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Kashmir, often referred to as “heaven on earth,” is home to a myriad of natural wonders. Among these, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek stands out as a truly magnificent experience. This trek, which winds through some of the most pristine landscapes, is a must-try for any adventure enthusiast.
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a moderate-level trek that takes about eight days to complete. It covers a total distance of approximately 72 kilometers, starting from Sonamarg and ending at Naranag. The trek reaches a maximum altitude of around 13,750 ft, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges and valleys.
The journey begins in the beautiful alpine meadows of Sonamarg, which are known for their scenic beauty and serene ambiance. As you ascend, you’ll pass through lush green pastures, dense forests of maple and pine, and rugged mountain trails. These trails will lead you to some of the most spectacular lakes in the region, including Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar, and Gangabal. Each lake has its own unique charm and offers a different perspective of the majestic landscape.
The trek is not just about the lakes though. Along the way, you’ll encounter a diverse range of flora and fauna, including wildflowers, medicinal plants, and a variety of wildlife. The region is home to many rare and endangered species, making it a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
One of the highlights of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is the stunning view of the twin peaks of the Harmukh range. Towering over the landscape, these peaks provide a spectacular backdrop to the shimmering waters of the lakes. The sight of the sun setting behind these peaks, casting a golden glow over the landscape, is truly a sight to behold.
Despite the physical challenges, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is an incredibly rewarding experience. The pristine beauty of the landscape, the tranquility of the surroundings, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the trek make it a truly unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a beginner looking for a challenge, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek offers something for everyone. With its stunning landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and awe-inspiring views, it’s easy to see why this trek is considered one of the beautiful in India.
Sonamarg Altitude: 2,700 m (8,858 ft)
Welcome to Sonamarg, the meadow of gold! Situated at an altitude of approximately 9,186 ft (2,800 m), Sonamarg is the gateway to Ladakh and the starting point of your Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the stunning views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks and the Sind River flowing through the valley. The crisp mountain air and the serene environment set the tone for the incredible journey ahead.
You will meet your trek leader, guide, and staff who will accompany you throughout your trek. These experienced individuals will ensure your safety and comfort during the trek. They will also provide you with valuable insights into the region’s geography, culture, and history.
In the evening, gather around for some warm tea and snacks. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow trekkers and share your excitement about the upcoming adventure. Your trek leader will brief you on the trek itinerary, the do’s and don’ts, and answer any questions you might have.
As the day comes to an end, retire to your tents pitched in a meadow near Sonamarg. The peaceful ambiance and the starlit sky make for a perfect setting for your first night in the mountains.
Distance: 10 km
Time: 6 hours
Nichnai Altitude: 3,505 m (11,500 ft)
Wake up early today as we are embarking on the first day of our Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Start your day with some light stretching exercises to prepare your body for the trek ahead. After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to hit the trail.
The trek begins with a walk through enchanting forests of maple, pine, and bhoj. As you tread along a water stream, soak in the tranquility and the beauty of nature around you. An hour into the trek, you’ll reach a flat top known as Table Top. This is a great spot to take a short break and refuel. Enjoy some delicious Maggi or snacks at the local Dhaba and gear up for the next part of the trek.
Post the break, the trail ascends to the top of a ridge. The climb can be challenging but don’t worry, we’ll be taking it slow and steady. Remember, this is the first day of the trek, so it’s important to pace yourself and acclimatize to the altitude. Once we reach the top, we’ll start descending to the other side, walking alongside the stream.
Lunch will be by the stream, a perfect spot to relax and enjoy your meal amidst nature. Post lunch, the trek becomes a gradual ascent up to the Nichnai campsite. The walk is scenic and refreshing, setting the mood for the days to come.
Upon reaching the Nichnai campsite, you’ll find your tents set up and ready. Settle down and unwind as the sun sets and the stars begin to twinkle. We’ll be camping here for the night, surrounded by the calm and serenity of the mountains.
Distance: 11 km
Time: 6 hours
Nichnai Pass Altitude: 4,100 m (13,451 ft)
Vishansar Camp Altitude: 3,650 m (11,965 ft)
Get ready for an exciting day as we tackle the first pass of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek – the Nichnai Pass. After a wholesome breakfast at the Nichnai campsite, we’ll cross a stream or a snow bridge, depending on the snow conditions. From here, it’s a steady climb to the top of the pass. The pass is visible from the campsite, serving as a constant motivation as you ascend. Remember, it’s not a race, so take your time, maintain a steady pace, and stay hydrated.
Once you conquer the Nichnai Pass, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. There’s also a Dhaba at the top of the pass where you can rest and enjoy some snacks. What’s more, you can even connect with your loved ones back home as the Nichnai Pass is one of the few spots on the trek where you’ll find a calling network.
After spending some time at the pass, it’s time to start descending. The rest of the day is comparatively easier as you walk on flat ground and through beautiful meadows. We’ll stop for lunch next to a stream, another perfect spot to relax and refuel amid nature.
Post lunch, we’ll continue our journey through vast meadows, moving towards our next campsite – Vishansar. This is a large campsite, often buzzing with activities. You might find some of our staff playing cricket or volleyball in the meadows. Feel free to join in; it’s a great way to keep active and bond with fellow trekkers.
