• This is sad. In fact that is the case with all destinations. Some day soon it would all be swarming with irresponsible tourists.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes, indeed it is. Heartbreaking. What is shocking is the rate at which Ladakh has got commercialised. First it was the film 3 Idiots that gave it that boost and the Chadar trek which kind of made it busier place than usual even in winters.

  • I’m from the north-east of Italy in the middle of the mountains and I can understand when you say COLD!
    anyway I love trekking and is true is not for everybody the people could be careful. Have to be cool this trekking anyway, when you finish, I think, for the difficulty, you can feel very proud of yourself!


    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      It would be really great to trek in the north of Italy. Any recommendations on mountains to climb?

  • Devashish Patel

    We are doing theChaadar in the coming season and I agree with all the points you put out there. Commercialization of any trek has its own set of disadvantages, yet this has opened a new avenue of commerce for the local economy that didn’t exist before.

    As for the tour and trek operators they are insensitive to the nature they proclaim to love and do business in. Yet in Ladakh the local trekking union Aldo is taking a big cut and not helping the locals where the real need is. Something must be done to reform that. I am not sure how .. but it should happen


    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      I’m not entirely sure if it’s helping local economy. At least on the trek that I went to quite a few of the trekking staff were outsiders.

  • 2travellingsisters

    Being a responsible tourist and respecting and taking utmost care of the surrounding or place where we are travelling is one thing that has to be on top of any traveler’s list! You have noted very good points which are an eye opener as well as a good advice for people who plan to explore the Himalayas or any other offbeat destination India and abroad!

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Some times the most basic of guidelines are what should be followed. Unfortunaltey people miss out on them completely because of their levels of excitement or cultural insensitivity. Hopefully things will get better in the future.

  • TravelingWellForLess

    The Chadar is so beautiful and amazing. It doesn’t sound like the trek organizers were very responsible nor respectful of the environment. That’s a sure recipe for people to get hurt.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes, until and unless all the people start being responsible there’s a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Catarina Leonardo

    I never heard about this place… So thank you for that. It seems very nice. I´m sad to read what you write about your experience.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      It is very nice indeed. All that it takes to make it better is a little discretion on part of everyone involved.

  • Punita Malhotra

    The Chadar trek is the ultimate for hikers in India, but this is a different take on it. You have made some very important points here.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes, hopefully the organizers will do a better job of who they let trek in the futures.

  • Chronic Wanderlust

    I agree that those over-promoted places harm the environment and many hikers don’t think about their environmental footprint or how this can actually harm the local communities. But how about you write about how they can improve? I just don’t like reading negative articles 🙁

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Thanks for your comment. A fellow blogger has actually written a very good article about responsible travel in Ladakh. I’ve linked to it in the end.

  • Nathan James Coverdale

    This is really interesting, especially from the aspect that it’s hurting the locals and environment, thanks for sharing.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes. In fact this trek might not even exist in a few years time. There’s an all weather road being built to the remote corners or the valley and then there won’t be a need to walk on ice at all. I shudder to think how many people will that attract to visit Ladakh in winters

  • This trek sounds like it should not be taken lightly, yet many people do! Good for you on following up on one of your dream trips and then being honest about the experience!

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      No, it shouldn’t be! In, I’m sure you’ll agree no trek should ever be taken lightly.

  • Whoo! Sounds like a pretty intense trek. Glad you pointed out your honest experience for others to read about.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yeah, it can get really really cold! I think as travellers we have the responsibility to make other aware of what should be done and what shouldn’t be

  • I know exactly what you mean, people don’t do enough research before signing up to such a gruelling trek! Maybe next time you do something like this try organising it with more experienced trekkers!

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Lesson learnt! The next time I go for a trek, I’ll either go solo or ask a few friends of mine who I know are responsible trekkers

  • Such a fine line between adventurous travel and being socially responsible. I imagine that the internet and social media has encouraged people to delve into all kinds of crazy and beautiful places, just so they can share on Instagram.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes, indeed! Also the ease of getting to and away from such places helps!

  • Sounds like a pretty intense trek – shame your fellow trekkers were so unprepared and disrespectful. I can see why it took the shine off the expereince!

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Yes. From now on it’s either gonna be solo, self guided treks or with people whom I can trust to be responsible.

  • Samantha Applewhaite

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I appreciate you giving your honest thoughts about the trek. I hope your next expedition is better!

  • Mary Charie Ylagan

    I think it’s all depends on each individual’s perspective. To me, I kind of enjoy organised tours and doesn’t enjoy it at the same time. I love that I get an insider’s tips but I don’t like to talk to other participatns that much! Haha!

