Why Kashmir Great Lakes is my all-time-favorite trek
When Sandhya, a partner at Indiahikes, went on a trek to explore Kashmir, little did she know that her Kashmir Great Lakes trek was going to change the entire trekking scenario in India. She went with eight others trekkers to explore glacial lakes, and was astounded by the beauty…
“When we announced the Kashmir exploratory trek people got excited. We got some fresh job applicants too! They said, “If this is your kind of work, we want to be a part of it!”.
Our tryst with the Kashmir great lakes trek began in 2011. Back then, we did not know much about this trek, leave alone Kashmir. We just knew that Kashmir was supremely beautiful. So, the trek had to be beautiful too. Our idea was to simply go to high altitude lakes. We thought that was enough to make the trek superb. We did not know what else to expect. I did manage to see one or two pictures from some foreign trekkers. The pictures were out of the world. Frankly, I did not quite believe that the pictures were real.
The final exploration team consisted of only nine trekkers, though we had made arrangements for 10. Somehow, people were very hesitant to step into the unknown. Nevertheless, we set out. Little did we know that our exploration was going to change the trekking scene in Kashmir forever.
Kashmir Great Lakes trek
So the exploration began. We drove to Sutkari, our base camp near Sonamarg. My only instruction to our team was: We are doing an absolutely new trek. What we take back and show is going to be the way the world sees this trek.
Within an hour, I knew that this was by far the most beautiful first day of any Himalayan trek that I had done. By the second day, we were in the greenest and widest valleys I had ever walked on. Rivers and streams followed me everywhere. On the third day, Vishnusar lake was bluer, clearer and prettier than any other lake I had ever seen. Every day we would camp by a lake. I would think, okay, this must be the best day of the trek. When the trek ended at Naranag, I could not decide which was the best day! Even Naranag was picture postcard perfect!
When we came back and wrote about our experience, I was not surprised at the explosion of interest in the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Everyone wanted to see this magical Kashmir. True to our words, Kashmir opened up to trekkers. A whole new world of trekking in Kashmir started. To put things in perspective, last year, there were more than 600 Indiahikers trekking in Kashmir.
When I look back at the Great Lakes trek, I always feel it is created on a larger than life canvas. All our other treks are like watching a movie on a small screen. The Kashmir great lakes is like watching a movie in IMAX 3D. It is in a different scale of grandeur.
The Kashmir great lakes trek is like a pilgrimage. I can never tire of being there…
Detailed trek Itinerary
Day 1: Getting to the base camp – Sonamarg
- Time taken: 4 hours
- Distance: 80 km
Arrive at Srinagar and drive to Sonamarg, about 4 hours away. The trek begins at Sonamarg. The trek can be paced out more evenly if you make Sonamarg as your base. This gives you more trekking time on Day 2. You camp at Sonamarg for the night.
Day 2: Sonamarg to Nichnai via Shekdur
- Altitude: 7,800 feet to 11,500 feet
- Distance: 9 km
- Time taken: 6 hours
The trek starts 3 km out of Sonamarg, on the Srinagar road. Exactly at the 3 km mark, you will spot a lone Dhaba on the right. The place sells packaged water, biscuits and other edibles which 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. It is a total 3 hour ascent followed by 1 hour descent and finally a gentle 2 hour ascent to Nichnai.
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 which 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 one going down heads 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 on the other side a meadow gently slopes down. Spend a few moments at the ridge grasping the Sonamarg view and its neighbouring 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 40 feet wide meadow. Small brooks which cross the meadow serve as water sources. On the right are small peaks with snow powdered tops. This is Shekdur. If you plan to have a short day’s trek on day one, this is where you pitch your tents for the day. It takes an average trekker about two and a half hours to reach the meadow from the road head and add another half an hour if you decide to break the day’s trek at the end of the meadow.
Shekdur is a beautiful camp site surrounded by Bhoj trees. This is the only camp site 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 camp site, 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 giving out beautiful light and dark rays.
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 Nichnai. 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 a wide valley but enclosed by mountains on either sides. The river, which joins the Sindh eventually flows in speed through the valley. The first 30 minutes is over the 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 day’s trek.
Day 3: Nichnai to Vishnusar lake
- Altitude: 11,500 feet to 13,500 feet
- Distance: 12 km
- Time: 6 hours
The day’s trek is a long walk on meadows with the scenery changing for the better all along. Start by 8:00 am to give yourself enough time en route to enjoy the meadows. Your first destination for the day is to cross the Nichnai pass or Vishnusar Berry. The pass is visible at a distance from the camp site. 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. It is a medium climb to Nichnai pass 13,500 feet, followed by a small descent followed by a long flat meadow walk ending near Vishnusar Lake.
- As you climb, notice a small lake at the foot of the mountains. It is a deep blue lake and you can sense your expectations rising with regards to the lake. The pass is deceptive such that 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 Nichnai pass, watch the Sonamarg valley and the trail you came from. BSNL phone networks tend to work here most of the time. This is the last point on the trek where you get a 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.
Vishnusar lake -Photo credit: Anil Reddy
- Stop here and take a 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 Vishnusar lake which is a bit higher on your left. The lake is not seen yet and cannot be seen from the camp site. Pitch your tents anywhere beside the stream coming from the lake. There is ample camping space.
Kishansar lake -Photo credit : Manjunath Bhat
Day 4: Explore Vishnusar and Kishansar twin lakes
The Vishnusar lake lies 0.5 km to the left and 100 feet high from the camp site. 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 Vishnusar 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 colourless water. The lake starts getting its colours 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 colour the lake looks wonderful and it is worth catching a glimpse of the lake in all its hues.
- These lakes are full of trout and trout fishing is popular. Obtain a permit from Srinagar for fishing. The next lake in series is the Kishansar lake. The Kishansar lake lies just about 0.5 km away and 500 feet higher than Vishnusar. The Kishansar lake lies at the base of the Kishansar peak. It takes about 45 minutes to reach Kishansar lake from the camp site. Move right towards the stream and cross it where it is easy. The trail climbs up on the right side of the Vishnusar 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.
