CHADAR TREK-AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME

Chadar trek is one of the glamorous and adventurous trek in india.It is located in the zanskar valley of ladakh,state of jammu and kashmir.During winter when the river froze,connect the zanskar valley with leh.The villagers come to leh to buy the necessary things for living for the rest of the year.The most of the trekkers goes up to narek to see the enormous frozen waterfall.This is around 75km round-trail on the frozen zanskar river.

DSC_1430Now a road is under construction through the side of the river for the round year connectivity.It will help the local Peoples and their life will lot easier.But it’ll also affect the ecosystem of zanskar valley.May be the trekking activity will no longer in recent year.

IDEAL TIME: January and February

TEMPERATURE: Always sub-zero temp.during day-time up to -10 degree and night-time up to -40 degree.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: In view of harsh climate,the trek is moderate grade.Usually the trail is very easy,only walk over the frozen river.But sometimes you have to climb at few places if chadar is not properly form.

FOOD AND STAY: Basic tented accommodation with a very good quality sleeping bag.All camp site has permanent toilet made by govt.

 

DAY 1

We started our journey from leh and it took almost 2 hrs to reach the tilad do camp site via chilling.The name says it all.The narrow winding road along the frozen zanskar made you feel chill through your spine.And for the very first time we set foot on the chadar.It feels really good and adventurous.There are nothing in this barren rouged mountain but the beauty is astonoshing.The clear blue sky,the grey mountain and the white frozen river makes the terrain otherworldly.

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tilad do camp

DAY 2

Today our destination is shingra koma.We are walking like a penguin by sliding the foot because of very slippery chadar.The chadar was very thin initially and one of my friend broke down into the ice-cold water.Disaster like this happen now a days for ill-formed chadar due to global warming.Anyway change all your clothes immediately to prevent hypothermia.                                                                                                                                 There are few frozen waterfall along the trail.We reached the camp site without any further incident.The camp site is at high ground along the river,pretty good but congested.We treked uphill and the view from there is priceless.

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shingra koma camp

DAY 3

Today we have to trek to tibb cave camp site.The terrain is almost same throughout the trek.The trail is through the river gorge surrounded by vertical cliff.Today we faced little difficulty.The chadar was partially broken here and there.At few places,there were only 1ft slippery ice sheet along the flowing river.

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stay alert or dip in the ice-cold river

There are a very beautiful semi frozen waterfall at the left bank of river,a perfect spot to relax and take some jaw dropping pics.

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That astonishing beauty

DAY 4

Today we are going to narek village,the final destination.On the trail,there are several frozen waterfall.The last 200m of chadar was fully broken so we had to trek uphill to reach the iconic frozen waterfall.The magnificent frozen waterfall takes all my tiredness and the feeling of achievement makes me cheer loud.

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The gigantic one

DAY 5

Today we came back to tibb cave.What a drastic change of terrain overnight.We couldn’t relate the geography of the trail with yesterday’s one.It was almost 1ft deep freezing water at many site to cross.But we enjoyed a lot.

DAY 6

Now we are at shingra koma.On the way the chadar was fully broken at two places so we had to rock-climbing a little.This is very surprising and also painful to see how the climate change affecting the chadar.

DAY 7

We came back to tilad do.Today is the last day to feel the beauty of the chadar so we didn’t want to miss any chances.We dipped into the freezing water of zanskar.holy shit!!! Nothing feels after dipping.

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crazy docs

After taking a group photo,we say goodbye to chadar and hop on the car to back to leh.Yesssssssss we made it……………..”Been there , done that”

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we’ll meet again

 

Pic courtesy:Priyankar da,Rittwik,Somnath,Sayan

If you have an extra day in hand then pangong lake is the next best idea to explore.

 

MOSHI TOWN SIGHTSEEING

Moshi is a small town on the lap of the Mt.Kilimanjaro and the gateway to the Kilimanjaro national park.After the strenuous hike to Mt. Kilimanjaro everyone look for a perfect relaxing destination and the moshi town has it all.

