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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek - 7 Days

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
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The Kashmir Alpine Lakes Trek also known as the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley that unwrap the serene beauty of the Kashmir region secluded within the mountains. It is one of the treks in the Indian Himalayan region that whirls along the tracks to some of the high altitude lakes of India that glisters in the midst of vast alpine meadows, which are dotted with colourful orchids. The trek is a potpourri of alpine high altitude fresh water glacier lakes that consist of Vishnasar Lake, Krishnasar Lake, Yamsar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Satsar Lake, Nandkol and Gangabal Lake.

Gangabal Lake

Kashmir, a word that evokes a thousand emotions of love, grandeur, exotic and in the words of Firdaus, heaven. Some say it is a paradise on earth, others say it is a paradise by itself, but indeed Kashmir outstand all the stunning places on earth. Pristine and untouched, the lakes over here be it Dal Lake, Vishansar Lake or Gangabal Twin lakes are surreal and a rare sight.On this trek we explore the most pristine of combination of alpine lakes, far-reaching meadows, high altitude passes and the vast unexplored vistas of Kashmir Himalayas

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a trekking journey of 8 days and the trekking is best done during the period of July till September when the meadow track remains filled with blooming flowers and verdant greenery. After this period, touring the valley in the Sonamarg region may not be that pleasant as rains and snow may hit anytime as change of weather is pretty much unpredictable in the high altitude regions. The temperature in Kashmir Valley in July stays from 15C to 20C and in the night drops to a minimum of 1C. But if the trek is done in September, the weather can be cooler with day time temperature hovering between 15C to 10C whereas in the night it may fall to a minimum of -3C. It is one of the best monsoon treks of the country.

Sonamarg Valley

The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek commences from Sonamarg, which is located at an altitude of 2,723 meters and leads to the floor of Nichnai Pass at an elevation of 3,500 meters. The easy climb passes through several shepherds' settlements and meadows dotted with colourful orchids. Further, the trail proceeds to Vishansar Lake en route to Kolahoi base camp at 4,140 meters and Lidderwat at 3,050 meters. As you get closer to the Kolahoi glacier the track becomes harder and the terrain rugged, but the increasingly spectacular views of the Kolahoi Peak urge you on.

Megandob Lake

From here the trek heads to Gadsar Lake via the Gadsar Pass and passes through an untamed terrain. Moving deep into the Kashmir valley the trek leads to Megandob, a meadow that offers a bird's-eye view down the Sindh valley to the upper reaches of the Vale of Kashmir. Thence the trekking trail in the Kashmir Valley climbs up to Gaj Pass, from where one can get enchanting views of the Gaganbal and Nundkol Lakes. The sacred peak of Harimukh rises above the lake, making it a divine experience. It is said that pilgrimages to the base of Harimukh and Gaganbal long preceded the Amarnath Yatra.

 

Day 1
Drive from Srinagar to Sonmarg (9,100 ft, 4-5 hrs)

Day 2
Trek from Sonmarg to Nichnai (11,500 ft) (9-10 km / 5-6 hrs)

Day 3
Trek from Nichnai to Vishansar Lake (12,000 ft) (12 km/ 5-6 hrs) via Nichnai Pass (13,100 ft)

Day 4
Trek from Vishansar Lake to Gadsar (12,500 ft) (12-14 km / 6-7 hrs) via Gadsar Pass (13,800 ft) (Exhausting Day)

Day 5
Trek from Gadsar to Satsar (12,000ft) (11-12 km / 5- 6 hrs)

Day 6
Trek from Satsar to Gangabal Twin Lakes (11,500 ft) (11-12 km / 5-6 hrs)

Day 7
Trek from Gangabal to Naranag and Drive to Srinagar (7,450 ft) (11-12 km, 5-6 hrs)

Day 1:  Drive from Srinagar to Sonmarg 

  • Drive:  90 km
  • Altitude: 9,100 ft
  • Time taken:  3 - 4  hours drive from Srinagar.
  • Stay: Overnight stay in tents  (Shitkadi Village)
  • Remember to carry your ID proof in original and 2 photo copies as we have to submit them at the army check post.

Sonamarg Valley

If booked in advance, We can arrange your transport from TRC Srinagar to Sonmarg which is a short drive of around 3 to 4 hours. We have organized the car with a safe and experienced driver. Reach Sonmarg by evening and stay in tents ahead of Sonmarg (Shitkadi Village) . The trek begins at Shitkadi, which is a few kilometres ahead of Sonamarg. Pickup Cost is Rs 500 one side extra. Since there are no shops around ensure that you have all that you need already and remember to carry your ID proof in original and 2 photo copies as we have to submit them at the army check post.

