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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek - 8 Days

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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
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The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is in no need of an introductory treatise. It presents the poem in itself. You can draw a preface of it by just hearing its name. Kashmir is a wonderful place and if you are on a Himalayan trek you are bound to taste the natural beauty and adventure. The trek to the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek offers a lifetime experience of vintage memories that are so wonderfully tiring. The thundering silence of the Kashmir lakes and its virgin beauty is spell bound. Apart from the lakes, even the barren milky snow clad mountains stand out in might and proud.

The location of this trek, as obvious, is Kashmir, also known as the paradise of the earth. The trek duration calculates around 7-9 days and this trek is often graded as moderate in regards to the trekking challenges. The elevation circles around 13000 feet and the distance paths approximately 63 kms. On such a fulfilling trek you will learn so much learn about yourself- in a trifecta – physically, mentally and emotionally. For a trekker, nothing can replace and prepare him for those paramount and conflicting emotions that whether his body will take so much of strain and whether he will make it or not. But the joy on reaching the destination is obvious. This trek will always be happy and a cherishing trek for the trekkers that comes in handy with a few preparations.

As the trek to the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek demands physical fitness, you must take good care of your health, shape yourself well and be fit and fine. Trekkers can train themselves by working out regularly in gym along with running, walking on incline, cycling, cross-training and stretching on a daily basis. Along with physical health mental fitness is important equally.

Coming to the details of the trek, it generally starts from almost 3 kms out of Sonamarg, on the Srinagar road. You can find few dhabbas on your way. It's better to the trekkers to pick up short eats here for the next trace of a dwelling place will be at Naranag that would be probably mark the end of the track.

A few of the trail and the trek enters a green meadow, overlooking the Sonamarg town. At the top of the meadows trekkers reach the starting line of Maple and Pine trees. What follows is a lovey-dovey deep dense forest of Maple trees. Such an experience has always been unique to this trek in India.

You will always be amongst the meadows throughout this trek. The best time to enjoy the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is in between the June and September as the greenery and the blooming flowers are at their best during this calendar period. It's so that a beginner in trekking can also join this trek.

Trailing through the Maple trees uphill, trekkers can enjoy the crystal clear view of the nearby villages downhill and especially the Sonamarg village. Every bit of nature nestles to make a wonderful picture. From here the trail slopes down into yet another meadow lined by the Silver Birch trees and a few shepherd huts. Massively tiny brooks struggling through the meadows and snowy peaks of small mountains mark the land of Shekdur. Shekdur is the only camp site with trees on this trek. It is therefore an add-on in your clicks. The sun rays piercing through the forest, that comes on your way, on further trailing, makes it a nice show of dark and light. Further the trail climbs back into a river valley which is the beginning of Nichanai. You have entered into a wide valley encompassed by the peaks.

After crossing a tunnel-like Nichnai pass followed up by the miles spreading meadow and the cascading waterfall with the icy cold composition of two atoms of Hydrogen and one atom of Oxygen, comes the Vishansar Lake. The first impression that the lake imposes upon the trekker is that of its volume and surrounding provided by the four mountains. It is been followed up by the Kishansar Lake which is only at a distance of 1.2 kms. It has a big meadow stretching by its side. The trail follows up through a ridge. You can see the loveliest view of the two gone-by lakes together from the Gadsar pass which is the highest point of this trek.

Then the time comes to descend. On the way back, the eye captures the view of Yamsir Lake, the nameless lake and the Gadsar Lake which are all connected by all stream. Further you will come to a place called Maengandob where few deep craters are found. The landscape ahead is magnificent for you get to visit Satsar Lakes-collection of seven Lakes and further the twin lakes among which the bigger is the Gangabal and the other one to arrive is Nundkol. On your last destination two Naranag, you are greeted with awe-inspiring glaciers, meadows as well as mountain peaks.

The trek to the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek will provide to the trekkers a perfect flavour of all hues of terrain- innumerable meadows, snow clad glaciers and pinnacles, passes, rocky barren lands, struggling streams. The trail to the Great Lakes is worth trekking. It does justice to all the expectations of a trekker. No individual will ever undergo but this trek will make you undergo. It is a path to heaven and its virgin serenity.

While trekking, trekkers must be equipped with the necessary equipment's. Apart from the professional trekking gear, stuffs inclusive of trekking shoes, trekking pole are important specifically. Trekkers must never compromise with their body requirements. It's better to understand your body need and not going by the choice of some other fella. The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is not a child's game but even a child of ten years can go on this trek. The luggage or the carry bag should be as light as possible. It will be in your comfort.

