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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Frozen River Trek of Ladakh

It is that time of the year when the world rushes to the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh in India in spite of it being extremely cold and hostile. Temperatures can drop to as low as minus 35 degree Celsius and oxygen levels can be abysmally low due to lack of any green living matter. Now, you might think, ‘Why do people want to travel here in such hostile weather’. The reason is one of nature’s best spectacles and experiences, wherein, you get to walk on a frozen river and experience a cold and icy atmosphere.

Crossing the hanging bridge that spans the Zanskar river
The Zanskar river that flows through one of the remotest regions on the planet freezes every year from around the 3rd week of January to the 2nd week of February. Historically, this was the time of the year when the people living in the remote villages of the Zanskar region used to walk on the frozen Zanskar river to collect supplies from Leh. What was historically a path for survival is quickly turning into a adventure sport where a lot of tourists are interested in trekking two to three weeks on the frozen river.

This stretch of the Zanskar river has completely frozen
The trek begins at Padum, one of the larger villages in the Zanskar valley and ends at Chilling, where the road connectivity to Leh begins. The frozen river trek can take any where from between 15 to 22 days depending on prevailing weather conditions. Since, the treks take place in testing circumstances, one has to be decently fit to embark on this journey. A lot of trekking outfits provide packages for the frozen river trek. Such packages include most of the gear, insurance, guide, food, tents, et al.

The amazingly picturesque Zanskar Valley - one of the remotest places on earth
If you are young, decently fit and have a streak of adventure in you, then this is one trip you have to undertake. It is rarely that you get to live in a world of white, walk amidst towers of ice, walk on ice and live (eat and sleep) on ice. And once you finish this trek, you can also go on a Leh Ladakh tour to see a different side of Ladakh and so unlike from the summer months.

Spectacular Zanskar valley
If this trek is not your thing, but you want to explore the other side of Ladakh, look up the other options you have at Ladakh Tourism.



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