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Arrive at Leh
The moment you land at the Leh airport, you will feel the fresh and crisp air, and a drastic drop in the temperature.
Taking a stroll through the Leh market, you will find that very few shops and eateries in the town are open for business.
The night is spent in a cozy guest house.
Tilad Do via Chilling from Leh
Enjoy the cultural and natural beauty of Leh. This can be considered as a day to get familiar with the town and also acclimatize to the weather.
Further, the roller-coaster ride takes you along the Indus to the village of Nimu, where Zanskar converges into Indus.
After stopping at this confluence point to take in the view, the drive continues and the road begins descending right into the river valley.
To reach the camp-site, you have to cross the frozen Zanskar and this is when you take your first steps on the Chadar.
It takes a while to get a hang of walking on the ice sheet. To get some exercise and keep warm, you can climb up the nearby mountains and get a good look at the frozen river.
As the sun sets, temperatures plummet, retire for the night.
Tilad Do to Gyalpo
Today is a long walking session, about 12 km, on the Chadar.
The trek leaders give a briefing about the day, and give tips on how to walk on the Chadar. It can be a cold and hard surface of slippery ice, or it can have a dusting of snow over it, providing a good grip. Eventually you get used to walking on the Chadar, which looks like a cross between gliding and skating.
Mid way to Gyalpo, the porter-cum- cooks prepare hot bowlfuls of soupy noodles for lunch.
After passing Shingra Koma, you reach the camp-site for the day at Gyalpo, where the tents have already been pitched by the porters.
The Gyalpo campsite is at a bend in the river, surrounded by high peaks and walls of rock-faces which almost look man-made.
All that is left to do is to soak in the views, have an early dinner and call it a day.
Gyalpo to Tibb Cave
This day follows the same early morning routine: bed tea at 7, breakfast at 8, and quick-march at 8:30.
Have a good breakfast, as today is the longest walk of the day almost 14 km.
But that is nothing to worry about, all the walking keeps you incredibly warm.
Today’s walk through the deep ravines of the Zanskar is stunning.
The sublime walls of the mountains on either sides of the river keep the sunlight away from the Chadar for most part of the day.
There are numerous caves in these mountains, big and small.
Today is the day when you can see frozen waterfalls, some higher than the others.
At Tibb, there is a big cave. This cave is the dwelling of all the porters, and they welcome you warm-heartedly in here.
The highlight of the day is to share a cup of butter-tea with them!
Tibb Cave to Naerak
Today is the most spectacular of all days on this trek.
Walking on the river you cross deep gorges and reach a point where Juniper trees are covered with prayer flags.
The porters give you a twig of this tree tied with a piece of prayer flag as a badge of good- luck and good-health.
A few steps away stands the mother-of- all frozen waterfalls a huge instance of suspended animation several feet tall and equally wide.
You can see dozens of colors in this enormous ice structure as sunlight plays off its surface.
Right next to the waterfall is a bridge across the river which is a part of the summer-time road from Zanskar to Leh.
The Naerak village lies several feet above the river, a vigorous hour-long trek can take you to the village if you want to see the life of a Zanskari.
The camp is set up close to the river.
Naerak to Tibb
Today you start the return journey and go back to the Tibb cave. And if you thought that it was just a matter of retracing your steps back to Chilling, you can think again.
On the way, you can meet a lot of locals wearing their traditional woolen Gonchas some of them monks who are hiking from the Lingshed Monastery to Leh, some of them young students accompanied by their parents returning to their schools in Leh after the winter vacation.
Watching the locals negotiate the Chadar is a fascinating sight. They are suitably adept to the climate and seem very much at home in the sub-zero temperature and the biting cold winds.
Nothing wipes the smiles off their faces and dampens the warmth of their spirit.
Tibb to Gyalpo
Starting from Tibb, go up to Gyalpo today.
The high walls of mountains rising from the sides of the river almost look like castle walls.
You can see several trails of pug-marks all along the trek footprints belonging to foxes, ibex or snow-leopards.
You would be lucky to view a snow-leopard; but you can almost be sure that you are being watched by one all the time.
Gyalpo to Tilad Do, and drive back to Leh
This is the last day of treading on the Chadar the last chance to immerse in the pristine beauty of the frozen river.
Once you reach Tilad Do, it is time to say good-bye to the Zanskar and the Zanskaries.
Tonight you get to sleep in a warm guest-house again at Leh.
Leh to Delhi
Today will be your last day in Leh! With a heavy heart we bid a goodbye.
After breakfast, depart for an early morning flight to Delhi. Chadar trek ends here.
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