Day 1 :- Arrive at Sonamarg

  • Altitude: 7800 ft
  • 90 kms drive from Shrinagar, approx 3 hours.
  • If booked in advance, AAI can arrange pick up from TRC at 3pm
  • Our campsite is near the Sindh river (Shitkadi Village).
  • Since there are no shops around ensure that you have all that you need already.
  • Remember to carry your ID proof in original and 2 photo copies as we have to submit them at the army check post.

Day 2:- Sonamarg to Nichnai via Shekdur.

  • Altitude: 7,800 ft to 11,500 ft
  • 11 kms trek, approx 8 hours
  • After the breakfast we trek to Nichnai via Shekdur.
  • The trail takes you through meadows, dense forests with Maple, Pine and Bhoj trees.
  • After approx half an hour, we get an army check post where we have to submit our ID proofs.
  • While you are at it, you can enjoy an awesome view of the Sonmarg Valley or the Thajiwas Glacier.
  • The trek from Shitkadi to Shekdur is goes through thick forests of pine trees and will take approx 2 and half hours.
  • At Shekdur, you can indulge in instant noodles and an omelette if you wish to.
  • We follow the Nichnai Stream as we trek from Shekdur to Nichnai.
  • We have lunch at the Nichnai stream, after Shekdur.

Day 3 :- Nichnai to Vishansar lake via Nichnai Pass

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft to 12,000 ft via 13100 ft
  • 12 kms trek, approx 7 hours
  • Trek from Nichnai to Nichnai Pass is of approx 1 and half hours ascent.
  • At the top of Nichnai Pass you can get B.S.N.L network, which is the last point under mobile coverage area.
  • From Nichnai pass to Vishansar there is a descent.
  • At Vishansar campsite, lunch will be offered.
  • We can visit the Vishansar Lake which is just 15 minutes walk from the campsite
  • The first lake of the trek and one of the most beautiful ones.
  • If the trek is in July, the lake will be frozen. Otherwise, we can do fishing at the lake with permission from Srinagar Fishing Department.
  • Vishansar is visited by hoards of sheep and their shepherds are known for interesting stories.
  • The campsite is a unique place with an open ground and you can play volleyball, cricket etc.
  • Beware of dogs at campsite

Day 4:- Acclimatization + Rest Day. (Condition Apply)

  • You may visit Kishansar lake, which is at approx 1 and half kms from our camp site.
  • If the weather is not good we will use acclimatization day at vishansar or else move towards next camp site, rest day can be use at Gangbal camp site.

Day 5:- Vishansar lake to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass

  • Altitude: (12,000ft) to (12,000ft) via (13,750ft)
  • 14 kms trek, approx 10 hours
  • We start the trek earlier than usual.
  • The trail passes from Vishansar to Gadsar, via Gadsar pass the highest point of the trek.
  • From Vishansar, the trail takes a steep ascent till Gadsar Pass.
  • We can see the Kishansar Lake on the way.
  • From the Gadsar pass till the camp site, we descend gradually.
  • We can spot the Gadsar lake en route.
  • You might also spot the Glacier of Gadsar Lake.
  • After the Gadsar lake, we will reach the campsite in 2 hours.
  • Just a few minutes before our campsite, we will have another army checkpoint and we will have to share our ID proofs with them.
  • Pack lunch will be provided

Day 6 :- Gadsar to Satsar

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft to 12,000 ft
  • 9 kms trek, approx 6 hours trek
  • Mid July to mid August, the trail is laden in vibrant flowers.
  • We need to share our IDs at another army check post en route. .
  • Moving on, we see two small lakes which are often mistaken as Satsar Lakes.
  • We will visit the Satsar twin lakes, in the afternoon, which are approx 1.3 h
  • Stasar twin lakes are also known as mengen top.
  • Those twin lakes are between the middle of the mountain.

Day 7 :- Satsar to Gangabal twin lakes via Zaj Pass

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft to 11,500 ft 13000
  • 11 kms trek, approx 6 hours
  • We walk on rocky paths for approx an hour and ascend till Jazz Pass.
  • At the pass, you can enjoy views of the 4 lakes, Mt. Harmukh and its glacier.
  • From the pass we descend till the Gangbal lake and camp at Nandkol lake.
  • We visit the Gangbal Lake, which is one of the largest lakes in the trek.
  • Post dinner, a team of Kashmiri staff will perform their traditional songs and dance.

