The chadar trek - HIMALAYA photography tour

jan 15-jan 28, 2018

$4,450 (per person, based on double occupancy)

Ladakh is part of Jammu Kashmir and it is frequently referred to as the "Switzerland of Asia."

The hike on the frozen Zanskar River follows a spectacular route traveled by the people of the Zanskar valley for hundreds of years. This route was their only contact with the outside world for trade during the 8-month-long winter.

Ladakh is famed for its high passes, brackish water lakes, a stunning lunar-like landscape, a Buddhist culture warped in time, deep blue endless skies, and a landscape that is larger than life. It is an adventure-seeker's paradise. Many have said Ladakh is the most beautiful place in the world, but we seek a beauty even more surreal and attempt one of the most celebrated, difficult and exquisite treks of the region.

We will walk on a frozen river bed, camp near caves along the way and encounter cold and altitude to get the unique Chadar experience.

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  • Unique experience of trekking on the frozen Zanskar river
  • Amazing scenery, wild gorges and frozen waterfalls
  • Countryside trekking hospitality at its best

Itinerary overview

Day 01: Arrival in Leh
Day 02: Leh sightseeing
Day 03: Drive to Tilat Sumdo; Trek to Bakula Caves
Day 04: Bakula Caves- Paldar Sumdo
Day 05: Paldar Sumdo - Dibyokma
Day 06: Dibyokma – Nerak Pullu
Day 07: Nerak Pullu – Lingshed
Day 08: Lingshed rest day
Day 09: Lingshed - Nerak Pullu
Day 10: NerakPullu to Dibyokma
Day 11: Dibyokma – Paldar Sumdo
Day 12: Paldar Sumdo - Tilat Sumdo; Drive to Leh
Day 13: Explore Khardungla and leh town
Day 14: Final departure

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Day 1: Arrival in Leh (3500m/11,484 ft.)

Report to the hotel by 12.00 noon. The day is spent resting at the hotel and a leisurely orientation walk in the evening in Leh market. To aid acclimatization it is necessary to have plenty of water along with rest. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.

Day 2: Leh sightseeing

This day is for taking in the sights of Leh and to use this as an opportunity to acclimatize further. We visit Thiksey Monastery (one of the most visited and photogenic monastery in Ladakh which houses one of the largest Buddha statue, the 40 ft. tall Maitreya, the Buddha of Future) and Stok Palace (the place where the current royal family lives). Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.

Day 3: Drive to Tilat Sumdo (63 km.; 1½ hrs); Trek to Bakula Caves (3180m/10,434 ft.; 2 ½ hrs)

After breakfast we drive to Tilat Sumdo. Just before Tilat Sumdo is Chilling, one of the most famous villages in Ladakh and known as a center for crafts, especially for its metalwork. In the afternoon meet your trekking crew and prepare for the trek. After lunch start our trek from Tilat Sumdo to Bakula Caves which is 2 ½ hrs, along the frozen river.

Over the next few days we will traverse a landscape of frozen waterfalls where the harsh winters have preserved the traditions and cultures of the local people in a frozen Shangri-La. The Zanskar Valley is the most isolated of the Trans-Himalaya valleys and that true sense of remoteness will become all the more evident as we approach our camp. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Bakula Caves.

Day 4: Bakula Caves – Paldar Sumdo (3220m/10,565 ft.; 6–7 hrs)

After breakfast, we trek 6-7 hrs, to reach Paldar Sumdo. We trek along the edges of the frozen river, through a narrow mountain gorge. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Paldar Sumdo.

Day 5: Paldar Sumdo – Dibyokma (3000m/9843 ft.; 4–5 hrs)

Post breakfast we start our journey towards Dibyokma it will take us around 4-5 hrs of walking. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Dibyokma.

Day 6: Dibyokma – Nerak Pullu (3800m/12,468 ft.; 5–6 hrs)

We head back to the river and walk along a canyon. A trek of 5-6 hrs through tremendous canyons which is inaccessible in any other season, leads us to Nerak Pullu. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Nerak Pullu.

Day 7: NerakPullu to Lingshed (3800 m / 12468 ft; 6–7 hrs)

We leave the river after an hour today, to follow a narrow gorge to Lingshed village. Around Nerak is probably the most dangerous area on the Chadar, but this is not the only reason we leave earlier then normal. After up to two hours of trekking we turn off the river, and start following a side stream up a valley which shows so many ibex and blue sheep trails it seems hard to believe. We are going higher today, and you will feel it. Add fresh snow, and it will be harder still. On arrival stay in a guesthouse/ camp.

