Because of its unsurpassed beauty, Kashmir is often called paradise and here the great lakes trek are unique. This trek allows you to see the beauty of the Himalayas from the top. Every waking moment is filled with breathtaking views that leave you feeling grateful to be alive to see them.With green meadows bursting with spring colors and high mountains, the beauty of this trek towards Kashmir's lakes is hard to describe.
The landscapes of Kashmir offers hidden treasures for those who are patient, determined, and willing to show dedication towards the climb. Trekkers who are not experienced can consider a trek towards the Kashmir great lakes as the moderate-to-difficult but it's relatively easy for experienced trekkers. During the trek, you will find meadows filled with maple and pine trees, tranquil alpine lakes, and valleys where sheep can be seen grazing or wind blowing.
Each step will take you deeper into the magical land of Kashmir. You will be walking into a different valley each day during these 8 days of Kashmir great lake trek. The trail offers an escape to every valley and each one more beautiful than the last. Many passes are used to bridge the gap between the valleys and meadows, and connect them through a core link.
Our itinerary covers the Kashmir Great Lakes. We start from Srinagar, and then drive to Sonamarg at 7,800ft, to reach Shitkadi Village, which is the base camp for our trek to the Kashmir great lakes. Although the drive can take up to three hours, the stunning scenery makes it seem very short. You will be able to see the beauty of Kashmir all the way.
We head off to Nichnai the next day. It takes 3 hours to ascend, then descend for 1 hour and finally a climb to Nichnai. The trek begins 3 km from Sonamarg along the Srinagar Road and lasts for five hours. The steepest part of the trail is the first three hours. The rest of the hour is spent climbing before we finally reach Nichnai at 11,811 feet.
The trail begins on the road with the Sindh River flowing by it. The trek follows the flat route followed by quick climbs. After few minutes, you will reach a lush green meadow. From there, it is impossible to look back as the Sonamarg town remains below the meadows, with the maple and pine trees above them. After climbing up, the trail descends to the tree line. As you continue to move ahead, you will see a coniferous forest with maple trees.
The trail leads you uphill for the next hour with some breaks in the green canopy. As you stand on a high ridge in the meadow, you can see the Sonamarg valley's stunning scenery. As the slope descends, silver birch trees appear. The grassland extends to almost 40 feet in length and seems like the garden with very few water-scarce nooks. You will find Shekdur, a lovely spot with Bhoj trees around it, among the snowy peaks.
The campsite Nichnai, about 2 hours from here, is also visible. A meadow that stretches for approximately half an hour will take you to the end where the silver birch trees can be found. From there, descend gently into valley as the valley marks the beginning of Nichnai, with the river stream running alongside and the mountains to either side. You will later see patches of green grass within an hour. The triangular peaks can be seen as a sign that you have reached your destination. Here on the Nichnai flats, you will camp for the night.
The next day is a short descent and a flat walk in the meadow to reach Vishansar lake located at 12,000ft. It will take at least 6 hours to trek. The first milestone is the Nichnai Pass. After that, it's a gradual climb up until you reach the pass. Here, the small lake at the foot of the mountains, a ridge and an inward twist to the trail will be visible and you'll reach the pass by crossing it. It looks like a long tunnel with vertical rock walls and snow-covered peaks.
The gradual ascent and rapid descent make it easy to navigate the trail at 13,500ft. Soon the trail becomes rocky and is replaced by lush green meadows with mountains above. A river flows from the pass to the meadow in front of you. You'll also see a sparkling waterfall falling from the cliffs and creating a community with the river.
Soon you will be walking on flat meadows with the Himalayan ranges on one side, and the barren mountains on the other. It will be hard not to be struck by the stark contrast between these mountain ranges. Continue walking through the meadow for another half hour to reach the valley's end. You will see the perpendicular stream from Vishansar lake. It is located at an elevation of 100ft above where you plan to set your camp.
The lake is located at the base of four magnificent mountains that reflect the Kishansar peak. It takes only 7-10 minutes to reach it. This lake's most remarkable feature is its ability to change color depending on when you look at it. When the lake is still, its reflections are stunning. When the sun hits the lake, it takes on a magical charm. This is why Kashmir great lakes trekking is so popular. We would return to the campsite the next day for acclimatization.