Day 8 :- Gangabal to Naranag Drive to Srinagar

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft to 7,450 ft
  • 15 kms trek, approx 7 hours
  • The trail is a descent till the last point of the trek – Naranag, so take care of your knees and ankles.
  • The trail will pass through pine tree forests.
  • On advance booking, AAI can arrange transport to Srinagar at a charge.
  • After the 70 kms drive, you will reach Srinagar by 6:30 pm.

 

Day 1
Arrive Srinagar, Drive to Sonamarg

Depart to Sonamarg in the afternoon. It is 3 hrs drive from Srinagar.

Day 2
Sonamarg (7,800ft) to Nichnai (11,500ft) via Shekdur

3 hour ascent followed by 1 hour descent and finally a gentle ascent to Nichnai (6 hours, 9kms)

The trek starts 3 kms out of Sonamarg, on the Srinagar road. Exactly at the 3 km mark, spot a lone Dhaba on the right. The place also sells packaged water, biscuits etc and is your last place to pick up short eats. The next trace of dwelling civilization is only at Naranag at the end of the trek.

A jeep track diverts to the right off the main road at the shop. The track goes down to the level of the Sindh river flows in between the mud track and the main road. The trekking trail starts along the track but quickly diverts higher up. 10 minutes into the trek, the trail bends left and enters a green meadow. The meadow directly overlooks the Sonamarg town. In half an hour you are at the top of the meadow where Maple and Pine trees start. At the tree line, the trail quickly descends to a tiny brook and then climbs again. What follows next is a lovely dense forest of Maple trees. Walking on the green bed of grass amidst the Maples is an experience unique to Kashmir in India.

For the next hour and a half, the trail winds up through the Maple trees. Stick to the trail heading uphill as the ones going down head to some of the nearby villages. The trees give way to clearings in between. Turn around and see the view of the Sonamarg valley which gets better and fuller as you gain height. The Maple forest ends at the top of the ridge and the other side a meadow gently slopes down. Spend a few moments at the ridge taking in the views of the Sonamarg and its neighboring valley. The streams, the meadows, the pines and the town nestled make a wonderful picture. The climb is now over and the trail slopes down into a meadow. The meadow is lined on the left by Silver Birch trees and a few shepherd huts. The carpet of green rolls down from the trees to the end of the 40ft wide meadow. Small brooks which cross the meadow serve as water sources. On the right are small peaks with snow powdered on top of them. This is Shekdur. If you plan to have a short days trek on day one, this is where you pitch your tents for the day. It takes an average trekker about 2 1/2 hours to reach the meadow from the road head and add another half an hour if you decide to break the days trek at the end of the meadow.

Shekdur is a beautiful campsite surrounded by Bhoj trees. This is the only campsite with trees on this trek and therefore adds a good variety to your moments and photographs. If you have started from Srinagar in the morning, make Shekdur your first camp. The next campsite Nichnai is atleast 2 more hours away.

If you started from Sonamarg, Shekdur, just three hours into the trek is too early to camp. Have lunch at the meadows and move ahead to Nichnai. The meadow of Shekdur stretches for half an hour. The gentle descent on the meadow ends in a forest of Bhoj or Silver Birch. Take the trail that goes in the middle of the forest and continue to descend gently. Watch out for the sun rays making their way in between the thick foliage making it a nice show of light and dark.

In 45 minutes, you reach the end of the Birch trees and the trail goes down and climbs back into a river valley. The river valley is the beginning of Nichanai. The trail now is along the right bank of the river going upstream. Look behind to see snow clad peaks from Sonamarg valley. You are now in wide valley but enclosed by mountains on either side. The river, which joins the Sindh eventually flows in speed through the valley. The first 30 minutes is over rocks and your mules will walk very slowly over here.

An hour into the river valley green patches devoid of rocks open up. The river valley widens and you can see the green meadow widening in between the two mountain ranges. Far ahead lie triangular twin snow clad peaks. Choose a flat ground to pitch tents and end the first days trek.

Day 3
Nichnai (11,500ft) to Vishansar lake (12,00ft)

Medium climb to Nichnai pass 13,500ft. Small descent followed by a long flat meadow walk ending near Vishansar Lake. (12 kms, 6 hours).