Day 8: Rest day at Lingshed

Day 9: Lingshed to NerakPullu (3000 m / 9843 ft; 5 hrs)

The return journey starts and we retrace our steps to NerakPullu leaving the poignant beauty of the monastery, children behind and carrying the memories with us. Along the way we bid adieu to the ibex and blue ship and reach NerakPullu.

Day 10: Nerak Pullu – Dibyokma (4–5 hrs)

We walk back to Dibyokma. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Dibyokma.

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Day 11: Dibyokma – Paldar Sumdo (4–5 hrs)

We walk further to Paldar Sumdo. Dinner and overnight stay at camp in Paldar Sumdo.

Day 12: Paldar Sumdo – Tilat Sumdo (6–7 hrs); Drive to Leh (63 km.; 1½ hrs)

Our last day and we walk to Tilat Sumdo to the road head. We cross the familiar territory our mind filled with the experiences of the last week of walking through this enchanted land. At Tilat Sumdo we get into our waiting vehicles to Leh for a much deserved bath and some good rest in warm cozy rooms. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.

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Day 13: Excursion to Khardungla & back (5602m/18,380 ft.; 37 km; 2 hrs one way)

After breakfast, the group sets off to visit Khardungla pass (5602m/18,380 ft.), the world’s highest motorable pass. The snow clad view of Leh & Nubra valley is to be seen to be believed. After a photography session we return back to Leh. Dinner and overnight stay at hotel in Leh.

Day 14: Final departure

We check out of our hotel before 9.00 am depending upon our flight schedule.

(Photos: Tim Vollmer)


  • Age Group: minimum 18 years completed.
  • Fitness: this trek involves walking for 5-6 hours daily at an average pace. The highest altitude that we attain on this tour is 3500m/11,484 ft. We do not recommend this tour to people with chronic problems like epilepsy and those related to blood pressure or heart or diabetes.
  • Permits & Documents: it’s mandatory that all the participants carry a valid photo id / passport for issuance of permits and 02 passport size photographs.
  • Baggage & Porters: you can hire a porter so that he can walk along with him, then an extra porter can be arranged on the spot for which the client must make an extra payment.
  • Temperature: day temperatures average minus 13 ºC (8 °F) and at night it can drop to minus 30 ºC (-22 °F). Temperatures can vary a lot depending on the season and altitude.
  • Travel: All the Delhi – Leh flights are scheduled in the early morning hours hence it is advisable to fly to Delhi a day in advance.

PRICE: $4,450

  • Per person in double occupancy room
  • $450 additional for single room accommodation

price includes

  • Transfer from/to airport upon arrival and departure
  • All accommodations
    • In Leh: In a classic category hotel on twin sharing basis
    • On the trek: In a camping tent on twin sharing basis
    • Note: the rooms at Hotel Mahey are centrally heated with running hot water.
  • Your duffel bag will be carried for you during the trek
  • Warm sleeping bag & sleeping pad on the trek
  • Private transportation
  • Complimentary sack, cap and duffel bag
  • Monument visit fees
  • Chaddar entry permit fee
  • Necessary porterage and camping equipment on the trek
  • Hire charges for sleeping bags
  • One experienced Tour Leader and full-time, English-speaking local guide(s)
  • Professional photographer guides Chris Marquardt and Tim Vollmer

price does not include

  • Flights/transportation to and from Leh
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Any kind of insurance such as accident, theft, medical, evacuation, etc.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, camera or video fees at any sites etc.
  • Camera fees
  • Tips to porters, camping team, driver, guide, etc.
  • Any extra costs incurred due to extension/change of the itinerary, because of natural calamities, flight delays, road blocks, vehicle breakdown etc. factors beyond our control
  • What is not mentioned as included



January 15-28, 2018




$450 (single participants must book a single supplement on this particular tour)


Ladakh, India



Tilat Sumdo

Bakula Caves

Paldar Sumdo


Nerak Pullu




Paldar Sumdo

Tilat Sumdo

Explore Khardungla


Field instruction

Class instruction

One-on-one critiques

Photographic themes







Photography instructor: Tim Vollmer

Photography instructor: Chris Marquardt

Photography instructor: Chris Marquardt

Tim has everything. He has the knowledge, the eye, the patience. He is an amazing photographer, one of the best I know. A great person and professional photographer. Highly recommended him - he is just amazing.
— Sharon Hahn