We aim to reach Vishansar by the afternoon, giving us enough time to visit the spectacular Vishansar Lake in the evening. Nestled amidst towering mountains, the lake is a sight to behold. Its serene ambiance and pristine beauty make it a perfect spot to unwind after a long day of trekking.
As night falls, we’ll retreat to our tents at the Vishansar campsite. As you drift off to sleep, under the starlit sky, look forward to another day of adventure and discovery in the enchanting Kashmir valley.
Distance: 14 km
Time: 10 hours
Gadsar Pass Altitude: 4,200 m (13,780 ft)
Gadsar Camp Altitude: 3,350 m (10,990 ft)
Today is a big day! We’re going to conquer the highest pass of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek – the Gadsar Pass. Rise and shine early, as we aim to cross the pass in the early part of the day when the mountain weather is relatively stable.
The trek today begins with crossing the twin lakes – Vishansar Lake and Kishansar Lake. As you ascend toward the Gadsar Pass, the view of these two lakes becomes your constant companion, creating a picturesque backdrop for your journey. The ascent to the Gadsar Pass is steep and challenging, but remember, every step brings you closer to an incredibly rewarding view.
Upon reaching the Gadsar Pass, take a well-deserved break. Hydrate yourself, have some refreshments, and most importantly, take in the breathtaking views on both sides of the pass. After spending some time at the top, it’s time to descend. Be cautious during this part, especially if there’s soft and melting snow, as the descent can be a bit tricky.
Once you reach the base of the pass, the trail becomes more gradual, leading you toward the stunning Gadsar Lake. The emerald-blue waters of the lake are a sight to behold. We’ll stop here for lunch, giving you ample time to admire the beauty of the lake.
Today’s trek is indeed long, making it the longest day of the entire trek. But as you finally reach the Gadsar campsite, a warm cup of tea, some tasty snacks, and a chance to rest your tired muscles await you. Stretch, relax, share your experiences of the day with your fellow trekkers, and retire to your tents for the night, ready to take on the next day’s journey.
Distance: 10 km
Time: 6 hours
Satsar Altitude: 3,660 m (12,008 ft)
Today is going to be the shortest day of our trek, but it’s packed with stunning visuals and memorable experiences. After a filling breakfast at the Gadsar campsite, we’ll lace up our boots and hit the trail.
The day starts with a short, steep trek uphill. As you ascend, you’ll feel the trail becoming more gradual, making for a comfortable walk as it traverses the mountains. Stay consistent with your pace during the steep sections, keeping in mind that slow and steady wins the race.
One of the highlights of today’s trail is the opportunity to spot Mt. Nanga Parbat in the distance. This majestic peak serves as a beautiful backdrop to your journey. As you get closer to the ridge, the trail once again becomes gradual, offering an easy walk amidst the stunning mountain landscape.
Soon, you’ll find yourself entering another valley on your left. Cross the stream here and continue walking towards one of the Satsar Lakes. The name ‘Satsar’ translates to ‘seven lakes’, referring to the seven lakes that are closely spread around the Satsar campsite. We’ll have the chance to explore three of these seven lakes today. The other lakes are a bit harder to reach and are often less accessible.
Each of these lakes has its unique charm, their serene waters reflecting the beauty of the surrounding mountains and sky. Spend some time here, soaking in the tranquil ambiance and capturing these beautiful moments in your heart.
As the day comes to an end, we’ll set up camp at the Satsar campsite. Enjoy the evening, share stories of the day with your fellow trekkers, and look forward to another day of exploring the enchanting landscapes of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
Distance: 8 km
Time: 6 hours
Jaj Pass Altitude: 3,820 m (12,532 ft)
Nundkol Camp Altitude: 3,510 m (11,516 ft)
Brace yourself for an adventurous day as we’ll be crossing the third and final pass of this trek, the Jaj Pass.
The trek begins with a steep ascent towards the trail from the Satsar campsite. As you continue, you’ll encounter the infamous boulder area. This section requires careful navigation as the boulders are large and can be challenging to cross. Be prepared to use all four limbs in some parts to cross this area safely.
Post the boulders, you’ll reach a ridge where the climb to the Jaj Pass becomes more gradual. The journey to the pass involves crossing water streams and snow bridges, adding an element of adventure to the day.
Upon reaching the Jaj Pass, pause for a while and soak in the stunning views of the valleys on both sides. You’ll be greeted by the sight of the Gangabal and Nundkol lakes on the other side. Often shrouded in clouds, these lakes offer a mystic beauty that is absolutely mesmerizing. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to spot our next campsite from the pass.
After spending some time at the pass, it’s time to start the descent. The path down is steep and can be particularly slippery if it rains, so proceed with caution. Once you reach the base, a 20-minute gradual climb awaits you, followed by another descent to our campsite next to the beautiful Nundkol Lake.
We’ll be setting up camp here for the night, with plans to explore both Gangabal and Nundkol Lakes the following day. So, rest well, recharge your batteries, and look forward to another exciting day in the mountains.