Shitkadi Campsite

 

Day 2 Trek from Sonmarg to Nichnai 

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft
  • Trek: 9-10 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Sonmarg. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

Morning view from Shitkadi Campsite

After breakfast in the lush green meadows and rising sun from the peaks we will move towards Nichnai. It’s a gradual ascend to this place in almost 4 hours. A little bit after the start you will spot a Dhaba which is the last evidence of civilisation till the end of our trek in Naranag. Continuing to a beautiful meadow from where we can see Sonamarg from above. Maple and Pine trees surround this meadow. Nichnai base camp is a very beautiful place with ice cold, crystal clear streams flowing from the mountains; one will love to see the shepherds with their sheeps. After our crew has pitched the tents we will prepare for our overnight stay in the mountain camp area.

On the way to Nichnai campsite

 

Day 3: Trek from Nichnai to Vishansar Lake via Nichnai Pass 

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft
  • Trek: 10-12 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Nichnai. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

View from Nichnai Pass

Starting early in the morning; around 08:00 AM, start the trek towards the Nichnai Pass and enjoy the stunning views of the lush valleys and the untouched beauty of the region. Hereafter, cross the river and continue hiking through the banks of the river and arrive at the Nichnai Pass or the Vishansar Berry. Arriving at the pass, which is located 13,500 m above the sea level, witness and enjoy the meticulous beauty of the pass and the snow-covered peaks all around it.
Hereafter, the trek will undergo a steep descend and will lead you to a pictorial meadow of colorful flowers; while on this trek, you can also catch glimpses of a cascade that finally joins a river. Here onwards, continue with the hike and upon arriving a flat valley, continue towards its end and arrive at the campsite. Gazing on the left of this trail, you can also behold captivating views of the Himalayan Range and also the Vishansar Lake; overnight stay in the camp.

Vishensar lake is a natural spring water lake with a total radius of 2 – 2.5 kilometers. The water remains warm throughout the whole year. The total area of the Vishensar lake is about 9 squarekilometers. The quality of trout fish is fantastic. It´s a red spotted brown trout which is originally from Australia. Long back the seeds were put in the lake. Our camp will be at Vishensar overnight stay. Vishensar is the 1st lake in the Great Lake Trek and very famous for its water  and fish quality.

Vishensar lake

Exploring Kishansar Lake

Day 4: Trek from Vishnusar to Gadsar via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass (13,800 ft) (Exhausting Day)

  • Altitude: 12,500 ft
  • Trek: 12-14 Km / 6-7 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate to Difficult
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Vishnusar. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

On the way to Gadsar pass

This chilly morning, witness the Kishansar Peak casting its reflection on the azure lake waters. Start the trek for the day towards the lakeside and reach the Kishansar Peak, which is situated around 500ft above the campsite. Here onwards, ascend to the other side of the water reservoir. The trek till here comprises of both easy and tough terrains.

Kishansar Lake & Vishensar lake (Pic taken in month of June)

 

Kishensar lake is located above Vishensar lake and below Gadsar pass. Here you will see the route towards Gadsar Pass which is a barren mountain  with no trees but a lot of green. The Kishensar peak can be seen very clearly. It will take about 1hour from Vishensar lake to reach to Kishensar with a mid gradual ascend. After a stop over by the water our group will start ascending Gadsar pass which will take about 2 – 3 hours to reach the top. From here you will see both the lakes at the same time from above. Believe us: it looks magnificiant and fantastic. Beyond ones imagination – from here we will come down to Gadsar lake which is another 2 – 3 hours descend to reach.  We will have our packed lunch here, rest and move towards Gadsar valley and its stream. Our camp for the night will be here.

An army camp is here and we have to show our identity wehther that is your passport or some other valid ID proof. As our guides are professionals and possess the whole “kashmir valley guide licence” therefore we have no restriction to pitch our tents at the camp site whereever we desire – no need to stay within the army area.

View from Gadsar pass

Gadsar lake

 

Day 5: Trek from Gadsar to Satsar 

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft
  • Trek: 11-12 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Easy
  • Water sources: Carry at least 2 litres of water from Gadsar. You will find rivulets along the trail but the water might not be suitable to drink.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

In the morning of our 5th day we are moving from Gadasar valley to Satsaran lake which will take about 4 – 5 hours. It´s a medium up hill walk through beautiful meadows and you will get to see wild strawberries. They are easy to spot in the green grass. Go and eat some – they are delicious and juicy. After reaching Satsaran lake we move towards Satsaran mountain and pass by an army camp area and have again to show our identity cards. We continue moving towards the camp site of Mangandub and this is our overnight stay.