Day 5: Vishnusar to Gadsar via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass
- Altitude: 12,000 feet to 13,750 feet
- Distance: 10 km
- Time taken: 5 hours
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 of them will take you to the top. It is an hour and a half climb to the top of the ridge at a moderate pace. 45 minutes into the climb, you will be treated by one of the loveliest views you can ever imagine. Both the Kishansar and Vishnusar lakes, in full view, together. The view of the twin lakes lasts till you reach the ridge top or the Pass. This is called the Gadsar pass – altitude 13,800 feet – the highest point on this trek. The trek is a steep 2 hour ascent followed by a steep descent followed by a gentle walk in the meadows.
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 multi-coloured 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 on 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 Yamsar, the nameless lake and Gadsar are all connected by a stream of water that flows from the higher lake to the lower. Gadsar is again at 12,500 feet.
Choose to make Gadsar your camp site for its sheer beauty but only if you can vow to leave the ground as neat as you found it to be. Usually 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 Headquarters. The Headquarters is 4.8 kms 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 for 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 identity cards are recorded, collected and checked.
Day 6: Gadsar to Satsar
- Altitude: 13,750 to 12,000 feet
- Distance: 12 km
- Time taken: 6 hours
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 1100 feet. Once beyond the 11,500 feet 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 your 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 identity 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 to Gangabal twin lakes
- Altitude: 12,000 feet to 11, 500 feet
- Distance: 9 km
- Time taken: 6 hours
Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by long steep ascent and long steep descent followed by gradual up and down walk.
The day’s 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 ridge line about 1000 feet higher. It is time to gain height again. The altitude at the base of the climb is 11,800 feet. 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.
Gangabal and Nandkol twin lakes – Photo credit: Manjunath-Bhat
A total two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. The altimeter reads about 13,400 feet. The best part however is the surprise view you get from the ridge top. the 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 Nandkol. You now know your destination. It is 1400 feet 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 Nandkol. The ascent is dry but on the descent you cross a stream mid way. Fill your empty bottles with 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 kilometre 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 Nandkol 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 Nandkol 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 Nandkol are famous for trout fishing.
The Gangabal lake is about 20 minutes away from Nandkol. 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 to Naranag
- Altitude: 11,500 feet to 7,450 feet
- Distance: 11 km
- Time taken: 6 hours
The day’s trek is a killer on your toes and knees, it is a gradual descent followed by steep descent. From the Gangabal camp site 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 camp site, 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 10,800 feet at the tree line but climb again to 11,000 feet. For about 6 km you never really lose altitude and you are forever around the 10,800 feet 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 km sees you dropping more than 3000 feet. 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 8500 feet 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 Naranag.
Drive to Srinagar and reach by 6.30 pm. Stay overnight at Srinagar.
How to prepare for the Kashmir Great Lakes trek
Kashmir Great Lakes is a moderate to difficult trek. You cover an average of 10 km each day. In 4 days you gain an altitude of 8,550 feet. If you want to do this trek comfortably and enjoy all it’s glorious views, you will need to prepare well.
Start by jogging every day. Jogging increases your stamina and cardiovascular endurance. Start slow and increase your pace. Your aim should be to cover around 4 km in 20 minutes.
The descent from Gangabal to Narnag can be extremely taxing on your knees. So work on your core body strength and also your thighs, to take pressure off your knees. You can do some squats. Do three sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can include planks and crunches in your routine. This will help increase your core body strength.
When you’re working your muscles a lot, you need to keep them loose and flexible. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. 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.
What you need to carry on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek
Once you’ve decided to go on any trek, the first two things you need to purchase are trekking shoes and a backpack.
- Trekking shoes: Not sports shoes. The shoes need to have soles with good grip and ankle support. We recommend FORCLAZ 100 and 600 from Decathlon. .Wear the shoes for a week prior to the trek to avoid shoe bites/blisters on slope.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): Backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is organized in the months of July, August and September. Expect light showers during these months. So carrying a poncho is absolutely essential.
- Full sleeve woolens (2 pairs including the one you are wearing):We endorse fleece over wool as it is light weight, compact and warm. It is better to layer your clothing with multiple light sweaters than to carry one thick heavy jacket.
- Thick jacket: Carry 1 full sleeve windproof jacket/down jacket.
- Trek pants (3 pairs including the one you are wearing): We highly endorse synthetic quick-dry pants as they are light. Plus, when it’s cold you can wear one over the other. While trekking, a pair is what you would carry apart from the worn. You could keep the third pair for your return journey. Alternative would be cotton pants with many pockets or track pants. Jeans, shorts and 3/4 pants are not suitable for trekking.
- Collared t-shirts (3 pairs including the one you are wearing):Preferably light, full sleeve t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Avoid loud colors that would distract birds and animals.
- Thermal inners: 1 pair of lightweight, upper and lower. Thermal inners are optional for those who are more sensitive to the cold.
- Sunglasses: Curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. People who wear spectacles, choose either contact lenses or photo chromatic glasses. If both are not possible, wear your spectacles and carry big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.
- Suncap: To protect your head from the direct heat of the sun, protect your face and neck from sunburns. The cap must cover your ears and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: . You may use scarves as an alternative to balaclavas.
- Poncho: A lightweight poncho is preferred because unlike raincoats, it covers your rucksack as well. A poncho is indispensable for the Tarsar Marsar trek as light showers are expected
- Socks (3 pairs): 2 cotton pairs, 2 woolen pairs (mostly to be used on campsites and while sleeping. Keep them dry.)
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Trekking pole is mandatory.
- Daypack (20 litres): It is mandatory to carry a daypack if you choose to offload your backpack. If you decide to carry your backpack, day pack is not required.
- Toiletries (Sunscreen – SPF 40+, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm/chap stick, small soap, toilet paper)
- Repair kit (needle & thread)
- Camera: Carry all accessories – spare batteries, charger, etc.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. To save weight, you may use your lunch box instead of carrying a plate separately.