KIKULETWA HOT SPRING(MAJI MOTO)

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Kikuletwa hot spring

Crystal clear flowing water body surrounded by big trees in the middle of a deserted land like an oasis.Though it named hot spring but the water is cold enough to relief you from the scorching sun of tanzania.Water has medium current and it flows underground.For adrenalin junkies,the water is deep enough to jump from the surrounding trees.Also there are a barbecue shop.Chilled beer with hot barbecue goat and french fries make your day trip a perfect one.Don’t book through agency.It’ll cost you almost 3 times.Just hire a random auto/car that cost around 25-30$.The entry fee is 10,000 african shilling/person.If you don’t know how to swim,not to worry,rent a life jacket or air tube.

LAKE CHALA

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Lake CHALA

Very beautiful crater lake surrounded by the lush green forest.Half of the lake within Tanzania and the other half in kenya.It takes only 2 hrs from moshi by car.The lake is within a private property.There are also cottages to stay beside lake.You can also go for a day tour,just go there,have some chilled beer at view-point restaurant,do kayaking and simply relax.

 

 

WILDLIFE SAFARI

If you have extra days in hand then safari is the next best idea.We did a one day safari to NGORONGORO CRATER.But a 3-4 days safari is recommended.

The journey was too long and tiresome from moshi,around 10 hrs return journey.But the little time we spent there was full of happy memories.We saw almost every wildlife like lion,zebra,wild beast,bison,elephant,deer,hippopotamus,wild boar,hyena,ostrich and many types of birds.

Details of Mt. Kilimanjaro trek

Mt. Kilimanjaro,a dormant volcano is the highest mountain in africa,about 5895M AMSL and one of the mountain of seven summit.It is the easiest one and the summit,the UHURU PEAK is a trekkable peak.

Best time to climb:

It is possible to climb the mt. Kilimanjaro year round however the best time is December-February and July-October.We started our trek in the last week of February(26th,’18).The weather was pretty cold,cloud in the evening and occasional raining.We summited the peak on 2nd March,’18.DSC05761

Trek route:

  • MARANGU route:Also known as “coca-cola” route.The route is easy one but less scenic.It takes minimum five days to complete the trek.
  • MACHAME route:Also known as “whisky” route.It is the most popular one and most scenic.It takes minimum six days to complete the trek.
  • LEMOSHO route:This is a newer route and also the beautiful one.It takes minimum six days to complete the trek.

    kilimanjaro route
    source: juliamalchow.de
  • SHIRA route:The route is almost same as the lemosho route,only the entry point is different and takes six days to complete the trek.
  • NORTHERN CIRCUIT route:This is the newest and scenic route.Less trekers.It takes nine days to complete the trek.
  • RONGAI route:Easiest route and takes six days to complete the trek.
  • UMBWE route:Very short,steep and difficult one.It takes six days to complete the trek.
  • WESTERN BREACH route:Closed now due to frequent rock falling.

Trek cost:

The cost of climbing mt. Kilimanjaro varies from agency to agency.Minimum 1500$ is required for basic package.We made a preplan with unique africa tours and safari.The group was very helpful,co-operative and made our summit climb successful.

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with our guides and porters who made our mt. Kilimanjaro climb successful

TREK TO THE ROOF OF AFRICA

I just completed my trek to mt. Kilimanjaro,a dormant volcano,the highest mountain in africa,about 5895M AMSL and here is my thrilling story.

To know about details of trek click here Mt. Kilimanjaro trek relevant info

DAY 1

MACHAME GATE(1800M) TO MACHAME CAMP(2835M)

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YMCA hostel…..Mt. Kilimanjaro at the background

In excitement I ate extra two boiled egg with bread toast,tea and sausage in YMCA hostel before starting the journey.The trek starting point,The MACHAME GATE is 45 minutes drive through villages known as cultivation zone.Today the trail is around 11 km with gaining of 1035M height.

An unhurried rate of movement on foot accompanied with my GoPro and already it started working by taking pics and videos of beautiful trail.Trail is very beautiful through montane forest zone and well marked.Different types of flowers and rare black and white monkeys gave me a new way to fall in love with the nature again.

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The road to happiness

It took around 5 hrs to reach the MACHAME CAMP.The weather was sunny with scattery cloud.Camp site was already well organised by our porters.We were greeted with hot soup,tea and snacks.The rest of the day spend well exploring the camp site and sharing the experience with fellow trekers.At the evening, we had our dinner and after briefing of tomorrow’s plan,we went to sleep.

