The Magic Of India During Winter
HOW TO GET THERE – Your best option is to fly to Leh, where you can acclimatise before heading off to start the hike. Air India and Jet Airways both fly to Leh with connecting flights in Delhi. Travel time varies between individual flights, but you are looking at roughly 17 hours on the way out and 13 hours on the way back. The journey isn’t too hard on the bank balance though, with return tickets starting at just over £500.
WHEN TO GO – The Chadar Trek is only possible from January to February when the river is completely frozen. Outside of these times, it’s too risky to walk on the ice, and in the summer the river becomes a hotspot for other activities such as rafting.
WHAT TO TAKE – The Chadar Trek will put you through some really tough conditions, so you’re going to need to take a lot of kit to make sure you get through it. You’ll want to take multiple layers for both top and bottom, including base layers, softshell trousers, fleece bottoms, mid to heavyweight fleece jacket, waterproofs, a down jacket and insulated trousers for evenings. You should also consider insulated walking boots, gaiters, multiple pairs of heavyweight wool socks, liner socks, multiple layers of gloves and headwear. This list is not extensive and you should be prepare for temperatures reaching as low as -35C.
HOW TO DO IT – British tour operator The Mountain Company runs a trip along the Chadar every year lasting 24 days and representing one of the only international commercial operations to the area. Alternatively, there are local operators who will offer the trek, while you could also take on the trek yourself, though we thoroughly recommend you seek out local knowledge or employ a local guide for your own safety.
VISAS – To visit India you will need to apply for a visa. British citizens can expect to pay approximately £102 fora traditional visa which allows you to stay in the country for up to 180 days per entrance. There is also now the option to apply for an e-visa online for just £39 (plus a small admin fee) which simplifies the process as well as being cheaper.
VACCINATIONS – When visiting India you also need to take into account any medical considerations. For India, you will want to make sure you have all primary courses and boosters up to date for British life, and it is also recommended that you get vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. Other vaccines you may want to consider include cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies.
MAPS – Take a look at Ladakh and Zanskar Centre (1:150,000) by Editions Olizane. Maps of the northern and southern parts of Ladakh and Zanskar are also available.