The days trek is a long walk on meadows with the scenery changing for the better all along. Start by 8 am to give you enough time en route to enjoy the meadows. Your first destination for the day is to cross the Nichnai pass or Vishansar Berry. The pass is visible at a distance from the campsite. It lies just to the right of the twin snow clad peaks. After half an hour of walking along the river, cross the river to move to its left bank. The next one hour, walk on the left bank. Notice that the trail slowly starts ascending as you traverse through the meadow. The following one hour is a climb to the pass.

As you climb, notic e a small lake at the foot of the mountains. The lake is deep blue in colour and you can sense your expectations raising of the main lakes to come on this trek. The pass is deceptive. The ridge seen from the meadow below is not the pass. The trail turns inwards twice and only then does the Nichnai pass come up. From the Nichanai pass, watch the Sonamarg valley and the trail you came from. BSNL phone network tends to work here most times. This is the last point on the trek where you get phone network. The next sign of network is only when you move beyond Gangabal.

The Nichnai pass feels like a wide tunnel. On the left stand a series of snow clad peaks. There are no peaks on the right but the land raises on the right too. Nichnai pass is at an altitude of 13,500 ft. You are just into your second day of the trek and this by any standard is a very fast ascent. It is not uncommon for people to feel the altitude on the climb to Nichnai pass. The good news is that the trail descends from here on. The rocky trail descends rapidly. In the next hour the rocks give way to grass. Red flowers spring out next to your feet. What you see ahead is a wide green meadow stretching for miles with mountains lining the sides. A new river flows down from the pass into the meadow ahead.

Stop here and take in the view of the peaks, the river below and the flowery meadow. Notice to your left a big waterfall splashing down the mountain cliff and joining the river. From the waterfall, the rapid descent ends and you are now walking through the flat wide meadow. On the left are the classic snow clad Himalayan mountains but notice on your right, grey and barren mountains resembling the Ladakh ranges. Walk along in between the two ranges over the lush green carpet of grass. Two main streams flow through the valley. Stick close to the stream on the left. In half an hour, brace yourselves for another stream crossing for the day. The water is icy cold.

Continue in the meadow for an hour and a half until you reach the end of the valley. Another stream flows perpendicularly from your left to your right. This stream originates at the Vishansar lake which is a bit higher on your left. The lake is not seen yet and cannot be seen from the campsite. Pitch your tents anywhere beside the stream coming from the lake. There is ample camping space. The Vishansar lake lies half a km to the left and 100ft higher from the campsite. Head left and follow the stream without crossing it. The lake is two mounds away and takes about 7 minutes to reach. The first impression you get on seeing the Vishansar lake is that it is big. It lies nestled below 4 mountains.

The Kishansar peak though 0.5 km away, reflects in the lake. The reflections are wonderful when the lake is still. The color of the lake depends on the time of the day and the clouds in the sky. Early in the morning, before the sun really shines, expect clear colorless water. The lake starts getting its colors when the sun shines. On a clear sunny morning, the water is absolutely blue. Clouds and the evening sun make it look greenish blue in the later half of the day. Whatever be the color the lake looks wonderful and it is worth catching a glimpse of the lake in all its hues.

These lakes are full of trouts and trout fishing is popular. Obtain a permit from Srinagar for fishing.

Day 4
Acclimatization + Rest Day at Vishansar

Day 5
Vishansar (12,000ft) to Gadsar(12,000ft) via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass (13,750ft)

Steep 2 hour ascent followed by a steep descent followed a gentle walk in the meadows. (5 hours, 10 kms)

The next lake in series is the Kishansar lake. The Kishansar lake lies just about ½ km away and 500ft higher than Vishansar. The Kishansar lake lies at the base of the Kishansar peak. It takes about 45minutes to reach Kishansar lake from the campsite. Move right towards the stream and cross it where it is easy. The trail climbs up on the right side of the Vishansar lake. There are multiple tracks here. For those keen on photography, the one going up is more attractive as you get the view of the meadow and the lake from a height. For those who prefer an easier trail, stick to the flatter trails. Though the two lakes are only 1.2 km away, there is no point where the two lakes are visible together.

Kishansar is also big and blue. It has a big meadow stretching on its right. The lake and the meadow is bordered on the farther side by a ridge line that raises sharply. The trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and on the top of the ridge is the Gadsar pass.

Spend time at the Kishansar meadows photographing the lake from various angles. The next part of the trek is from Kishansar lake side to the top of the ridge. You see a pencil thin line traversing through the mountain side. That is your track to follow. Always stick to the one going higher though any them will take you to the top. It is an hour and a halfs climb to the top of the ridge a moderate pace. 45 minutes into the climb, you will be treated to one of the loveliest views you can ever imagine. Both the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes are in full view together. The view of the twin lakes lasts till you reach the ridge top or the Pass. This is called as the Gadsar pass ? altitude 13,800ft ? the highest point on this trek.