The trail's next section is approximately 10 km long and falls within the moderate category for the Kashmir great lakes trek. As the trail climbs up and is lined with ridges it is essential to keep your feet on the ground as you move towards Gadsar Pass. Next on the Kashmir great lakes trek would be the Kishansar Lake, which is 500ft higher then Vishansar lake.
From the campsite, it takes approximately 45 minutes to reach Kishansar Lake. You will need to cross the stream and then climb uphill on the Vishansar side. Kishansar Lake is surrounded by a large meadow and you will reach the top of this ridge by following the trail. Here you can see the Gadsar pass from the opposite side and there are 2-3 small lakes and a few peaks in the distance.
The Gadsar pass might be covered in snow, and you'll find snow as you descend. The Yamsar lake is the first small lake to be seen on the left. Another lake is beyond Yamsar. Another hour of descent will take you to lush green meadows with narrow valleys with mountain ranges on each side. The view is even more charming and beautiful from this point, where flowers line the trail.
After all these journey, you are now Gadsar lake. This is one of the most beautiful lakes on this trek. The stream that flows from one lake to another connects the Yamsar, Gadsar and the unnamed lake. Gadsar lake, located at 12,500ft above sea level, is close to army bases camps.
It is important to notify the Gadsar army camp immediately if you find yourself near it. After all information about the trekkers and their staff, including original id cards, has been recorded and collected, it takes between 2 and 3 hours for them give you a green light.
From there, we set out on a 12-km trek. The stream, which runs at an elevation of 10,600ft, will take you up into the mountains. The Satsar campsite is located 10 kilometers away at an altitude of 12,000ft. Soon you will be able to see the river valley below and the treeline. The trail flattens out at 11,500 feet, with lush green meadows and mountains around it.
The Maengandob region is known for its stunning scenery of streams that run across the green bed. This is where we would set up camp, close to the Satsar lake which is a collection of 7 lakes. The Satsar army check point is located beyond the ridge. It is the third line defense from the LOC. You will need to complete the process of ID proof verification, collection, and questioning.
To reach the largest Gangabal Lake, we will leave the camp. The trek is moderate in difficulty, but the reward is great as you reach the largest Satsar lake at the end. After about half an hour of walking, a forest line will appear. From here, a series of ridges rise to 1000ft. We then follow the zig-zag paths to our next campsite at 111,800ft. After crossing the ridges, the trail is bare except for the pine trees that line these huts. From the ridgetop, you can enjoy stunning views and see two lakes next to each other.
There the stream runs from the highest lake to the lowest one. Another two blue lakes can be seen from a distance. These smaller lakes are not named, but Gangabal Lake is the largest in the region. There, Nundkol will be our campsite. You will climb back up to the lake, then descend a little more. Although the ascent is dry and rocky, you will cross a stream halfway down where you can refill your water bottles. After a steep descent for about an hour, you reach lush meadows again. As you continue walking for another kilometer, the tree line is visible again.
You will reach the shores Nundkol Lake at the base of the Harmukh peak by a swift climb that includes descending and crossing streams. The Harmukh glacier is visible from the cliffs of the mountains and here we will set up our camp. The trek to the Kashmir great lakes takes you 12 km and can strain your lower limb muscles. We descend towards the tree line from the Gangabal campsite. After about an hour of walking, the ridges you had been walking on disappear and there are traces that civilization has begun to emerge. The Harmukh peak towers majestically over you, and the meadow of yellow flowers.
You descend to the tree line at 10,800 feet, then climb to 11,000ft. You will be at 10,800ft for 6km, and then you will cross through the pine forests. The actual descent begins after you have completed the trail for two-thirds. It is very steep so it is important to keep proper footing on the trail. You will reach 3000ft in a distance of 4kms. At 8500 feet, Naranag begins to appear. This last stretch is a endurance test, but soon you will see the stone-paved track. Soon you will be on the main road to Naranag. From here you can drive to Srinagar.
INR 14850Per Adult