- Water bottles: 2 bottles, 1 Litre each. Packaged drinking water bottles like Aquafina, Bisleri and others are not allowed.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes. While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
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Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
Here’s a short itinerary of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek
|Day 1||Getting to base camp – Sonamarg. The transport will be arranged at 2.30 PM from Sheikh Tours, Sathu Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill in Srinagar|
|Day 2||Sonamarg to Nichnai; 9 km, 6 hours|
|Day 3||Nichnai to Vishnusar; 12 km, 6 hours|
|Day 4||Explore Vishnusar and Kishansar Lakes|
|Day 5||Vishnusar to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass; 10 km, 5 hours|
|Day 6||Gadsar to Satsar; 12 km, 6 hours|
|Day 7||Satsar to Gangabal twin lakes; 9 km, 6 hours|
|Day 8||Gangabal to Naranag and drive to Srinagar; 11 km, 6 hours. You will reach Srinagar by 8 PM|
Video by Indiahikes trekker Adam
Here are the pictures taken from the Kashmir Great Lakes trek in August. Click on images below to see them full screen.
Trek fee: Rs. 12,750/-*
*Service tax at 3.75% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping)
- All meals – vegetarian (starting from dinner at Sonamarg-day 1 and ending with lunch at Narang -day 8)
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp. Transport cost from Srinagar to Sonarmarg and from Narang to Sonamarg is additional, and is to be paid directly to the driver.
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1750. Charges are additional for offloading last minute, on slope. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Srinagar on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. The trek fee includes all cost from the start of the trek at Sonamarg to the end of the trek at Narang.
2. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from the TRC (Tourist Reception Centre, Dal Lake) by 2:00 pm. Pick up options are available from the airport as well. Pick up requests later than 2.00 pm is not accepted. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels to the base camp together in shared cabs.
3. Transport: The cost of transport from Srinagar to Sonamarg and return from Narnag to Srinagar has to be borne by the trekker and paid directly to the driver. The transport is arranged through local operators in shared cabs. Each shared cab costs approximately Rs. 2300/- one way. Trekkers are expected to share the cost likewise.
Note: In case you do not want the Indiahikes pick up, please let us know at least 20 days in advance.
4. Backpack carrying: Indiahikes 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 charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1750/-. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
5. Drop out during trek: If for any reason a participant has to drop out from the trek on any day then Indiahikes will make arrangements for his/her return to the nearest road head. A staff will accompany the participant to the nearest road head.
6. Fitness: An high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 4.5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult. In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
7. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
8. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
9. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes 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 e-mail us at email@example.com. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
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.
10. 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.
How safe is the Kashmir Great Lakes trek?
Kashmir Great Lakes is a high altitude trek. Naturally, the risks associated with a high altitude trek are different from other treks.
Risk 1: Altitude and terrain
Our base camp Sonamarg is at 8,850 feet. This is already high altitude. You get there very quickly too. Most trekkers leave home in the morning and by evening they are at Sonamarg. The next camp Nichnai is at 11,500ft. It means by the time trekkers reach Nichnai, they very often start to display the symptoms of high altitude – mild headache, nausea, general uneasiness. These are signs of AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness. From here you have to cross the Nichnai pass at 13,500ft and camp at Vishnusar – 12,000ft.
The good part of this trek is that, if you are well acclimatised by the first 2 days, its highly unlikely that AMS will trouble you the later days. All the later camps are at the same altitude. During the day you always go to a high pass and get down to a lower camp.
At Indiahikes we believe a preventive step taken before you start the trek is better than risking a chance of dropping out of a trek because of altitude sickness.We recommend trekkers to start on a course of Acetazolamide (Diamox®) when they arrive at Delhi. We strongly recommend trekkers reading this article on Benefits of Diamox
We recommend that you go on a course of Diamox for the first 3 days. Check if you are allergic to sulpha drugs first. You can check with your doctor or do a simple test yourself. When at home, try taking half a tablet of diamox. If you don’t see any adverse affects or allergies, you are mostly fine. If you have any medical pre condition like diabetes or hypertension or anything else, check with your doctor about taking diamox. Start your course at Srinagar the day your trek batch starts. One 250 mg tablet in the morning and one in the night. Continue
this until you leave Vishnusar camp. If you are fine in Vishnusar, you can stop the Diamox course and continue the rest of the trek.
On a Himalayan trek like the Great lakes there is no alternative but to gain altitude rapidly the first two days. Even though we have designed the trek to ascend as slowly as possible there is considerably altitude gain on the first two days of the trek.
Risk 2: Weather
One common question in most people’s minds about the Great lakes trek is rain. The trek is open only in July/August/September – the monsoon months of our country
The good news is that, rain patterns in Kashmir are a little different from the rest of the country. March and April are the traditional rainy months of the valley.
However, on a high altitude trek the weather is not predictable. Even though the months of July to September are the best time to trek, a slight change in atmospheric pressure or a shift in the winds can bring rainfall in the mountains. Always carry a poncho for this trek. Very rarely does it rain so much to affect the trek itself, but if that happens and it looks unsafe to carry on, the trek may have to be aborted. A call on this is taken by our Trek Leaders and Guides leading the team.
The Great lakes trek has been designed to accommodate a rest day. This also serves as a buffer day in case of any weather delays.
Risk 3: Physical injuries
On a trek it is not uncommon to sprain a leg or accidentally meet with a fall — especially on the rocky or slippery snow sections. Sprains, cuts and bruises are less difficult to manage. Fractures and dislocations are rare but more difficult to tackle. The trekker needs to be immobilized and brought down to the base camp as soon as possible. Our trek leaders are trained to handle emergencies like these but they are not doctors.
The nearest medical aid is at Sonamarg but the trek which crosses 3 high passes and valleys has no easy exit options. Retracing the path may take anything from 24-48 hours to get a trekker to a hospital. As a participant on the trek you must be aware of these risks before starting on the trek.
Risk 4: Evacuation, emergency and communication
Evacuation of an affected trekker is not a quick process; it takes time. Sometimes the trekker has to be put on a stretcher. At other times he must be carried down with the help of porters. It requires a team of 4-6 porters to bring down a victim. The trails are narrow and sometimes steep. At times there is not enough room for the porters to stand while bringing down a victim. This makes any evacuation a slow process – slower than the usual trekking time. In an emergency when time is of the essence this can be deeply frustrating to the victim as well as those who are with him.
Emergency evacuation by helicopter is not a practical possibility. Helicopters need to fly from the nearest base at Srinagar or Jammu. This is time consuming. It could take 7-8 hours before a helicopter reaches you. Helicopters also need a flat area of 20X30 meters to land and a clear sky. Usually in the regions we trek, there is a cloud cover by 2-3 pm in the afternoon. Even in a life threatening situation the common rule applied is to move down and not wait for a helicopter to reach the victim. This rule is applied universally across the globe.