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Mee too. I like the ease and convenience that organised tours provide but at the same time you don’t have flexibility to do your own thing in some cases

  • I have never been to the Himalayas but I did do a really hard trek in Peru, in the Andes. I did it to challenge myself and to know that at the end, in the fifth day, my efforts would lead me to Machu Picchu. I do believe that sometimes the guides are the ones who misinform. Nobody told me when I signed in about how hard the hike is going to be. And nobody told me the equipment that i needed for it. I was one of the ones staying in my tent before dinner but that was because I was exhausted and needed time to rest. And also because the temperatures were freezing. But it was worth it? Yes it was.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      What you say is true. I think an entire system needs to be developed where everyone related to the trek is made aware of how to make sure there are minimum impacts of a negative kind.

  • Jordan

    Interesting opinion – I have to say that if you have done it then everyone else should have the right to aswell right? Maybe local authorities should limit numbers if is hurting people but its also providing much needed jobs and employment. Bit pot calling the kettle black however isn’t it?

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Oh yes indeed. Everyone has a right to decide for themselves. This is just what I say/would say if someone asks me my take on it.

      I agree that it’s like crow calling a raven black 😉

  • Vyjay Rao

    I think it all depends on an individual’s opinion. But people should do full research before going to such place.
    Travellers should be responsible for keeping the environment clean and safe specially for the locals.
    Glad you pointed out your honest experience for others to read about.

  • Was that a selfie craze… taking dips in zero temp waters? Thanks for the caution about these groups.
    Travelers should refrain from disturbing nature in any manner.

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      The selfie craze! Don’t ask! X(

  • These are all valid and understandable points for not linking Chadar Trek. Hope you have better trekking experiences in the future!

  • Chris Whittaker

    Too much truth man. As an Outdoor Activities Guide, I see exactly where you are going from. Many people do not understand the trace they are leaving and the impact on the local environments. Well written and well argued my friend.

  • Vibha@pixelvoyages

    First up, thanks for not giving your post a deceiving title and for saying it the way it is. I’ve seen so many posts saying ‘X reasons to not visit Y’ which then go on to say the exact opposite. The world would be a better place if we didn’t put commercial interests ahead of the needs of the locals and the environment. Peace out!

  • Oh no! I thought places like this are left undisturbed. This is sad as the case with most of other destinations. You raised very valid points. We should be careful when we go to these places.

  • SGD

    This is a very different post with straight and clear message. It is also an eye opener for people to travel responsibly. I totally agree with you on the fact that these isolated places are getting touristy day by day. People does crazy things to brag it on their social media resume and hardly holds any respect for the nature and the locals. Its a real pity. I appreciate you honest post. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Pratiksha Dutta

    Have just finished this insane trek this year and let me tell you I was a first timer. 🙂 I enjoyed as well as anybody experienced could have , of course I did research and had great guides with me . Wouldn’t say it was easy, but definitely wasnt as discouraging as you make it sound. First timers can definitely do this.
    2. Agree with the playing songs in the natural environment and spoiling and what is wrong with bonding with the trekking group while singing songs? It makes the trekking fun and enjoyable. We did and in fact the locals joined us and sang with us laddakhi and bollywood songs. It was all in good spirit and I don’t see anything wrong or stupid in it.
    3. Dip in the chadar river – FYI this dip is done at the end of the trek at the Tilak do camp and frankly there is nothing non safe about it. It is not like it is being done in the middle of high current water flowing. There are people to help you and locals even encourage it. All my trekker group mates and people in other groups did it and my personal experience was, I actually felt warmer after the trip and the low temperature walking for past 6 days.
    4. Agree with the trek hurting the locals bit but at the same time it is giving employment opportunities to innumerable locals. For this they are not complaining. It is the age old argument about perils and advantages of tourism in a place. This way, we should not visit any place because human presence itself violates the natural balances over the period of time. Also, having yourself visited it already, now telling others to not because environmental issues is being a little hypocritical, those issues were present then too when you visited, isn’t it ?
    5. A road is already being built and chadar trek is going to be obsolete then, environmental problems as far as rising temperatures and pollution with increase manifold as compared to people trekking, but it will also solve problems that local face currently of having to walk/sledge for multiple days to reach places. Everything is a trade off right.
    6. I am sorry that your group was not a sensible one, or may be you didn’t find them to be sensible , which ruined your trek and probably that has been the reason behind the discouraging tone of your piece. I understand you have been a trekker for 15 years, it still doesn’t warrant you to say first time trekkers can’t do it point blank. It is not true.
    5. Be a little patient with the world and its people 🙂

    • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

      Thanks for taking the time to put your perspective forward in a detailed way.

      I totally agree with what you have to say and I’m not against someone going or not going. It is just something I’m not a fan of it. That doesn’t mean people can’t go or shouldn’t go on this trek. Or any trek, trip or place for that matter.

      I’m glad you’ve had a great time on the trek.

      Happy Travels!

      Venkat Ganesh