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Ice River Itinerary & Trip Details

Chadar Ice River Expedition 

Presented by Bici Adventure (Switzerland):

TRIP: Chadar Ice River Trek

DATES: 8 January to 23 January 2016

DURATION: 16 days

COST: $8,980 AUD (includes $2,000 fundraising donation to Lille Fro Foundation, which is tax deductible in Australia)


OPERATED BY: Bici Adventure, 6314 Unterägeri, Switzerland. Telephone: +61 2 8005 6553 (Australia),  +41 (0)41 750 26 65 (Switzerland). Web: www.abenteurreisen.ch


Day 1 | Delhi, India

We meet in Delhi and gather ourselves before flying to Leh. Due to weather conditions our flight may be delayed.

Day 2 | Leh, 3500m above sea level

One of the most spectacular flights imaginable! Weather permitting, we enjoy a scenic bird’s eye view over the largest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. The rest of the day is for resting in the comfort of your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel
Highlight: Scenic flight over the Himalayas

Day 3 | Leh sightseeing, 3500m above sea level

Following breakfast, our jeep takes us to Thiksey, a hilltop Tibetan Buddhist monastery perched on top of the cliff face 20 kms from Leh. From here we venture to Leh’s Royal Palace. Depending on how everyone is feeling, we begin to explore some hidden corners of Leh and unwind into the pace of Ladakhi life, a mix of the new with constant reminders of the past. An ever-presence of monks carrying prayer wheels and amulets, their wrinkled faces more shadow than light. 

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: Thiksey Monastery.

Day 4 | Leh, sightseeing, 3500m above sea level

Gradually as we become used to the dry cold and the altitude, we explore more of the city on foot. In winter, as many of the shops are closed, parts of the town will seem deserted. But leave it to us, we know where to find Leh’s hidden gems. In the afternoon we visit one of Lille Fro’s development projects.

Early evening we drive to Shanti Stupa, one of Leh’s more impressive landmarks. A foreboding structure overlooking the town. Here we stop to reconnect, take a breath and enjoy the sunset from the impressive terrace.

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: Sunset at Shanti Stupa.

Day 5 | Leh to Chilling, 3100m above sea level

We travel from Leh to Chilling following the Indus river, retracing the southern branch of the Silk Route that once connected Europe with the Far East. As we venture beyond Leh, the Buddhist prayer flags adorning village houses and white washed stupas break the monotony of the khaki-coloured landscape. We travel by jeep 80km from Leh to Chilling, a small village on the banks of the Zanskar River. In summer this is the launch point for rafting tours. In winter, it is the beginning of our ice river expedition. We set off onto the ice for a short walk to our first camp. As the nights are cold, an expedition quality sleeping bag is a must.

Accommodation: Camp

Highlight: First steps on the ice river.

Day 6 | Chilling to Zari Bao, 3200m above sea level

As we wake to a chilly morning, we will need to warm our clothes in our sleeping bags before heading to breakfast in the warm kitchen tent. The local crew will look after your heavier bags so you are free to walk with just a light backpack.

If the ice conditions are good, we will easily cover today’s 15km trek through narrow gorges and impressive ice formations.

Accommodation: Camp

Highlight: First full day trekking on the river.

Day 7 | Zari Bao to Deep Yokma, 3300m above sea level

As we head further along the ice river where the brittle 5000m peaks rise vertically from the Chadar, you will begin to feel more comfortable with each step. If the sunshine is out, we will start to peel off our layers. But don’t pack them too far away.

As soon as the sun slips behind or if the wind picks up, the bitter cold mountain air intensifies. We warm up with a hot meal and tea for lunch. If you look up, you might catch a glimpse of the Himalayan blue sheep or if you’re lucky, the famous snow leopard often spotted in this region. In the evening, we camp on the river and hope for a cold night as the colder it is, the easier it will be on the ice the next day.

Accommodation: Camp

Highlight: The stars in the night sky. A sight to be seen.

Day 8 | Deep Yokma to Lingshed, 3600m above sea level

We set out on the ice in the morning navigating the frozen valleys of Zanskar until we stop for lunch. Following a well deserved rest, we make our ascent up to the mountain village of Lingshed traversing the steep snow covered paths. Here we will be greeted by ever hospitable locals and the broad smiling children. Relax by the stove hearth in the warmth of the indoors. If game, enjoy a butter tea with your hosts and experience a true homestay Ladakhi style.

Accommodation: Homestay

Highlight: A warm bed and a roof over our heads.

Day 9 | Lingshed, 3600m above sea level

A day of rest and time to unwind and explore the village of Lingshed. Connect with the locals, and experience traditional village life which has not changed for hundreds of years. Venture to the village monastery which is home to about 40 monks.

Accommodation: Homestay

Highlight: Meeting the locals.