Communication on the trek is limited to the use of runners to send information. Use of satellite phones are banned in our country especially in Kashmir. Mobile phones do not work. Once on the trek you are cut off from the rest of the world until you complete the trek. The implication is that even in an emergency communication is difficult. In an emergency it takes time for help to reach you.
Please understand these risks before starting on a high altitude trek in the Himalayas.
How Indiahikes is prepared for an emergency
- Every group is accompanied by a trek leader who is trained to handle emergencies. He knows how to administer first aid, address altitude related problems and issue emergency medications. A high altitude medical kit always accompanies the group on the trek. An evacuation team is ready in case a trekker has to be brought down to a safer camp. A stretcher also accompanies the team when they are on the trek.
- It is mandatory for all trekkers to get their oxygen saturation levels measured at all our trekking camps above 9,000 feet. Our trek leaders carry oxygen saturation meters. Anyone with a reading of 80% and below will be sent down for more oxygenation. A reading of 85% is worrying but not dangerous.
- It is also mandatory for all trekker to undergo blood pressure tests at all camps above 9,000 feet.
- Supplementary oxygen is mandatory at all high altitude camps and on all treks, including exploratory treks. Special oxygen cylinders have been imported from Britain. Oxygen capacity of these cylinders are 8 hours, enough to carry out a rescue. Earlier we would only stock oxygen canisters.
- Our trek leaders are trained to administer special steroids like Dexamethasone and Nifedippine (a drug that lowers hypertension). Our trek leaders have always been hesitant to use these drugs and we will continue this policy.
- We believe prevention is the best policy and we will continue towards that. Education and training of trekkers are as much important as training of our staff. We were already doing this but will be intensified further.
How to get to the basecamp – Sonamarg
Delhi → Srinagar → Sonamarg
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek starts from Sonamarg. Its suggested to arrive at Srinagar a day prior to the trek as it helps in acclimatization.
From Srinagar, Indiahikes organises transport to Sonamarg. We organise the transport at 2:30 pm from Sheikh Tours, Sathu Barbara Shah chowk (near flour mill), Srinagar. The fare of this transport is not included in the fee. Cost from Srinagar to Sonamarg is as follows
Rs 2,300/- (5-6 seater vehicle)
Rs 2,600/- (10 seater)
Rs 3,500/- (12 seater)
The route from Srinagar Airport to “Sheikh Tours” which is your pick up point
Naranag → Srinagar → Delhi
The Kashmir Great trek ends at Naranag. Indiahikes organises this transport. This is to be shared by fellow trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Srinagar by 6:30 pm. Cost of transport from Naranag to Srinagar will be as follows.
Rs 2,300/- (5-6 seater vehicle)
Rs 2,600/- (10 seater)
Rs 3,500/- (12 seater)
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
Ankur Saraf of September 2015 batch : “The trek was through awe-inspiring vistas – multi-coloured meadows, crystal clear waters, lichen rich rock strewn landscapes, mountains – dry, green and snow capped, flowers enough to fill the stretch of your eyes. The staff was pretty helpful. In the relatively tougher stretches, we received sufficient halts. Learnt pitching and taking off tents. The food was surprisingly delicious, even at 13,000 ft+. Having a buffer day was a good idea.”
Divya Gulechha of September 2015 batch : “This was my first trek ever and I can really say that it has been among the best of my travel experiences by far. The trek by itself tests not just your physical strength but your mental and emotional levels of endurance too! There are moments when you start doubting your own capabilities and then the landscape unfolds, with the help of your guides and fellow trekkers, you just know that you are meant to be! The experience of being atop one of the most beautiful mountain ranges, the exhilaration of reaching a particular altitude, the magic of these spellbinding mountain lakes (Vishansar especially!) is something that cannot be explained or comprehended in words! Best of all was to see the Jawans of the Indian Army guarding their posts at that altitude, braving the miles and the chills! kudos to these guys! Hope the magic remains, for Kashmir too beautiful to be torn on political grounds! Godspeed Kashmir!”
Shilpa from September 2015 batch : “Great team spirit while the weather was not really favorable. We faced rain, hailstorm, snow on most of our trekking days, still managed to have good time and enjoyed. Also we completed the trek, of course with all the support from IH trek leads and support staff. One more thing to point out is I was the only girl in a batch of 6 trekkers, and I was never made to feel isolated or uncomfortable by either the trekkers or IH team. I felt safe and had a good time. It is also good to see introduction of oxymeter test of trekkers every day which wasn’t there when I did Rupin Pass trek last year.”
Avipsha Mitra of September 2015 batch : “1. The food was really good and the local trek guides from kashmir were really nice and humble. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with them. They were very helpful and with us through out the trek. 2. I also like the way India hikes helps you prepare for the trek in terms of things to carry, workouts etc. 3. I like the whole idea of green trek and the bags provided in order to leave the trail cleaner than before. Wonderful initiative !”
Vishwas PK of September 2015 batch : “The Snow storm which played spoilt sport turned out to be a wonderful adventure in disguise. Loved the extreme nature of the trek and the bitter cold coupled with winds at 60 kph, was truly spectacular. The bleak and stark landscape gave me a different perspective of Kashmir and the capricious nature of the weather in the mountains helped me gain more respect for the true power of nature.”
Shubham Agarwal of September 2015 batch : “Views provided by the trek and the care taken by Indiahikes.”
Sushant Sinha of September 2015 batch : “Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is indeed very beautiful. The journey itself is the most fantastic part of it as there is no electricity, No network, no civilisation but only You & Nature. Every day takes you to a very less travelled path and a scenic extravaganza. Difficult terrain gives you the confidence to try, succeed and cherish. Entire trek is a huge learning experience. You meet new people and make friends too. Trust me, Many of us didn’t feel like coming back & found it hard to adjust to city life again, that’s the kind of experience you get in the trek. :-)”
Khushboo Goradia of September 2015 batch : “The efforts put in by each member of Indiahikes and the supporting staff was incomparable. The friendliness and the helpfulness was amazing. Made us feel comfortable and motivated us enough to keep moving.”
Amit Roy of September 2015 batch : “The unadulterated beauty of the trek left us speechless.”
