Kashmir with its unparalleled beauty, postcard-perfect scenes, and almost European vistas frankly needs no introduction. The Kashmir Great Lakes trek traverses some of the hidden jewels in the Kashmiri mountainscape – the pristine alpine high altitude lakes of Vishansar, Krishansar, Gadsar, Satsar. Nundkol and Gangbal. If you are looking for green meadows filled with colourful wildflowers, pristine colour changing water lakes, meandering streams and amazing Himalayan views from high passes, then the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is the most highly recommended trek.
Starting from the popular hill station Sonamarg, the trail follows ancient routes taken by the Gujjars, the nomadic shepherds of Kashmir. Every day on the trail, trekkers are treated to breathtaking views of rugged snow-capped mountains, colourful grasslands, and trout filled crystal clear lakes. There are also high passes to be crossed, the highest being at 4191m and rocky terrains to be navigated frequently. It goes without saying that it is a physically and mentally challenging trek and would require the trekkers to be physically fit and to have a penchant for the Himalayan remoteness to enjoy this trek.
Altitude: Max. altitude at Gadsar pass at 4191m
Temperature: One can expect the temperature to range from 25 degree Celsius during the day and drop down to as low as 5 degree Celsius during the night. Do note that due to wind chills, it can feel a lot colder especially during evenings and nights.
Trek Duration: 8 days.
How to reach Basecamp:
Sitkari is situated at a distance of 87kms from Srinagar and can be reached in approximately 4 hours.
To reach Srinagar, you can take a train to Jammu and take a taxi/bus ride for the rest of the journey. You can also take the flight to Srinagar from Delhi or Mumbai with or without a stopover at Jammu. By bus, Srinagar is linked by the National Highway 1A to the rest of the country.
Nearest Airport / Rail line/road connectivity: The nearest airport is the Sheikh ul Alam airport, also known as the Srinagar airport. Jammu is the nearest rail connectivity point and is well connected to all major cities by train.
Accommodation in dome tents (2/3 per tent).
Meals mentioned in the itinerary on a fixed menu/ buffet basis.
Internal transportation cost as per itinerary.
Camping Equipment: Tents, Sleeping bags, mats, gaiters.
All charges for guides and permits.
Transportation cost from Srinagar to Sitkari and Naranag to Srinagar.
Backpack offloading: Trekkers are expected to carry their own backpacks. If the trekker cannot carry his/her backpack due to physical inability and chooses to offload on mules, this will be on additional cost.
Airfares, airport taxes and anything not mentioned in the inclusions and itinerary.
Meals, tea, coffee, mineral water, tips, transfers not mentioned in the itinerary.
Doctor, telephone, laundry and other personal expenses.
Cost of personal emergency exit or expenses due to external factors such as climatic conditions.
Health & Fitness Requirements:
This trek does not require you to have any previous trekking or mountaineering experience. We do however highly recommend having an adventurous spirit and willingness to undergo the joys & hardships of outdoor camping, in addition to good physical and mental fitness, to completely enjoy the trek. If you suffer from severe muscular, chest, heart or bronchial ailments, we advise you against participating since most treks happen in remote areas with limited access to medical services & hospital facilities.
Our Trek Leaders are experienced mountaineers and we trust their judgments. If during the trek, the Trek Leader advises you against continuing on the trek, we request you to respect his judgment and follow his instructions.
Day 1 – Drive from Srinagar to Sitkari/Sonmarg (2800m, 87kms).
You are expected to assemble at the Sitkari village(3km from Sonmarg) by 6 pm. To reach Sitkari, take a shared taxi from the Srinagar Tourist Reception Center at the latest by 2 pm. A taxi from Srinagar to Sitkari should cost approx. INR 2300-2800. Western Mountains can also arrange for taxis on request and trekker expense to pick you from the Srinagar TRC and drop you at Sitkari.Please let us know during registration if you would like to opt for the pick-up service. It is a scenic drive from Srinagar to Sitkari and has a wonderful mix of grasslands, scattered forests and snow covered mountains. Overnight stay in tents. Meals: (Tea& Snacks, Dinner)
Day 2 – Trek from Sitkari village to Nichnai (3505m, 13kms)
Begin early morning and start ascending towards the Shokdhari campsite on a Maple and Pine tree-lined route. Enjoy beautiful views of Sonmarg and the glaciers en route and from the campsite. Descend into the Nichnai grazing ground (Shepherd’s valley) through a Silver Birch forest. Overnight stay in tents. Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Tea& Snacks, Dinner.
Day 3 – Trek from Nichnai to the Vishansar lake(3657m,15kms)
Today’s trek will comprise of a steep and gruelling ascent to cross the Nichnai pass standing tall at 4080m and a descent towards the Vishansar & Kishansar lakes and into the Vishansar campsite. Visit the Vishansar Lake situated 1km from the campsite. Nothing that we say or write can prepare you for the beauty of the alpine high altitude lake. Surrounded by mountains and being hard to access, the waters of the lake are crystal clear and change colour as the day proceeds. You are guaranteed to start feeling rejuvenated just sitting by the lake and listening to the lapping sounds of the water and soaking in the scenic beauty. Overnight stay in tents. Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Tea& Snacks, Dinner
Day 4– Trek from Vishansar lake to Gadsar lake (4191m,13kms)
Trek up 250m to the Krishansar Lake which is about 1/2km from the Vishansar Lake. Despite being close in distance, the twin lakes can be seen together only from the top at Gadsar pass. Getting to the Gadsar pass at 4191m is no easy task and is going to take a toll on your legs and back. However, the scintillating views at the top of the pass more than compensate for it. From the pass, descent into flat meadows covered with brightly coloured wildflowers to reach the Gadsar Lake. Overnight stay in tents. Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Tea&Snacks, Dinner.
Day 5 – Trek from Gadsar lake to Mengandob/Satsar lake(3600m, 12km)
Today, you begin with a two-hour steep climb up the mountains to enter into flatlands known as Mengandob. Trek ahead, crossing an army camp, to the Satsar lakes. The Satsar lakes are a collection of 7 lakes in a cascade formation. Fed by melting snow, a couple of these lakes dry up in summer and autumn. Overnight stay in tents. Meals -Breakfast, Lunch, Tea& Snacks, Dinner
Day 6 – Trek from Satsar lakes to Gangbal twin lakes(3505m, 10kms)
You will be physically and mentally challenged today as you cross rocky and boulder ridden terrain, cross few ridges and Climb Mountains to arrive for a break on a ridge at 3570m. After a quick break, keep going up to reach the final ridge at 3000m. From here, you can view the twin lakes of Gangbal and Nundkol. What follows is a steep rocky descent, few ups and downs, and entry into green meadows which lead to the Nundkol Lake and Gangbal Lake. Overnight stay in tents. Meals -Breakfast, Lunch, Tea& Snacks, Dinner
Day 7 – Rest day
Today you get to relax by the lakes, explore surrounding meadows, soak in the magnificent mountainscape, uncover a few local legends about the lakes, share travel stories, meditate, exercise your photography skills and do anything that soothes your soul (without disturbing others trekkers/nature) Overnight stay in tents. Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Tea & Snacks, Dinner
Day 8 – Trek from Gangbal twin lakes to Naranag (11kms)
On the final day, we trek past a tree line, some grassy lands and towards the pine forest cover. Follow the forest line for about 6-7kms and descend into the Naranag village. Cabs can be arranged on request and trekker expense to take you to Srinagar from the village. Please let us know during registration if you would like to opt for the dropped service to Srinagar. Meals: (Breakfast)