On the other side of the Gadsar pass stretches a long valley with 2-3 small lakes visible. Far in the distance lie a series of snow clad peaks. The peaks lie outside our Line of Control.

It is not uncommon to find snow at the Gadsar pass and also in the initial parts of the descent to the other side. The descent is straightforward. The first small lake that is seen on the left is the Yamsar lake. The locals tend to believe that lord Yama has some association with the lake! Beyond Yamsar is another nameless lake. An hours descent leads you into flat meadows again. This valley is narrower with two ranges running on your either sides. Notice the multicolored flowers growing up out of the green grass. It starts with red and moves on to blue and purple Iris flowers.

When you are in the blue Iris area, you are almost at Gadsar ? one of the prettiest and most pristine of the lakes on this trek. Gadsar is at the base of snow clad cliffs. Blue flowers spring up one one side and snow slabs fall into the lake from the mountain on the other side. Look ahead to see the green blue valley gently slope down. The Yamsir, the nameless lake and Gadsar are all connected by a stream as water flows from the higher lake to the lower. Gadsar is again at 12,500ft.

Choose to make Gadsar you campsite for its sheer beauty but only if you can vow to leave the ground as neat as you found it to be. No one camps at Gadsar. There is a small abandoned army shelter near Gadsar.

If you choose not to camp next to Gadsar, the next place to camp would be the Gadsar army camp. Continue on the downward trail from Gadsar and in half an hour the valley widens up. Spot another blue lake on the left of the valley. Notice the snow clad mountains now give way to lower barren mountains. You have lost considerable altitude again. In another half an hour down the trail, a few Shepherd huts come up. Continue downhill and at the end of the third half hour, the army camp comes up. Gadsar army camp is just a small hut housing 5-8 army men. To move beyond the army camp, one needs permission from their Head quarters. The Head quarters is 3 miles further away down into the tree line near a village. The Gadsar camp communicates with the HQ through walkie talkies. The HQ is equipped with a satellite phone of the army.

If you are near the Gadsar army camp, it is best to report to them as soon as possible. It takes 2-3 hours for their green signal to come through. All details of the trekkers and staff including original id cards are recorded, collected and checked.

Day 6
Gadsar (12,000ft) to Satsar (12,000ft)

Gentle descent for 1 hour followed by a steep ascent for 3 hours followed a flat meadow walk. (6 hours, 12 kms)

From the army camp move left towards the stream. The trail crosses the stream and heads up the mountain. The altitude at the stream is 10,600ft. The Satsar camp is at 12,000ft and almost 10 kms away. Crossing the stream is the easiest way to trek. If one really wants to avoid getting their feet wet in the icy cold water, then head to the bridge which a kilometer away and cross the stream. The climb up is steeper if one goes to the bridge.

After crossing the stream, take the trail that goes up the mountain. The trail now looks like a typical western ghat trail. The terrain feels very similar. You are just above the tree line. Trees and the river valley are visible below you. The hour and a half long climb takes you up by 1100ft. Once beyond the 11,500ft altitude, the climb graduates to a traverse. The trail bends round to the left and leaves the river valley. You are now walking on a flat trail surrounded by mountains on a meadow. To you right are a few deep craters. This place is called as Maengandob.

The landscape ahead is captivating. Isolated mountains stand in front. Towards the right is a small ridge. In between is a flat green bed with a stream flowing in between. Choose to camp here if Gadsar lake was your last camp. If the army camp was your start, it makes sense to cover a little more distance today and camp near the first of the Satsar lakes. Satsar is actually a collection of 7 lakes. You can actually find 4 or 5 lakes with water, depending on the season you choose to trek.

Beyond the ridge on the right is the Satsar army check post. It is the 3rd line of defence from the LOC. The same process of ID checking, collection and questioning repeats here too. Finish this today so that tomorrow is a clean day of trekking.

Ten minutes out of the army camp is the first of the Satsar lakes. The lake is pretty big and looks picturesque in its green setting with mountains in front. Choose a place to camp here for the day.