Abhishek Ghosh of August 2015 batch : “in all aspect it was superb experience for me .”
Anand Shetty of August 2015 batch : “The location of our camps, the trail and in general the pleasant weather was fantastic. The ground and support staff did an impressive job. The trek leader, the technical leader and other ground staff and including the ponymen were very nice with us.”
Pushpam of September 2015 batch : “The trail, the people and the way it was organized. Thanks IH. Me on cloud 9 right now.”
Udit Ranjan of August 2015 batch : “The beauty of Kashmir, the journey through changing landscapes, the stay in the wilderness, the food, the Indiahikes team’s constant guidance, motivation and concern. The amalgamation of all the above was fantastic.”
Ganesh Alawani of August 2015 batch : “The Trek Leader & his team ( Guides, Kitchen staff & horsemen) were just outstanding – always ready to help & cheerup. The medical backup ( medicines, blood O2 & pulse rate monitor,oxygen cylinders) & support horse -and the leader with medical knowledge – all this was novelty for me after trekking Himalayas many many times in the past 25 years.”
Vijaykumar Umranikar of August 2015 batch : “Most beautiful.Variety of flowers.Various shades of green medows,numerous bolders and last trail through the Pine and Fern trees.Though the trek was tough,all of us enjoied it.Everything was well organised.Our group leader Mr Gurdit Singh was enthusiastic and very helpful.He left no stone unturned while helping the participants during odd and difficult situations.”
Ravindra Gurjar of August 2015 batch : “IT WAS MOST SCENIC & BEAUTIFUL TREK. THE CAMP SITES WERE ALSO WELL CHOSEN TO FULLY ENJOY THE NATURAL BEAUTY.”
Varun Raja Samineni of August 2015 batch : “Well the view but I can’t hold you responsible for that now can I? The people and the journey itself that I was able to experience, is something I will cherish. Thanks for making it possible and a lot of credit goes for the way it was organised. I also deeply appreciate your Green initiative to clean the mountains. Is there scope for improvement? I guess there always is, only I’m completely blank when it comes to thinking where because eveything went pretty close to perfect.”
Tasneem Lohani of August 2015 batch : “Loved the way the trek leader and the entire team took good care of us . They were really caring , patient and listened and paid heed to our suggestions,complains and tantrums . There were few of us who quizzed them with silly questions (eg. I burped 30 times today is that normal 😉 ) . But they happily replied to all of them . And the food was yummy . Tents and sleeping bag were clean and excellent and kept us warm .”
Prateek Bhagat of August 2015 batch : “Everything about the trek was superb. The trek leaders and the guides helped us a lot. The food was outstanding. Human safety was given prime importance by the team and we were looked after really well. Would love to do another trek with India Hikes. Bir is the best trek leader I have come across.”
Anush of August 2015 batch : “Everything, it was SO SO organized. Special mention about Saranbir, javed, chamman and iqbal who were more than just helpful to all of us.”
Abhishek Kamath of August 2015 batch : “The landscape, the views and the overall path of the trek was fabulous. The trek is really scenic and is one that should not be missed.”
Rebecca Dleema of August 2015 batch : “I loved everything single thing about the trek but definitely something I would love to call our is our trek leader – Dushyant. He was simply stunning and amazing at the way he managed the entire trek. We had quite a big group of 22 and to keep everyone happy is not easy. The level of maturity and patience is simply stunning. I believe that a team can stay intact, motivated, committed only if they have a great leader and I felt out team was all the time motivated simply because of our leader – Dushyant. The next person I would like to call out is Dashod – our Technical guide. As usual he was an amazing person as well who helped us from the start to the end with everything and anything. He was all the time smiling and motivating us to reach our goals. Apart from them without a say the helpers, cooks, horsemen at the backend whom we tend to ignore have been amazing and humble people.”
Shridhar Acharya of August 2015 batch : “The scenaries, trails and lakes were fantastic on this trek. Also we had a fantastic trekking team and that includes the IH team and the cooking staff as well. The food served was of good quality. Special thanks to Dushyant who was an inspiring trek leader. I must say i would love to trek with him again.”
Priti Savla of August 2015 batch : “The trail, tents, sleeping bags, campsites were lovely. Food and Tent loos were awesome. Staff. Overall management of the whole trek and positive cheerful and helpful staff.”
Sriram of August 2015 batch : “The operational efficiency of your crew was mindblowing! It is unbelievable that one could have this experience at Rs 12,500. Excellent job!”
Srikanth Chikkala of August 2015 batch : “Trek was beautiful and all the support staff were helpful and nice. Indiahikes is leading in cleaning the mountains and i feel really good about it. The commitment shown by Aashish and team is outstanding and i think with our batch we helped collect 14 + bags of garbage.I hope the same zeal to clean the environment continues across all India hikes Treks and teams.”
N Pranitha of August 2015 batch : “This was my first long trek and it was totally fantastic . The place in itself was absolutely beautiful with lakes, mountains, glaciers, clouds, waterfalls. The cooks were amazing providing us very tasty food like home food, 4 times a day. The guides especially Shravan and Jawed Sir were very helpful during the trek. The KGL group was too good and we played lots of games everyday. Everything combined made it totally an awesome experience.”
Ankita Omare of August 2015 batch : “Both the breathtaking views and the support staff were awesome.”
Austin d’rozario of August 2015 batch : “as usual great camp sites….great Views……..long quiet stretches…..really GREAT Lakes……….terrific gang……..and a VERY GOOD leader.”
Gaurav Jain of August 2015 batch : “The trek leader was really good, the overall team was excellent. The view on this trek is superb / mind blowing. The trek over all challenges your fitness, and the end result it a beautiful fairytale scenery everyday and along the way. The trek leader was very concerned for each trekker, and always available individually to support medically, mentally and was just the best leader we ever came across.”
R. Arora of August 2015 batch : “The views were breathtaking !.. The trails picked by IH were so varied that each day we got to witness a new shade/side to the mountains (quite literally too :-))”
Sunil B N of August 2015 batch : “First and amazing himalayan trek! Must do trek in India .. Your brain will be spilling over with natural HD wallpapers all the time.. We were able to camp in the real heaven on the earth. It’s life time experience which no trekker should miss!”