Satsaran lake

 

Day 6: Trek from Satsar to Gangabal Twin Lakes

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft
  • Trek: 11-12 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient:  Difficult
  • Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You will find a stream mid way during the descent to refill your water bottles.
  • Stay:  Overnight stay in tents

 

Twin lakes - Gangabal and Nundkol

 

A true test of caliber, this is the day when you will have you push your physical and mental limits! Trudge through rocks and boulders ridden terrain, pass the last of the Satsar lakes, and start hiking downwards for half an hour till you arrive at the forest line. Here onwards, start ascending upward and reach an altitude of 13,400 ft; during this climb, you can witness several ridges at different heights and the quaint Gujjar huts as well. From the summit, you can also behold the fascinating views of the twin lakes: Gangabal and Nundkol, that are connected to each other by a picturesque stream and are known for trout-fishing.

Swimming in Nundkol Lake

 

Post this; trek through a sharp and rocky trail and make it to a gurgling stream, passing which, you will reach a lush meadow that advent towards the Nundkol Lake, which is also a popular weekend getaway among the locals. Trekking for around 20 minutes from the Nundkol Lake, you will finally arrive at the Gangabal Lake and by crossing the bridge across the lake; you will arrive at the campsite; dinner and overnight stay in the camp.

Gangabal Lake

 

Day 7: Trek from Gangabal to Naranag and Drive to Srinagar 

  • Altitude:  7,450 ft
  • Trek: 11-12 Km / 5-6 Hrs
  • Trek gradient: Moderate
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Gangabal. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.

On your final day of the Kashmir Lake Trek, start from the Gangabal camp, ramble on grassy land dotted with yellow flowers and pine forest. Descend are reach Naranag, the last leg of your trek. Reach Naranag Village in Ganderbal District. If you wish, you can visit Naranag Temple. Be driven back to Srinagar and unwind in guest house for the night. On Day 8, you’ll reach Srinagar between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm. You can book your travel any time after 8 pm.

The Trip Cost Includes

  • Transport from Srinagar to Srinagar
  • Food all along the Trek(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and a cup of coffee or tea)
  • Food as per menu on the trek
  • Forest Permits/Camping Charges , if any
  • Tents, Sleeping bags, mats,Technical equipment
  • Safety Equipments.
  • First Aid Medical Kit(Your Trek Leader will carry the Medical Kit but we also advise to bring yourself for your own use, as far as possible)
  • Trek guide, cook, helpers, porters & mules for carrying common luggage.
  • Services of a Mountaineering qualified & professional Trek Leader.

The Trip Cost Excludes

  • Hotel Stay in Srinagar.
  • Meals during road Journeys.
  • Porter/Mull to carry personal luggage.
  • Insurance.
  • Any expense of personal nature.
  • Any expense not specified in the inclusion list.

Trekking Gear

  • A rucksack with rain cover
  • A water bottle or a hydration pack
  • A Hand/Head Torch with spare batteries
  • UV Protection Sunglasses
  • A trekking pole

Clothing:

Since it is a high altitude trek, at least 3 layers of clothing is mandatory. A full sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket, and a padded jacket are imperative. An additional layer (Thermal bodywarmers) for the evenings in the high altitude campsites are strongly recommended

  • Quick Dry Warm lower or Track Pants - 2
  • Full sleeves T-shirts - 2
  • Thermal Bodywarmer Upper & Lower - 1
  • Fleece Jacket - 1
  • Padded Jacket -1 (Goose down or feather is preferable)
  • Full sleeves sweater - 1 (Needed if you feel cold at high altitudes despite 4 layers)
  • Rainwear (Jacket & Pants) - 1
  • Thick woolen socks -  1 pair
  • Cotton socks - at least 2-3 pairs
  • Undergarments - 1 for every day of trekking
  • Pair of Warm Gloves - 1
  • Woolen cap - 1

Footwear

  • Hiking shoes (Preferably ankle high) -1
  • Pair of lightweight Slipper/Sandals - 1 pair.

Toiletries

    • Sunscreen lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, toilet roll, cold cream, small towel.
    • Anti-fungal cream: Carry an antifungal cream if you are sensitive to sweating and prone to skin irritations around genitals or groin area due to lack of bathing.
    • For women:
      • Tampons or sanitary napkins,
      • 2-3 zip pouches to dispose off non-biodegradable waste
      • Vaginal wash to avoid any irritation due to lack of bathing.