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Sunset at  MACHAME CAMP

DAY 2

MACHAME CAMP(2835M) TO SHIRA CAVE CAMP(3750M)

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on the way to shira cave

Today we’ll trek up to SHIRA CAVE camp.It is around 5 km and elevation gain is 915M.The trail is through moorland and steep one.

After 5 hrs of steep hike we reached the camp site.The majestic view of snow-capped peaks made me overwhelmed and forget all the tiredness.After half an hour,clouds gathered and started raining.And the happiness is enjoying thunderstorm while having hot drinks with snacks in the tent.

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shira cave camp

After stopping rain we went to explore the shira cave.But it didn’t match our expectation.This is very small one,more like a shelter than a cave,not enough space to stand,mainly used as cooking spot by porters.

DAY 3

SHIRA CAVE(3750M) TO BARANCO CAMP(3900M) VIA LAVA TOWER(4600M)

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in front of lava tower,on the way to baranco camp

Today we are going to BARANCO CAMP via LAVA TOWER.The trail to the LAVA TOWER is around 7 km with gaining of 850M.Then we’ll descent another 3 km and 700M to the BARANCO CAMP.Today is more of acclimatization day CLIMB HIGH,SLEEP LOW”.

The trail is through alpine desert zone.As it named,there’s nothing around,only scattered small bushes.After 1hr and 45 minutes of walking,we reached the LAVA TOWER.This is an isolated steep hill in the alpine desert.If you are an adrenalin junkies then this is the spot for you.Just go for the climb to the top of the LAVA TOWER and have some daring pics.We had our packed lunch at the base.Then we started to descent.After crossing few small streams,we reached a place full of bizarre type plants,GIANT GROUNDSELS (DENDROSENECIO KILIMANJARI) and the sea of clouds make this place otherworldly.

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DENDROSENECIO KILIMANJARI

After 15 minutes,we reached at the BARANCO CAMP.It was raining and the place was covered with sea of clouds.At the evening,the clouds cleared away and for the first time THE BARANCO WALL slowly unveiled itself from the sea of clouds.It is as magnificent as scary.

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BARANCO CAMP AND THE BARANCO WALL

DAY 4

BARANCO CAMP(3900M) TO BARAFU CAMP(4673M) VIA KARANGA CAMP(3995M)

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climbing THE BARANCO WALL

The trail is around 10 km with gain of 773m elevation.Today we faced the toughest part of the whole trek,THE BARANCO WALL,steep 300m goosebumping wall but really enjoyable.There are no technical part to climb this wall.You just have to be extra cautious and crawl the way up.There are a “HUG AND KISS” rock and the name perfectly signify the technique to cross it.It took us almost 45 minutes to the top.

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“HUG AND KISS” rock

From the top the trail descent first to a gorge and then steep ascent up to the KARANGA CAMP.we had our lunch there.The weather was cloudy and after 15 minutes of ascent, the THUNDERSTORM started.There are no shelter in between the camp so we had to keep hiking.By that time when we reached the BARAFU CAMP,it started snowing.

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at BARAFU CAMP

Usually the summit march start at night with the aim to reach there before sunrise.But due to bad weather we decided not to hike that day, hoping to get a clear weather on next day.As we were stuck in our tent,had our dinner early and went to bed.

At night,my buddy wake me up as one side of our tent broke down partialy.But we were too lazy to come out from our warm sleeping bag.So we adjusted ourselves and get in deep sleep at no time.

DAY 5

BARAFU CAMP(4673M) TO UHURU PEAK(5895M) VIA STELLA POINT(5756M) AND RETURN

It was an unforgettable morning for me.I can’t stop myself to think about that blissful moment again and again.I woke up at 6:00 a.m and bumped my head on to hanging roof of the tent.How the heck it came down!!!!!Then i opened the zip and WOWWW…..Where am i???!!!I was looking over the hill,covered with white carpet of snow and became speechless.