Mangal Agarwal of August 2015 batch : “The overall arrangement of the trek was superb. The food, the medical attention, the trek route, the pace of trekking, our group members, the support staff, the trekking gears/equipment everything was perfect.”
Dhruv Maheshwari of August 2015 batch : “The Trek leaders; dushyant, chaman and himanshu were all terrific. The cook Naina made some great food. The views of the lakes is out of the world. I never wanted the trek to end.”
Manjeet of August 2015 batch : “Co operating guides and support staff. Tents and sleeping bags are of very good quality. Timing was perfect. I got Green getter certificate. I really enjoyed picking plastic garbage till returning day from Gangbal till reaching dhaba near Narnaag,”
Bhushan Virkar of August 2015 batch : “All camp sites and food and support staff were fantastic..”
Adith Shenoy of August 2015 batch : “We had new experiences in the trek. We saw lakes everyday and one got more beautiful than the other. We also took a dip at the last lake which was freezing but it was fun. Next we came across army camps and one of the camps was beside the army camp and because of this we got to play cricket with them as well.”
Indraneel Ghose of August 2015 batch : “If there is heaven on earth, I saw it on this trek. The whole Indiahikes team, with their care and attention, made this possible.”
Chintan from August 2015 batch : “The beauty of kashmir was fantastic.”
Sumit kumar singh from August 2015 batch : “Food, support staff, amazing nature, lakes, weather were fantastic,”
Ashutosh Niraj from July 2015 batch : “Everything about the trek was fantastic. Awesome beauty, Great Lakes, Challenging”
Meenu Birla from August 2015 batch : “The cook, the guide and support staff made our trip marvelous. Also weather proved to be awesome.”
Mike Green from July 2015 batch : “The excellent information disseminated by the Trek Leader, the splendid scenery, the wild flowers at this time of the year, the shepherds & their flocks of sheep.”
Abhijit Biyani from August 2015 batch : “Food was unbelievably good — courtesy Mahaveer and team. The range of food along with sweet dishes presented at that high altitude was unexpected and the quality was superb. Beautiful trek overall and nicely organized. Amazing views and campsites. Very good guides and support staff along with capable and passionate trek leader.”
Bijay Krishna Nandi from August 2015 batch : “It was the first time for me to go to Kashmir and I am very much pleased and highly satisfied with the scenic beauty and awesome experience that I gain from the trek. I would consider it to be the way to become a Disciplined person, it was really a very good trek. Though it was a tough trek, but the beauty of mountains, lakes, meadows, plains, snow, forest, valley and many more is highly enthralling. Also the highly unpredictable weather adds a charm to the beauty of the place. Thanks a lot to IH for having such a beautiful trek.”
Amol Pathare from August 2015 batch : “ The trek was Superlative…!!! ” This was my first trek in Himalayan range, I was lil skeptical about my capacity to acclimatize with the oxygen level at that altitude . But I managed it very well, & completed the trek successfully . I just fell in love with breathtaking scenic beauty of Kashmir Great lakes Trek. Fresh air, soothing Greenery, fascinating blue water of the lakes, Huge landscapes , Gigantic Mountains… Everything was just astonishing . Still in hangover of it…. The India hikes staff was very supportive , energetic & helpful . Especially Dashodh ( Technical support ) , Sudip ( Trek leader ) , Saddam & Shakil ( Guides) & The cook ‘Kaji’ I would like to mention one amazing thing happened during this trek. 4th of August was my wife’s birthday & she was there with me on the trek . India hikes staff made a proper birthday cake for her & we celebrated her birthday At Gadsar pass Army camp, which is the highest point of this trek. Hats off… to India hikes staff for such a sweet gesture. It was really overwhelming… Thanks a lot for such a fantastic experience . Cheers !!!”
Lakshmi T from August 2015 batch : “the meadows and of course the beautiful beautiful lakes and the trek leaders and guides and the food! Indiahikes support staff was excellent and so were the cooks , giving us a wide range of fluids like tea soup and yummy fryums and pakoras!!”
Vishal R Nishar from August 2015 batch : “Kashmir Great Lakes has Amazing Medows & Lakes”
Abhineet Menaria from August 2015 batch : “The meadows of Kashmir were fantastic and very serene.”
Sneha Tulsyan from July 2015 batch : “The trail was superb. It covered almost all kinds of terrains from rough mountains, river crossing, forests, boulders, Meadows, lakes, some snow too.The The rest day was the best when we could venture around. The staff was extremely supportive, helpful and fun.”
Uday Paranjpe from July 2015 batch : “The view, the spectacular landscape…was fantastic.”
Sanjay R from July 2015 batch : “The overall experience was fantastic. We had the privilege to trek with an awesome team and an awesome trek lead.”
Pooja Sethi from July 2015 batch : “The beautiful lake views, spectacular trekking areas and the guide Dashod were amazing.”
Kritarth Chandra from July 2015 batch : “Everything about the Kashmir Great Lakes trek was fantastic.”
Girish Kumar Mishra from July 2015 Batch : “The best part was the trek route and the nature .The support team of Dashod along with the cooks and porters complemented the trek.”
Ashutosh Chaturvedi from July 2015 batch : “This was my first trek. The first day was brutal. I didn’t think that I would finish the trek.However, the trek leader and the group put their weight behind me and we fought like a family. The sights to follow were rewarding, beyond belief, and motivating as well. The facilities provided on the trek by Indiahikes were well thought of. I have now a fresh set of friends, and I will be coming back.”
Shanker from July 2015 batch : “The scenery during the first 3 days was mind blowing.The weather also was cooperative which helped make it a memorable experience. The food on all the days was outstanding.The tent & the sleeping bag related facilities was really good & clean. One of the real nice touches of this trek starting from the 2nd day was the person who was there to provide a refreshing juice around 30 mins before we reached the final destination of the day. It was just heavenly stuff what he had ready for us to drink where we were wondering when we will reach destination.”
Nimish from July 2015 batch : “The trek through Kashmir valley was incredibly beautiful and the guide (Javed) and the trek leader (Gurdit) were both excellent and very helpful. I was surprised by how awesome the food was, during the trek. Kudos to the main chef Mangal. All the helper staff, comprising of local people, were warm and helpful to us.”
