pullu. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Nerak Pullu.
We leave the river after an hour today, to follow a narrow gorge to Lingshed village. Around Nerak is probably the most dangerous area on the Chadar, but this is not the only reason we leave earlier then normal. After up to two hours of trekking we turn off the river, and start following a side stream up a valley which shows so many ibex and blue sheep trails it seems hard to believe. We are going higher today, and you will feel it. Add fresh snow, and it will be harder still. On arrival stay in a guesthouse/ camp.
The return journey starts and we retrace our steps to NerakPullu leaving the poignant beauty of the monastery, children behind and carrying the memories with us. Along the way we bid adieu to the ibex and blue ship and reach NerakPullu.
We walk back to Dibyokma. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Dibyokma.
We walk further to Paldar Sumdo. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Paldar Sumdo.
Our last day and we walk to Tilat Sumdo to the road head. We cross the familiar territory our mind filled with the experiences of the last week of walking through this enchanted land. At Tilat Sumdo we get into our waiting vehicles to Leh for a much deserved bath and some good rest in warm cozy rooms. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
After breakfast, the group sets off to visit Khardungla pass (5602m/18,380 ft.), the world’s highest motorable pass. The snow clad view of Leh & Nubra valley is to be seen to be believed. After a photography session we return back to Leh. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
We check out of our hotel before 9.00 am depending upon our flight schedule.
(Photos: Tim Vollmer)
We will provide a detailed gear list to you.
Some details of this tour are subject to change, depending on local conditions
The tour begins and ends in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Please organise your own travel to and from Leh. All the flights from Delhi are scheduled in the early morning hours, hence it is advisable to fly to Delhi a day in advance.
$450. Single participants must book single supplement.
(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)
To reserve your spot on the workshop, a non-refundable deposit of EUR 1000 is required. The balance payment is due 6 months before the tour. You will receive a separate invoice for this. Registrations after that date will receive an invoice over the full price. Prices are per person in double accommodation. Single supplement is extra.
Hotel: 4 nights
Camping: 7 nights
Guest House: 2 nights
Author: Chris Marquardt