 

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if this is not heaven,then nowhere else…

Due to unpredictable weather our summit march rescheduled at 10:00 a.m morning.The trail is around 5 km with gaining of 1222m elevation.After having breakfast we started our march to summit.When we were ascending, the maximum trekkers were descending who started their march at night and most of them failed to reach the summit due to bad weather.As we gained altitude, the weather became more windy and hailstorm started. We were in doubt about possibility of successful summit but we didn’t stop for a moment.The visibility was too poor that we were just following our guide’s footsteps. After 5 hrs,we reached at STELLA POINT,one step closure to the summit.

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at STELLA POINT,one step closure to the summit

The weather became more harsh after STELLA POINT. literally I was waddling but my spirit was determined.Then i saw the signboard at distance and felt the joy of achivement.I just ran to the board,kneel down in front of it,fist up in the air and closed my eyes.That feelings i can’t describe in words.You can feel it only the same way.

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joy of achievement,at UHURU PEAK

Due to bad weather we descent immediately to BARAFU CAMP.It took around 2 hrs and 30 minutes to reach the camp.

DAY 6

BARAFU CAMP(4673M) TO MWEKA GATE(1640M)

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on the way to descent,MWEKA CAMP

We descent from BARAFU CAMP to MWEKA GATE directly and saved a day for sightseeing near MOSHI TOWN.At MWEKA GATE, we collect our certificate of accomplishment and then back to YMCA hostel.

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and we did it finally….

 

Few more pics of my thrilling journey:

 

Solo Trek To Annapurna Base Camp:A Lesson Well Learned For Lifetime

Annapurna base camp trek is one of the popular trek in nepal.The trek is through diverse landscapes like mountains,paddy fields,picturesque villages,forest,meadows and along the river.In the end you’ll be rewarded with the view of the entire Annapurna range that leaves you spellbound.

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view of Annapurna range from ABC

Best time to visit: October-November  and  March-May

Difficulty grade: Moderate

Duration: 7-9 days

Stay: There are trekking huts and homestays in each villages.But higher you go lesser the number.It’s better to make a call and book in advance for the higher camps during peak season.You’ll get contact number from your first stay point.All trekking huts are well equipped with comfortable rooms,warm blanket,wi-fi and charging station.You can also get hot shower at higher camp.

Food: Trekking huts are well equiped.You can get almost everything.But the traditional Nepalese thali “dal-bhat-tarkari” containing rice,dal,vegetable curry is the best one.You can refill water in every hut.

Cost: Fooding and lodging will cost 2000-2500 NPR/day.

001Getting a permit: Very easy to get one from Nepal Tourism Board,POKHARA(open at 10:00 a.m.).Things require for getting permit

1.two passport size photo                                                 2.xerox copy of passport(indian citizen can submit copy of adhar/voter card)

Transportation to trek starting point: From POKHARA-BAGLUNG bus park, hop on a bus/shared sumo to GHANDRUK village/SIWAI.Bus goes first to SIWAI,wait for some time,return the same way and take right turn to GHANDRUK village.So if you want to go to GHANDRUK don’t debark at SIWAI.

                               MY SOLO JOURNEY

DAY 1

After getting the permit i went to POKHARA-BAGLUNG bus park and hopped on a local bus to GHANDRUK.My plan was to start the trek from ghandruk but i accidentally left the bus at SIWAI.It was around 3:00 p.m.So i took the trail to KYUMI,a very small village beside the MODI river.The trail is through terraced paddy fields and small villages.I reached there at 5:30 p.m. and it was almost dark.KYUMI have only two trekking hut.

Then the disaster happened.There was no room and dorm bed left.After searching for half an hour,i found a home near the bridge and asked for help.The owner happily welcomed me and arranged a room along with food.I was saved for the day.I’ll be grateful to them for the rest of my life.:)

 

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DAY 2

After having tea and breakfast,i started my journey to CHOMRONG.There are two trail-one along the left bank of MODI river,another along the right and both again meet at NEW BRIDGE.I took the left one through the forest.After crossing a small bridge the trail gradually ascent to JHINUDANDA,a busy village,full of trekking huts,homestays and restaurant.There is a hot spring also.

