by Zara Jones,
Ladakh has become an extremely popular tourist destination among tourists. It may appear surprising indeed because Ladakh is not very well connected even with the rest of India leave aside the world at large. The winters are harsh and summers are not exactly warm either. But it is this harsh weather that has become the biggest boon for Ladakh tourism. Tourism is flourishing here because the sight of nature in its full bloom is a rarity in the modern world. Imagine gliding or trekking on such virgin territory; does that not sound like sheer pleasure?
The charms of Ladakh are immense: steep valleys, gorgeous views of snow cloaked mountains, a clear bright blue sky and several varieties of animals and birds welcome a tourist when he descends here. Among several beautiful views that Ladakh offers, there is one that can clearly be given the Numero Uno status and that is: site of Frozen River Trek. Frozen River Trek or Zanskar Chadar trek is the epitome of trekking adventure in Ladakh. This trek, standing at an altitude of 3850 meters above the sea level, is named thus, because it is actually a frozen river, named Zanskar that trekkers need to trek on! The Zanskar Chadar trek is usually undertaken during the month of January and February when this river is enveloped by snow and ice that hardens the water surface and allows trekkers to trek along. The temperature during winters is as low as -30 degrees at nights and -6 degrees during days.
In ancient times when traders needed to trade, this river route was used by them, hence, the popularity and usage of frozen river trek is time immemorial. The Zanskar Chadar trek helps connect villages in Zanskar valley with Chilling when snow makes trading difficult from any other route. Hence, even today this trek is used not just by trekkers but by locals too. The frozen river trek may look exotic and tempting for a trekker while trying trekking adventure in Ladakh but it must be kept in mind that this trek is strenuous and requires good fitness level because the cold gushing wind and slippery ice would make trekking difficult.
The depth and thickness of ice can be ascertained by a trekker by the sound and echo that his footsteps make when he treks on Zanskar Chadar trek. Therefore, tourists on Zanskar Chadar trek are often advised to keep their steps shorter (more like baby steps) and low so as to avoid any danger of breaking crust of ice. Another important precaution is to carry water in plastic bottles (it does not freeze that ways) and drinking it at regular intervals. This helps in regulating body temperature in biting cold. If these conditions are kept in mind then in all probability this trek would be one enjoyable adventure.
Beside the novelty of trekking on a frozen river, there are several other attractions too. Like the sighting of paw marks in snow is the indication that a snow leopard, yak or some other shy wild animal just crossed the same stretch. Other major attractions include the sightings of frozen waterfalls and icicles hanging from low boulders that reflect sunshine and glisten like diamonds.
But the real icing on the cake has to be the chance to see and observe ethnic people of Ladakh and their culture that has remained untouched by the overt commercialization and modernization till now. This small interaction with these nice and ever smiling people would be the best memory to take back home. Thus, to say that trying Zanskar Chadar trek is also an opportunity to see humanity in its most undiluted form is not an understatement. Try this trekking adventure in Ladakh if such an adventure is what the heart desires too.