Day 10 | Lingshed to Deep Yokma, 3300m above sea level

We leave the village to begin our trek back. With the ice changing every hour, the landscape will look completely different on our return journey. In only a few short weeks from now, the ice will have melted rendering Zanskar cut off again from the rest of the world until late spring, when the roads re-open. As we walk along the ice we will see parents dressed in the traditional woollen Gonchas and yak fur boots taking their children to school by sled along what has been described as ‘The world’s toughest walk to school’.

We pitch our tents for the last time at Deep Yokma.

Accommodation: Camp

Highlight : Encounters on the ice.

Day 11 | Deep Yokma to Chilling – Leh

We leave early on this long day to cover the distance we took two days to traverse on the outwards journey. We aim to reach Chilling before dark where a taxi will be waiting to take us back to Leh. Here we can enjoy our first hot shower for more than a week.

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: A hot shower

Day 12 | Leh – Delhi – Agra

From Leh, we fly back over the mountains to the bustle of Delhi. We are picked up from the airport and transfer directly to Agra, about 200km or roughly 5 hour entertaining ride from the airport. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Agra. Take advantage of the hotel spa.

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: Drive from Delhi to Agra

Day 13 Agra

Auto-rickshaws take through Agra’s congested laneways to arrive intime for sunrise at the Taj Mahal. It’s worth getting up early to experience the true splendor of one of the seven great wonders of the world changing colour with the morning light. Our tour includes the Agra Fort from another viewing spot for the Taj Mahal and tomb of Itmad-du-daula, also known as the Baby Taj Mahal.

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: The Taj Mahal

Day 14 | Agra to Delhi

After breakfast we drive back to Delhi and check into our hotel. The afternoon is yours at leisure to explore Delhi.

Accommodation: Hotel

Highlight: Free afternoon in Delhi

What’s included:

  • Return domestic flight from Delhi to Leh (scheduled flights / economy class)
  • 15kg luggage allowance (domestic flights)
  • Airport taxes, fuel charges
  • Airport pick up and transfers
  • All meals and drinks for the entire trip
  • All ground transportation including airport transfers and jeep safari
  • the development and co-ordination of a specifically tailored volunteer program
  • all accommodation including a superior local hotel in Ladakh and first class hotel in Delhi (based on double room occupancy *NB: Single occupancy rates apply)
  • All land services and transfers, all visitor entries
  • Qualified BICI Adventure guide
  • Local Ladakhi team, tour guides and porters
  • Waterproof sport bag (value $210 USD)
  • Tips for BICI staff and porters ($100 USD)

What’s not included:

  • International flights
  • Travel visas
  • Travel insurance. (Please note travel insurance is compulsory for all Bici Adventure trips with cover extending to medical evacuation)

Group bookings & tailored trips

Our aim is to keep group sizes small to ensure trips are as personalized as possible. As such, we regret that places may be limited. If you have a group of 6 or more, please let us know as we may be able to take your group as a separate trip.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a proud supporter of Lille Fro and is pleased to offer our guests special fares on your flights to India.

Singapore Airlines operates over 120 flights per week between Australia and Singapore, flying from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, with regional wing SilkAir operating services from Darwin. Convenient onward connections to Delhi are available, with 2 flights per day. Fly the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380, now servicing Delhi and Mumbai.

Please contact us for further information on accessing these special fares.

Acclimatisation and altitude

We take acclimatisation seriously and so should you. After stepping off the plane in Leh, we start our acclimatisation process. This is critical due to the drastic change in elevation and the different oxygen conditions in breathing.

Our acclimatisation program has been planned together with experts and physicians In Switzerland and meets the highest safety standards. We carry comprehensive medical equipment at all times.

Safety Standards

At Bici Adventure, the safety of all members of our expedition is paramount. We undergo intensive research and pre-tour preparations working only alongside local partners who also undergo our training programs and comply with our high safety standards.

Guides: Only experienced bike and trekking guides are engaged. We conduct regular training of our staff and train using different emergency scenarios. We also promote the education and training of our local staff.

The standard safety equipment includes:
- Oxygen
- Medical case
- Medically trained personnel 

For our Himalayan tours we have jointly developed a high altitude safety concept with a high-altitude specialis which has been implemented successfully.

Weather and Climate

Leh, the capital of Ladakh sits at an altitude of approximately 3,500 metres on the Tibetan plateau at the junction of the Himalayas and Ladakh ranges. Ladakh is one of the highest and driest habitable places on earth.

In summertime, the mountain ranges acts as a barrier to the monsoon rains, which means very little rainfall throughout the year. Flora and fauna survive on glacial water as do the locals for their water requirements.

August is the height of summer in Ladakh. During the day temperatures reach around 30 degrees sometimes falling to zero at night. These numbers decrease the higher we climb.

Rare unstable weather conditions bringing rain and snow in recent years mean all climatic conditions must be taken into account - from heat to snow and storms.
As we are in a high altitude desert, the sun is intense. Protective clothing, sunscreen and a hat are packing essentials.