Day 7
Satsar (12,000ft) to Gangabal twin lakes (11,500ft)

Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by long steep ascent and long steep descent followed by gradual up and down walk. (6 hours, 9 kms)

The days trek goes up and down replicating the trek as a whole which mostly goes up and down. Trek up half an hour out of camp, to reach the biggest Satsar lake. The terrain is bouldery and it is more of a boulder hopping exercise than anything else. The biggest of the Satsar lakes is also the last in the sequence. After the last lake the trail starts to descend. Continue for half an hour on the main trail until you see the forest line ahead to your left. The right side is a ridgeline about 1000ft higher. It is time to gain height again. The altitude at the base of the climb is 11,800ft. Take the zig zag pony track to climb up to the top of the first ridge. A 45 minute trek with limited breaks will see you on top of the first ridge. Once on top, you see two more ridges to climb. The trail from the base to top is barren and rocky. Looking behind at the opposite mountains, spot the Gujjar huts amidst the tall pines. You will not fail to notice the bareness of the mountains here and the greenery on the other side.

A total two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. The altimeter reads about 13,400ft. The best part however is the surprise view you get from the ridge top. Two lakes lie next to one another. A stream takes water from the higher lake to the lower. If you look keenly, two more blue lakes are seen one on either side at a distance. The smaller lakes are nameless but the biggest amongst the set is the Gangabal. Its companion by the side is the Nundkol. You now know your destination. It is 1400ft below you. The route descends a bit more and ascends again to the lake. Take pictures of both sides and brace yourself for a steep stony descent. Your destination is either the Gangabal or the Nundkol. The ascent is dry but on the descent you cross a stream mid way. Fill your empty bottles with the cold water and move on.

An hour and a half steep descent brings you to green meadows again. The meadow is not too wide but stretches from your right to left. A kilo meter down left, you see the tree line again. Once at the base, the lake shore is still a good distance. The destination is seen but seems far away.

A quick climb, a shorter descent and a stream crossing over a wooden log bridge brings you to the shores of Nundkol lake. Notice that this lake is not as pristine as the other lakes you saw on the trek. Remnants of camping are there all around. Lot of people trek up from Naranag to Gangabal and go back as a weekend outing. You will wish they spared time and thought to clean up the mess they created by these beautiful lakes.

The Nundkhol lake lies at the base of the Harmukh peak. The Harmukh glacier hangs on the the sides of the rocky edges of the mountain. Both the Gangabal and Nundkhol are famous for trout fishing.

The Gangabal lake is about 20 minutes away from Nundkhol. A fiery stream flows on the right of the two lakes connecting them. The stream has to be crossed to go to Gangabal from Nandkol. Do not try to cross the stream at the lower levels but go all the way to the bank of Gangabal and on the right you find a good man made bridge laid out. Gangabal is huge. A parikrama of either of the lakes will easily take an hour.

Day 8
Gangabal (11,500ft) to Naranag (7,450ft) Drive to Srinagar

Gradual descent followed by steep descent. (6 hours, 11kms)

The days trek is a killer on your toes and knees. From the Gangabal campsite head down along the stream towards the tree line. Don't walk beside the stream but walk along the ridge on the right. 30 minutes into the trail, your aircel phone could get glimpses of network just enough to tell home that you are alive. The ridge ends and you descend to a green flat meadow on the right. The Harmukh peak looks impressive when you look back. The green meadow has little yellow flowers growing all over and you start walking gingerly to avoid stepping over them.

An hour out of the campsite, you hit the fringes of the tree line. Pine trees line the meadows and you also see traces of civilization with the presence of a log hut. Do not walk into the forest directly but stick to its fringes and walk towards the right. As a trademark of this trek, you don't lose altitude now but start to climb up a bit. You drop to 10,800ft at the tree line but climb again to 11,000ft. For about 6 kms you never really lose altitude and you are forever around the 10,800ft mark making your way in and out of the Pine forest and finally entering it fully. Only after walking for 2/3 of the distance does the true descent begin. The descent is now really steep. The trail is a well trodden muddy one through the thick of the pines. The last 4 kms sees you dropping more than 3000ft. It is not rare to spot lot of people trekking up here from Naranag headed only to Gangabal.

Naranag slowly comes in sight at around 8500ft but there is quite a bit more to go. The last stretch of the last day does become an endurance test but soon the stone paved village track comes up and in no time you enter the main road of Narnag.

How safe is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatization, most treks in the Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced ascents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reasons for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.

b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Altitude Adventure reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Altitude Adventure trek leaders.

c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Altitude Adventure reserves the right to send a trekker back if, in the opinion of our trek leader, they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.