Miscellaneous

    • Water bottle
    • Camera (optional)
    • Personal medicine kit. Though our trek leaders carry a fully equipped first-aid kit, make sure you consult your doctor before the trek in case you have any special ailment.
    • Dry fruits, energy bars

Kashmir Great Lakes is a high altitude trek. Naturally, the risks associated with a high altitude trek are different from other treks. Trekkers will climb over 3,000 ft on Day 2, which increases the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness since they would not have had time to acclimatise to the altitude.  Since later camps are at a similar altitude, the risk reduces as you go ahead.

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.

Breathing exercises

If you’re trekking to Kashmir Great Lakes trek, note that the temperature drops to around -3 to 5 degree Celcius at night. During the day, the temperature will be at around 10 to 12 degrees. This extreme temperature could make breathing slightly difficult. Doing breathing exercises before the trek will help. Expand your lungs and learn to breathe deep. This will help you inhale more oxygen and help you breathe comfortably.

Fitness exercises

  • Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins or Walk continuously for 10 km (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better)
  • Hold your breath for 40 seconds
  • 3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch
  • Push Ups – 10
  • Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets

 

Monitoring health on a trek

Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.

On the trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects a day.

  • Oxygen Level
  • Pulse Rate 

High Altitude Medical Kit

Your trek leader will also be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, DexamethasoneYour Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high campsites for any emergency situations.

Acclimatisation in high  altitude

This is one of the most important aspects of travelling in the high Himalayas and cannot be ignored or set aside. Acclimatisation basically means our body adjusting to lower levels of oxygen (rarefied air) & reduced air pressure as me move up. In case one does not acclimatise properly there are chances of the person facing extreme discomfort and this can be fatal in extreme cases. While there is no set route to getting properly acclimatised there are a general precautions and steps that one can take to initiate good acclimatisation.

By Air :- 
Closest airport is Srinagar International Airport which is well connected via flights from Delhi.

By Train :- 
Jammu is the nearest railway station to Srinagar, which is at a distance of 290 km. Jammu railway station is well connected to all major cities in India by rail. Direct train services are available from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum.

By Bus:- 
Srinagar is linked by the National Highway 1A to the rest of the country. J & K state road transport operates comfortable buses from Jammu. The Journey takes about 10 hours to reach Srinagar.

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FAQS

What is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a wonderful trek for first time trekkers in the Himalayas and considered as beginner’s delight.

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

The best time for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is during months between July to September.

Will there be snow on this trek?

You might find snow at the Gadsar Pass and on the initial part of the descent after the pass, on Day 5 of your trek if you’re trekking in July. During other months, you are likely to cross a couple of snow bridges.

How difficult is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is considered as a moderate high altitude trek. But you need to have good physical fitness to complete this trek. Doing cardio vascular exercises is very helpful for preparing for this trek.

What will we do if it rains?

If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.

Can I leave traveling clothes behind and collect them after the trek?

This will not be possible since the trek begins at Sonamarg and ends at Gangabal.

Is Diamox advisable ?

Diamox help in acclimatization but we do not advise it please consult your Doctor before taking it.

Who will lead and who all will go along with us ?

All our treks are led by certified & Experienced Trek Leaders/Guides. We believe in sustainable adventure eco-tourism which in effect means that our teams are locally sourced. Other than a Trek lead we in our team we will have local Guides, Cook, Helpers and Porters.

How big are the groups ?

We make it a point not to have more than 15 people in a trekking group as we believe that the best way to enjoy adventure is in small sustainable groups.

What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?

We have well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.

Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?

You will get decent mobile connectivity only in Srinagar. So make sure you finish your important telephone calls before starting from there, and inform family members about poor connectivity during the trek. Prepaid SIM cards do not work in Kashmir. You will not have access to electricity charging points anywhere during the trek.

Can I offload my backpack on a mule/porter. What are the charges for the same?

When you are in the mountains you should be self-sufficient and you should carry your own backpack. The charges to offload a backpack of roughly 9-10 kg or less is about 300 per day.

Can you customize a Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

Yes Kashmir Great Lakes Trek can be customised, if you would like to travel independently, you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient time for any number of people. The Cost for private customized trip is fixed on the basis of group size, trek area, duration and trek style.

Price From INR14,000 INR12,900/person
12,900
Total 12,900 INR

Trip Facts

  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • 7 days
  • Moderate
  • 13,800 ft
  • Day time: 17°C-20°C; Night time: 3°C-4°C
  • 72-75 Kms
  • July to September
  • 10-15 trekkers
  • Srinagar To Srinagar
  • Jammu
  • Srinagar airport
  • Meals while on trek (Veg + Egg)
  • Camping

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