Planning to do Chadar Trek in 2021 – Here is why you should avoid it

Chadar Trek went popular among the casual trekking crowd somewhere during 2014. Walking on the ice sheet of a frozen river sounds exciting because there is danger involved. Since the trek became popular, it has seen a number of issues rising along with it.

If you are planning to do Chadar Trek in 2021, then it is better that you should avoid it because it is not only harming the environment but is also hazardous to life.

Ice Sheet Not Forming Properly due to Global Warming

798px-Chadar_trek
Photo via – Wikipedia Commons

Ladakh is on the centre of global warming. Glaciers are melting, rainfall has increased in this cold dry desert and snow season has become more unpredictable.

The effect is seen in Zanskar as year by year the Ice Sheet over the frozen river has become thinner and thinner. Landslides and sudden ice breakage has become common incidents in this area.

Thinner ice sheet is not safe for walking and doesn’t matter what trek companies will tell you, Chadar Trek is now highly accident prone.

Read More – Chadar, India: The end of the Ice Road

The ice is breaking

Misinformation by travel companies and influencers

Chadar trek
Photo via – Wikipedia Commons

Trek companies in order to lure more and more trekkers (considering that this trek will not exist in a few years) have been spreading misinformation about the trek. Bloggers and influencers who visit this trek on sponsorship also present the scene as if anyone can do it.

As a result, the last few years have seen inexperienced trekkers on Chadar trek. Many come here with the belief that with super costly trek gear they’ll be able to complete the route.

Chadar trek is not as easy as it seems to be.

  • Temperature of Zanskar goes down to -30 in the night. This means issues like hypothermia, nose bleed, headaches and fever are common.
  • Walking on the ice sheet needs years of trek experience. Yet trek companies try to finish the whole itinerary in 5 days. While it seems easy for the trekkers when they are there, the effects start to show up after a few days when trek is over.
  • Climate change has brought monsoon in this region. What essentially was a dry desert, is now facing threats of unpredicted rainfalls. This makes walking in this region much more difficult than it used to be in the past.

Misinformation about Chadar Trek is blatant. The call to take a risk and not understanding the difference between adventure and stupidity is what brings most of the inexperienced trekkers here.

Read More – Chadar trek in Leh: Worst for nature

Ban on Ladakh’s Chadar ice trek after landslide blocks river

Destruction of an old route

Porters_are_collecting_drift_wood_for_fire_on_chadar
Photo via – Wikipedia Commons

Frozen Zanskar Trek is an old route that is used by the villagers living on the riverbanks. They walk to the mainland using this ice sheet because their villages are not connected with roads. If the ice sheet is destroyed, their only means of commute will be gone.

Chadar Trek is not only irresponsible but unfair to those who use the route not for fun but to access the mainland and bring back the important goods back to the village. If Chadar is gone, these villagers will be stuck in their villages and will be forced to move to the mainland or live in cities.

Read More – The Melting Ice Road of Zanskar

Blatant ignorance of environmental rules

The trek companies that conduct Chadar Trek blatantly ignore rules and regulations prescribed by the authorities. Taking more trekkers than allowed, digging multiple toilet holes and allowing trekkers to take a dip in the water are just a few of the irresponsible and dangerous acts that should not happen in the first place.

While Ladakh tourism and trekking associations have directed the trekkers for a medical check-up and only after clearance, they will be allowed on the trek. But it seems that the process has its own loopholes as more and more trekkers are being allowed on the trek that is ruining the environment of the place.

Here are some of the reports from this year and the past ones. You can yourself figure out the issue and decide if the trek is worth going or not.

71 trekkers rescued from Chadar Trek on Jan 16 2020

IAF rescues 107 trekkers on Chadar trek in Ladakh

Chadar Trek: 41 trekkers rescued; temporary shutdown of Ladakh’s famous trek

Zanskar’s River Chadar breaks: Eight Trekkers rescued with difficulty

Trekker dies of cardiac arrest during Chadar

Mumbai Engineer Slips Into Icy River In Ladakh, Saved By Air Force  

7 thoughts on “Planning to do Chadar Trek in 2021 – Here is why you should avoid it

Add yours

  1. This beautiful area surely needs to be protected from irresponsible exploitation from trek companies and tourists. I myself wouldn’t have known about this issue had I not found your blog. More and more people should read this!

  2. I’ve actually never heard of Chadar Trek but definitely appreciate the value of responsible travel! It’s a shame people aren’t doing their proper research before visiting. It’s so beautiful to ruin my overtourism. Thanks for shedding light on this important issue!

  3. This is sad indeed. The state should step in and regulate all this activity, people will never do it by themselves. As for bloggers glorifying everything without thinking the consequences; don’t let me get started.

  4. I had never heard of the Chedar Trek before reading your post but I can see why influencers might be drawn to it. I can also see why people might even think that they’re helping to draw attention to the issue of global warming by doing it, but clearly the damage they’re causing and the danger they’re putting themselves in is not worth any publicity they may get from it. I love when bloggers use their platforms to advocate for change. Kudos to you for doing that.

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