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MODI river…..pic taken in between KYUMI and NEW BRIDGE

After crossing the village the path became more steep to the top of the hill to CHOMRONG.There are two homestay at the entry point of CHOMRONG village.I stayed the second one.From here the view of the valley and river is very peaceful and breathtaking.Mt. MACHAPUCHARE is also well seen on clear day.The trail from GHANDRUK village also meets here.The main village of chomrong is 10 minutes walking distance and full of hotels, homestays, restaurant and souvenir shops.

DAY 3

There is a check point at CHOMRONG.You need to entry your details and show them the permit and the same during return.

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at CHOMRONG check post

From CHOMRONG the trail goes downhill to the bridge then uphill to upper SINUWA village.From here the trail goes through the forest.Small streams across the trail made it more beautiful.After crossing the forest,the trail goes downhill to bamboo village,then again gradually ascent to DOVAN.

I had plan to stay here but as i reached early, i didn’t make stop there.Another hour of walking and i made it to HIMALAYA village.This is a very small one,have three trekking huts surrounded by serene tranquil forest and hills.

And then the second disaster happened.The rooms was all prebooked.Likely i found the guy who is the owner of the homestay at CHOMRONG.He arranged a shared room and saved me for that day.I came to know that the first ever Annapurna sanctuary tourism festival have been held at annapurna base camp and that’s why there were shortage of accommodation.

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DAY 4

Now i’m ready to start my thrilling journey to ABC.The trail gradually ascent upto a cave.From here you can see the DEURALI village far away nestle in the slope of the mountain.There are a glacier and a small stream at the trail.The trail on the glacier is muddy,slippery and dangerous.From deurali the trail is through open land,full of flowers and along the river.The mt. ANNAPURNA III and mt. MACHAPUCHARE are well seen throughout the trail.

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trail from DEURALI to MBC

IMG-20171018-WA0091After reaching the MBC I met again with my last night saviour and he told me that there are no accommodation available at ABC.So i stayed at MBC.This place is very beautiful surrounded by snow-capped mountains.At the evening,the place became more magical when the last ray of sun made the goodbye kiss to the snow-capped mountains.

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MBC at evening
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MBC at night

DAY 5

I wake up early to see the sunrise.The weather was too cold but when the first ray of sun paints the annapurna range in orange,the celestial beauty made my heart warm.IMG-20171018-WA0001IMG-20171018-WA0004

After having breakfast,I went for ABC.The trail gradually ascent then through plane land.Due to festival,ABC was full of trekkers,visitors,media people,high rank people of Nepal and police.I took some pics and videos but all got deleted due to memory card defect.

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trail to ABC

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at ABC gate
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Annapurna base camp
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view of annapurna range from ABC

After having some quality time,i came back to MBC,packed my bag and leave for HIMALAYA.At the evening i reached there and today i was not so lucky to get a room.

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returning from ABC

So i had to move on to DOVAN.It was already dark,the trail was around 1 hour through forest and i was all alone.I stopped before entering the forest,look back,saw the light of HIMALAYA at distance,thought about going back and stay outside for the rest of night but my adventurous soul pushed me hard to go on.So i step forward without second thought.After going for half an hour i heard footsteps at distance behind me. Seriously!!!!is this the time of a joke!!!!!!????In the dark forest,all alone,nothing around 2km or more and then suddenly footsteps following me like a horror movie.My heart running faster so my foot but the footsteps became more closure.Then i desperately looked back and saw a glimpse of torch-light and i felt relief.A local people with whom i met earlier at trail also going to dovan and i was the happiest person to hear this.Another 15 minutes through dark forest then i saw a glimpse of light at distance,the DOVAN village.I was lucky enough to get a single room here.

DAY 6

Today i came back to CHOMRONG and didn’t go further because the villages after JHINUDANDA have limited accommodation and i don’t want to relive my last night horror story.I had plenty of time to explore CHOMRONG village and it was worth the time spend.

DAY 7

Now the last day of my thrilling,beautiful journey had come to knock my heart’s door.I started early to reach POKHARA by afternoon.This time i took the other trail from the new bridge.There are a beautiful waterfall after crossing NEW BRIDGE.After hrs of walking i reached at KYUMI and met with the family who saved me on very first day.They are the real hero.After spending some memorable time,i started my journey,reached at SIWAI,took a shared taxi and reached POKHARA by 5:00 p.m.

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PHEWA LAKE,POKHARA