The Trip Cost Includes

  • Cost include GST of 5%
  • Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 6 (Sonamarg to Gangabal). You will be camping on all days of the trek (3 per tent).
  • Meals – All meals from dinner at Sonamarg on Day 1 to lunch at Naranag on Day 7 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
  • Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
  • Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
  • Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
  • Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
  • Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.

The Trip Cost Excludes

  • Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Srinagar and drop you back from Naranag. This will cost approx. Rs. 2,300 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
  • Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Sonamarg and return from Naranag.
  • Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 1,750 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Sonamarg (Rs. 350 per day inclusive of taxes). Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
  • Stay at Srinagar on the last day
  • Personal expenses of any kind
  • Anything apart from inclusions

Bare necessities

  1. Trekking shoes: You will need trekking shoes with good grip. Sports shoes will not be comfortable enough.
  2. Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.

Clothes

On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.

  1. Four warm layers: On the pass crossing day, you will need at least four warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece, one light sweater and one padded jacket) for this trek.
  2. Three trek pants: Wear one pair and carry two pairs. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
  3. Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry two. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
  4. Thermals (Mandatory): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in June. There might be snow at the upper campsites regardless of the season. So carry a pair of sunglasses.
  2. Suncap: The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.
  3. Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.
  4. Balaclava: You may use woolen scarves instead as well.
  5. Socks (2 pairs):  Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
  6. Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory

Others

  1. Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
  2. ToiletriesSunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
  3. Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
  4. Two water bottles: 1 litre each
  5. Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit 

  1. Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  2. Dexamethasone – one strip
  3. Nifedipine – 5 tablets
  4. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  5. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  6. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  7. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  8. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  9. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  10. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  11. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  12. Gauze – 1 small roll
  13. Band aid – 10 strips
  14. Cotton – 1 small roll
  15. ORS – 10 packets
  16. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  17. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
  18. Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
  19. Anti fungal powder

Mandatory Documents

Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp.
  • Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
  • Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
  • Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF

A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Altitude Adventure has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.

Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60-70 minutes before the start of the trek. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.

In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.

Here’s a fitness routine that works:In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –

–>Target completing 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin. –> Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in less than 35 mins. –>If you are above 45 years and is comfortable with brisk walking, then target covering 10km in 90 minutes.

If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek — one of you covering 5km in less than 35 mins along with your picture and the other with splits of your run.

Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each

This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover in high altitude carrying your backpacks.  You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.

Flexibility

Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.

  1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Altitude Adventure will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.

In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please fill the cancellation form and cancel. Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.

The cancellation charges are as under.

  • Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
  • Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
  • Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.

Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (cancellation charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.

2. Backpack offloading: Altitude Adventure expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.

Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1,650 plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 375 per day inclusive of tax. Partial offloading is not allowed.  The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/trolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.

Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.

  1. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Altitude Adventure will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.

Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Altitude Adventure trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.

4. Non-liability: Altitude Adventure is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.

5. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.

6. Drinking and smoking: during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.

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Frequently asked Questions

When is the best time to go Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

July to September. More snow in the months of July.

Trip Reviews
4.53 stars
- based on19 reviews
  1. Mind-blowing beauty. I’m still hung over.
    Heena Bajpai22nd August, 2018

    Kashmir Great Lakes trek has Mind-blowing beauty. Mother Nature has given her treasures to this terrain. The landscape that you see during this trek lasts with you forever. I did the Trek with Altitude Adventure India and I’m still hung over. It’s an amazing trek and I’m out of words. Altitude Adventure India is just great in arranging this trek. Everything from selection of itinerary, camp sites, trek leaders and support staff is just perfect.
  2. Easy and Hassle Free
    Ravi Gupta20th August, 2018

    It is definitely an amazing trek with to witness Kashmirs Natural Beauty at the virgin locations. It can be an ideal first trek if you are ready for its challenges. It’s a mix of adventure and ease mixed together. Doing this trek with Altitude Adventure India is easy and hassle free.
  3. Enjoy the beauty of meadows and beautiful alpine lakes
    Kavya Seth18th August, 2018

    In this trek you get to experience beautiful alpine lakes, watch snow peaked mountains, cross streams , walk on huge boulders and enjoy the beauty of beautiful green meadows. Very rarely you will come across any trek which offers you all these and much more. You are definitely going to forget this trek easily after you are back. Do it with Altitude Adventure India for one of the best experience.
  4. Switzerland of India
    Sushil Punjabi15th August, 2018

    I feel I have returned form a Switzerland Trip.. Yes it is definitely comparable if not better. I can go on and on about this trek. I have become a story teller thanks to this trek
  5. Most beautiful campsite at Gangbal
    Pratima Shenoy12th August, 2018