Shekhil from July 2015 batch: “Beautiful place and spectacular team! It was a perfect combo. I loved it and I can never forget the experience in my life that I had with this trek. I am still not able to believe that I had such an experience or whether I was in a dream, the places were so beautiful that I am sure from here after my dreams will be always beautiful. Thank you Indiahikes for providing this experience!”
Chandra Dhayalan. S from July 2015 batch : “Well Organized, Good trek leader and Great food for the mountain.”
Anuj from July 2015 batch : “Trek covered every thing the rain, ice patches, rocks, green planes, walk through clouds, chilled peaks , shiny hot sun, army camps, spectacular lakes, river crossings, woods, slushy and muddy walks. weather and terrain change randomly and frequently which makes this trek a box of surprises with pristine and real challenges. Support team, Technical team and guide had done every thing in helping trekkers and making atmosphere positive.”
Romit Agrawal from July 2015 batch : “Scenic Beauty of the trek was amazing. We have faced different climate condition on each day. On 5th day we had to cross the Satsar Pass, when we had started, it was clear sky but later on rain joined the party and we had our best experience in our trek. All trekkers took-off their poncho’s and rain cover, slope was about more than 55 deg., it was freezing like we couldn’t feel our foot and when we reached at the top, it was decent like hell. That was the scary and most amazing part of the Trek.”
Rushabh sanghavi from July 2015 batch : “I guess everything about this trek was fantastic. The trek left me speechless…Every step was adventurous..snow caped mountains, rapidly flowing streams, untouched unaltered stretch of grasslands. Kashmir truly is a paradise ready to embrace you…all it requires is a little hard work. It is mesmerizing and breathtakingly beautiful. Great lakes has all kinds of terrains, be it jumping boulders, crossing freezing cold streams, sliding through the ice or walking silently in the meadows. It is a heartfelt journey that leaves you choked at the end of it. I know mountains will keep calling me again after this. Graced to have been part of this amazing trek. complete staff was in tears , trekkers were in tears, trek leader was choked …there is nothing to say..it is a memory of lifetime..immortal memory. Its not simply a trek its a step closer to yourself..away from the city hustle. put your shoes on….take the mountains call..its tough but is worth it. And special thanks to indiahikes and would not forget to mention a few names here 1.our amazing trek leader , extremely humble and helping -dushyant 2.Trek guide -Aslam. So polite and kind .He treats you like family. 3.imtaiz- the ever so joyous and always dancing helper. 4.naina, parvez, Raja,ishtiaar and other kitchen staff – preparimg rajma chawal and custard at 13750 ft ..take a bow. thank you India hikes.”
Vaishali Kasture from July 2015 batch : “1. The terrain. There were all kinds of terrains. Boulders, snow, grass, water, mushy land, gravel, slush, sand etc. You name the terrain and KGL has it, which made the trek not only fun but challenging at a different level altogether. 2. The Trek Leader. Bir is a knowledge bank. You ask him a question and he will explain it to you in the minutest of the details. His decision making ability at a given situation is incredible. An extremely reasonable man. He is super-fantastic. 3. The beauty of Kashmir valleys is unmatched. It is truly paradise on earth. The entire trek was extremely dreamy. Extremely heavenly. 4. The food. Am surprised thinking about the fact that the cooks actually grated carrots to make gajar halwa enough for 30 people, or Gulab Jamun for so many people at that altitude. How did the eggs not break when transported to that altitude over a horse? How did the biscuits not break inside its own pouch? Am really surprised and cannot thank Indiahikes enough for the amazing food they fed us with. I can rate this trek a 100 on a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 being Extremely Extremely Terrific. This trek was flawless. And I mean it when I say flawless. I couldn’t find a single place where I could suggest Indiahikes anything.”
Rathod Yash from July 2015 batch: “I did the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek and I’m still hung over. It’s an amazing trek and I’m out of words. Indiahikes is just great in everything from selection of trek leaders to the support staff.”
Kavya Bhat from August 2015 batch writes : “Kashmir Great Lakes trek was my first Himalayan trek and the memories still stay fresh in my heart, I just can’t stop myself from sharing the stories of Kashmir trek to friends even now. We were 15 friends in our team along with 5 other members, 3 trek leads and other local members who take care of kitchen & horses. Those were the 8 awesome days of my life. We had no contact with the outside world, complete trek was peaceful, it had different mind blowing views every day, beautiful views of lakes from high passes, valleys, landscapes just like windows wallpaper, tiny little beautiful flowers which looks like carpet on valleys, Rainbow view when it stopped raining in one of the camp, rocky terrain on 1 day which would test your fitness literally! Long walks on another day, windy evenings and chilled nights, view of stars filled sky in the night (We were able to see milky way galaxy almost every night), freezing cold water streams near the camps. We used to play different games after reaching camp every day, discuss about various topics together and learn from them, which was really a nice thing as we get closer to people, as these days we only get connected with people through social media and not by heart! Words cannot describe such heavenly experience. I personally felt very refreshed after Kashmir great lakes trek and understood how difficult it is for the people who live there. Learnt lessons for lifetime after seeing how people struggle there for food, shelter, education for their children. We also met our proud Indian army at 2-3 points where they check the entire trek team, then permit for further trekking and realized how tough our soldiers are, whether it is rain or sunshine or may be snowfall they stand still in the borders to protect all of us, Hats off to them. They were very friendly too. Treks are not a walk on the cake, along with the mental determination, physical fitness is very much required else you may not be able to complete the trek. Treks challenge you physically and engage mentally, finally leaves you with an irreplaceable memories. Everyone in the team were helping each other and kept motivating to complete the trek. Trek leads helped us in all ways, guided us throughout the trek and all the members who prepared tasty food every day, horses who came along with us carrying the tents, kitchen essentials & all the hard work and support of Indiahikes team is something unforgettable and appreciable. This trek made me addictive to Himalayas. I wanna go for more Himalayan treks and would love to choose I would recommend Indiahikes for treks as they strive hard to provide us best trek experience with all the safety measures and feel happy when trekkers are happy. Indiahikes takes all the necessary measures for safety & leads are well trained to handle emergency situations, lead carry oxygen cylinder with him, check our oxygen level in blood every day in the camp and guide us on physical fitness, apart from this they ensure trekkers get best food even on such high altitude which made all of us to recommend Indiahikes to others as well.”