Altitude: 3,570 m (11,713 ft)
Today, we’ll be immersing ourselves in the serene beauty of Gangabal and Nundkol lakes. These two stunning bodies of water provide a tranquil setting for relaxation and reflection, away from the challenges of trekking.
Gangabal is the largest lake on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Its vast expanse, set against the backdrop of towering mountains, creates an awe-inspiring sight. Take your time to explore this magnificent lake. Walk along its shores, sit by its edge, or simply gaze at its shimmering waters reflecting the clear blue sky.
This lake is a popular spot among locals from Kashmir and Naranag who often come here to fish and camp over the weekends. Despite being a crowd favorite, the lake is large enough to offer everyone their own quiet corner. Find your spot, meditate, read a book, or just admire the view – the choice is yours.
Nundkol Lake, with its calm waters and peaceful ambiance, is another gem to explore. Its proximity to Gangabal Lake makes it easy for you to visit both lakes in a single day.
This extra day in our itinerary is designed to give you a break from the rigors of trekking. It’s a day to connect with nature, feel at peace, and live in the moment. So, take this opportunity to unwind, rejuvenate, and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Remember, sometimes the journey is about standing still and taking in the view.
Distance: 13,5 km
Time: 6 hours
Naranag Altitude: 2,270 m (7,450 ft)
Today, we’ll be trekking from Nundkol to Naranag, marking the end of our incredible journey through the enchanting landscapes of Kashmir.
After a hearty breakfast at the Nundkol campsite, we’ll start our descent toward Naranag. The trail from Nundkol to Naranag is a downhill trek, making it less strenuous than the previous days. However, the path can be slippery at times, especially if it has rained, so caution is advised.
As we descend, we’ll pass through beautiful meadows and cross several streams, soaking in the beauty of the valley one last time. The panoramic views of the mountains, the lush greenery, and the clear blue skies will serve as a constant reminder of the wonderful experiences we’ve had during the trek.
Upon reaching Naranag, you might feel a mix of emotions. There’s a sense of accomplishment for having completed a challenging trek, coupled with a touch of sadness as the journey comes to an end. But remember, each ending is just the beginning of a new adventure.
We’ll spend some time in Naranag, exploring the local culture and interacting with the locals. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the region and its people.
Finally, we’ll say our goodbyes, not just to each other, but to the mountains that have been our home for the past week. As we part ways, we carry with us memories of a lifetime, stories to tell, and a piece of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek in our hearts.
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is considered a moderately difficult trek with an average altitude of 4,000 meters. The trek covers a distance of approximately 72 kilometers in eight days and involves steep ascents and descents on rocky terrain, making it a challenging trek for beginners.
However, the stunning panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and colorful wildflowers make the climb worthwhile. Experienced trekkers may find it relatively easy. For beginner trekkers, it’s essential to prepare properly for this trek.
Read about the difficulty level of the Kashmir Great Lakes in detail here: Understanding the Kashmir Great Lakes Difficulty Level: A Comprehensive Guide
To participate in the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, trekkers should meet the following requirements:
On the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, you can expect to enjoy delicious and healthy meals prepared by experienced cooks. Breakfast typically includes items such as bread toast, poha, upma, besan chilla, aloo paratha, pancakes, etc. Lunch usually consists of pulao, fried rice, rajma (kidney beans), kofta (vegetable balls), kadhi (yogurt-based dish), salad, and pickles. Snacks like pakora (fritters), pasta, and popcorn are also served in the evening along with tea or coffee.
In addition to these meals, it’s also a good idea to carry plenty of chocolates, dry fruits, biscuits, and other snacks for energy while trekking. Dried fruits, seeds, and nuts are great for instant energy boosts while dates and sesame seed-based food are ideal for colder temperatures.
If you have any specific dietary requirements, you can get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to accommodate them.
During the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, participants will stay in tents that are provided by Advenchar.0 These tents are spacious and designed to accommodate two-three trekkers. We also provide sleeping bags and mats.
The campsites are picturesque and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. As the trek takes place in a remote area, there are no permanent structures or hotels. All meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will be provided at the campsites.
As the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek takes place in a remote area, there are no medical facilities available on the trekking route. It is essential to bring appropriate medicines for personal use, such as medicines for altitude sickness, cold, cough, or stomach upset.
Advenchar’s trek leaders are wildness first-aid course certified. They are equipped with a first-aid kit along with an oxygen cylinder at campsites. You can be sure that you’re in safe hands on the trek.
However, if you have any ongoing medications or pre-existing conditions, it’s important to carry the medications and to communicate the same with the trek leader before starting the trek.
In case of a severe medical emergency, we will arrange for evacuation and hospitalization, and the participant will be taken to the nearest medical center.
Appropriate clothing is essential for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. As the trek takes place at high altitudes, it is necessary to protect against the cold weather. The following clothing is recommended for the trek:
It is recommended to dress in layers, as the temperature can fluctuate during the day and night. Additionally, it is advisable to bring a small backpack to carry essential items such as water, snacks, and hats.
Preparing for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek requires physical fitness, mental preparedness, and proper gear. Here are some tips to help prepare for this trek:
By following these tips, participants can prepare for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
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