    I had heard a lot about Kashmir great lakes and the beauty of Kashmir. But what I experienced was beyond my imagination. I was swept of my feet by this trek. Gangbal was the most beautiful base camp I have ever seen.
  6. Most fulfilling and personally enriching experience
    Amitabh Vazirani8th August, 2018

    Kashmir Great Lakes Trek was my first ever trek. I thought it would be an easy trek as I had seen many pictures with meadows. But it was not so. Thankfully the team of Altitude Adventure India helped in every aspect - physically, mentally and emotionally to successfully complete this adventurous trek. It is now probably one of the most fulfilling and personally enriching experiences of my life. Thanks !!!!
  7. Total awesomeness in natures lap
    Nandini Ghosh2nd August, 2018

    This trek is total awesomeness in natures lap. Every day you cross the mighty passes and valleys and get to see some mind-blowing views of lakes. Views from the high passes are awe inspiring and the valleys are splendid. You come across Kashmiri shepherds along with their flock. Words cannot describe what I saw and felt. Thanks to Altitude Adventure India who organized it so well.
  8. Truly Incredible India
    Jatin Soni31st July, 2018

    I got to see what I had only dreamt. Thanks Altitude Adventure India for that. Its beautiful !!! Truly incredible India
  9. Paradise on Earth
    Misha Sharma28th July, 2018

    Its said that Kashmir is a Paradise on Earth. And you can experience real paradise when you complete this part of Kashmir on foot. This trek is the most beautiful one of all. The trek is a bit tough, not a walk in the park. So prepare well else it can test your endurance and you may spoil your experience
  10. Well Organized
    Ajoy Sen26th July, 2018

    Well Organized, Good trek leader, nutritious and tasty food
  11. Spectacular Team
    Milan Sharma22nd July, 2018

    It was a perfect combo of beautiful views and spectacular trek. I can never forget the experience in my life that I had with this trek. Sometimes I feel whether I was in a dream, the places were so beautiful Thank you Altitude Adventure India for providing this experience
  12. Incredibly Beautiful
    Rajan Kapoor20th July, 2018

    The Kashmir valley is incredibly beautiful and trek passes over wonderful mountains to mesmering views of the glacial lakes. I am glad I signed up for this trek with Altitude Adventure India as earlier I was planning a different trek.
  13. Trek leader and guide were both excellent
    Chetan Patel18th July, 2018

    Our trek leader and guide were both excellent and very helpful. I was surprised by how awesome the food was, during the trek. The helper staff comprised of local people and I was happy to see that the trek had become a source of income for the locals.
  14. Perfect arrangement
    Irfan shaikh18th July, 2018

    This was my first Himalayan trek and it gave me a perfect combination of incredible views and fun of the travel. My trek with Altitude Adventure India was extremely comfortable. The arrangements were perfect. Good sleeping, large tents and delicious lunch are just one of the few reasons to trek with Altitude Adventure India.
  15. Nature at its best
    Pramod Golani15th July, 2018

    The best part was the landscapes in its purest form. It was nature at its best displaying its vibrant colors in different forms. The support team of Altitude Adventure India along with the cooks and porters complemented the trek very well.
  16. Take a bow guys
    Minal Raheja15th July, 2018

    Graced to have been part of this mesmerising trek. It is a memory of a lifetime. And special thanks to Altitude Adventure India without whom I would not have experienced this beauty. The staff was so polite and kind. Take a bow guys. Thanks !!!
  17. Heartfelt Journey with amazing team
    Kamal Gupta12th July, 2018

    Kashmir Great lakes trek gives varied experience over all kinds of terrains, be it crossing freezing cold streams, walking over huge boulders, sliding through the ice or walking blissfully in the silence of the meadows. It is a heartfelt journey that leaves lifts your spirit.
  18. Fantastic Trek
    Arjun Rajpal8th July, 2018

    Each and Everything about the Kashmir Great Lakes trek was fantastic
  19. Mind blowing scenery and awesome team
    Kavya Johri6th July, 2018

    Thankfully we had great weather to experience the mind blowing scenery of this trek. Altitude Adventure India left no stone unturned to make this a memorable trek for me. Refreshing tea was served every morning in our tents on all days. It is actually called Kawah and it was just heavenly stuff what we were drinking as it was made local herbs and spices.

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Price From INR14,450/person
14,450
Total 14,450 INR

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