Considering the environmental damages caused by mass tourism and to sustain the Chadar for generations to come, LAHDC [ Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council ]has proposed to draft a Policy Framework on Eco-Tourism and Sustainability, which will be finalized on consensus from all stakeholders in a meeting at the LAHDC office in Dec’ 2014. This will be further sent to the J&K Govt for approval.

The above process will take a while to be formulated. Meanwhile, to combat the growing influx of mass tourism on Chadar presently, the LAHDC has proposed the following:

1. There will be a maximum limit of 10 pax per group.

2. Each registered Travel agency will operate a maximum of 7 groups only.

3. The Administration will issue permits for Chadar and no agent can trek without the permission. The permit fees for Chadar will be Rs. 2500/- per person.

4. ALTOA [All Ladakh Tour Operators Association] members will be required to take Trekking chits from the ALTOA office or through its representatives @ Rs. 300/- per person

5. Fixed camps will not be allowed at Chadar

These decisions have been taken on the following grounds: Chadar has limited carrying capacity and mass tourist treks cannot be operated as it is a threat to flora, fauna, and ecology at large. Chadar is a premium product and should not be sold cheap, as it is marketed by some Indian companies.

A couple of years ago, commercial enterprises like India Hikes had started bringing groups of 30 people at a time for the trek. Since they got tourists in bulk numbers, there charges were not high as compared to the other operators. Because of this, local agents were incurring losses. Chadar is one of the most sought after treks in the country. Also, getting so many people together to walk on the frozen river pollutes the environment,”

These developments have come in at the last moment and has thus created absolute confusion for both the trekkers as well as the trek companies.

Thus on summary, the points to be noted: A proposal has been put forward from 2015 Chadar Trek that an amount of Rs. 2800/- be charged from each of the trekker for environmental and other reaons. This is still not final and LAHDC would be giving the final ruling, though this figure is most likely as of now.

All these developments have come up by this month only and still with only less than 20 days for the first batch of Chadar to start, no final decision has been communicated. The amount as of moment is Rs 2800 per trekker [Rs 2500+ 300]. As of now confusion is there not only for trekkers but for travel companies like Altitude Adventure.

However if an additional fee is levied for Chadar trek, Altitude Adventure has but no option but to also charge the same for those who would be going through the trek.

The batch strength as noted, provisionally has been limited to around 10 persons in a batch, from 15 to 20 that was the original batch strength for Altitude Adventure. With each batch, a different guide plus cook and other porters are also needed. As such these also add to costs. Altitude Adventure would be absorbing all the costs regarding the batch strength loss and the increased costs that is due to for the additional personnel.

However, the additional trek fee of the government would be charged as and when notified by the authorities, LAHDC and ALTOA. Provisionally it is now Rs 2800 per trekker.

This amount would be thus payable at Leh on start of Chadar trek for each and every trekker for Chadar Trek 2015.

We will keep you updated regarding further developments but again regret the confusion that is still prevailing as the authorities have still not yet communicated officially.

All trek companies are requesting the administration to waive off the Rs 2500/- for this year at least, as they still not have decided about it though the first trek batches start in less than 15 days. Let's hope that this is waived off.

As for the ALTOA fees, that would be binding, and would cost around Rs 300 per person

All extra fees if imposed, would be payable here at Leh to your travel tour operator directly.