Alpana Binani from July 2015 batch writes : “Mind-blowing beauty. Mother Nature’s hidden treasures worth visiting because the vision it creates in the heart lasts forever. Personal attention to each one in the group, courteous helpers, efficient and dedicated team n team leader , Dushyant , exotic spots chosen, flexibility in their approach is why I would recommend Indiahikes to a friend.”
Balaji velayutham from August 2015 batch writes : “We came across every type of climate and terrain during the trek. Rain, hailstorm, scorching sun, a little bit of snow, boulders, meadows etc.,The whole team from the trek leader and his team to the people who work in the kitchen were very friendly and very helpful. We wouldn’t have been able to complete the trek without their help and encouragement.”
Rebecca dleema from August 2015 batch writes : “I believe there are tons of organisation who plan the exact same itinerary. The one thing that Indiahikes in my last two treks stands out for is the kind of people that we end up dealing with . May it be the office where we call tons of times for silly questions, to the trek leaders, to the guides, to the cooks, food we eat, overall facilities etc. Its nothing but the ” customer service” that I would say is outstanding. Its not about the luxuries that we get on a trek but its those small things that matter the most”
Shikhar Mukesh Shah from July 2015 batch writes : “Ill just list down what i feel makes the KGL An Amazing trek. 1) The Beauty – Kashmirs Raw Natural Beauty experienced first hand will ruin Srinagar or any other Hill station for you forever. 2) The Difficulty – An Ideal first trek which tests u and challenges u but doesn’t put u down. Adventure and ease mixed together. The warmth and the awesomeness of our Trek Leader – Dushyant Sharma and the amazing food that the Kitchen team served us all the way through. Doing it with IndiaHikes is so easy and hassle free. Thanks”
Dhanasekharan Kannadasan from August 2015 writes : “You can reveal your inner spirit on this trek, this trek will make u believe thaf you achieve anything if u determined to do it. The best services, awesome guides, best food.”
Indraneel Ghose from August 2015 batch writes : “The incredible natural beauty we saw all along the trek. If there is heaven on earth I saw it on this trek. The trek was extremely well organised. It was my first organised trek and all future ones I do will be with Indiahikes.”
Anand Guruprasad from September 2015 batch writes : “As my first Himalayan trek looking for more than a easy trek, this provided a considerable challenge along with incredible views and fun of the travel. (Not to forget a decent height of about 14,000 feet). Your trek with Indiahikes will be extremely comfortable. From the logistics of organizing to the comfort of the sleeping bags to the wonderfully delicious lunch served at 14,000 feet is just one of the few reasons.”
Abhishek Kamath from August 2015 batch writes : “The view of the twin lakes from the Zach pass was the best part of the KGL trek. The climb up that day was quite challenging and it was a true test of your physical and mental strength but as soon as you reach the top, the view of the twin lakes is probably the best view that I have seen in a very long time. It makes you realize why Kashmir is called heaven on Earth.The biggest reason has to be the quality of Trek lead and the Support staff. Any trekking company can provide the views, but only few can provide the quality experience along the way …. The second reason would be Food Of course :)”
Ritu from August 2015 batch writes : “During 7 days , you get to experience beautiful lakes , so untouched , those snow peaked mountains , you get to cross streams , boulders , you enjoy the beauty of beautiful green meadows , you do what you think you wont be able to , you surpass your own fears and with each day , you become more alive. They way leaders like Dashod motivate you at every step to complete this trek so that you are definitely not the one who miss single thing about the trek”
Venkat Prasadh Sudhakar from September 2015 batch writes :”Mountains and the Blue Lakes gives you serene experience all though out the trek.indiahikes gives you the best trek lead, local guide for the lead, best food there in the Himalayas and they organize the trek very professionally.”
Ashish Bhatt from September 2013 batch writes : “It was 8 days of total awesomeness in wilderness, Totally cutoff from the world with jus the trek group helping and pushing each other every day to cross the mighty passes and valleys and in turn getting to see some splendid and mind-blowing views of lakes , high passes and valleys along with beautiful Kashmiri villages and people. The trek had every damn thing high passes, beautifull views of lakes from top of the passes, Great lakes, valleys, Rainbow when it stopped raining and sun gave a peekaboo, snowfall , walking on rocky terrain whch would test anybodys skill, long long walks , windy cold evenings and nights. Words cannot describe what I saw and felt. Thanks to Indiahikes who organised it so well. special thanks to them as Igot to see what Ihad only dreamt off, thanks for that. Beautifull and truly incredible india.it only needs to be explored on foot . The last day descent is hard on knee otherwise its all pleasant.”
Sushila Rajgopal from September 2013 batch writes : “A lot has been said about Kashmir being Paradise on Earth. About this trek being the most beautiful one of all. True, but let me give you some ground realities. The trek is tough, but not too tough. It requires mental strength to walk 10 km a day in a desolate and seemingly endless landscape where not a soul other than your team exists. The ascents are not technically difficult but are steep, long and can test your endurance. -”
Gagan Gaba from September 2013 batch writes : “It’s been a month since I have returned back from my mini Switzerland Trip.. Yes it is ..! I just can’t stop myself telling stories of my trek to friends, family and colleagues.. It is rightly said that Travelling leaves you speechless and turns you into a story teller.”
Babita from September 2013 batch writes : “Truly speaking, it was a life time experience for many of us. The mere 30 people became a part of the journey we will fondly and proudly remember for our life time. We had great times, made friends, had lots of wow moments. We are yet to come out of those moments. -”
Sarath Champati from September 2012 batch writes : “I have been very quite after I returned from the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek…I was wondering why…then I realised that maybe I am just like an ancient Sage who just returned from high Himalayas after months of meditation and extended reflection?! Did I achieve that ‘inner peace’,I wonder? You just went there for a week, you idiot, an inner voice taunted me! But why am I feeling such intensity,I retorted…I am still having this internal debate. -”
Raghu Mittal from July 2012 batch writes : “After hearing a lot about Kashmir great lakes and the beauty of Kashmir, it was swfinite that I was going to do this trek. Sonmarg was easily the most beautiful base camp I have ever seen with snow covered peaks clearly visible. -”
Shruthi Sabarwal from June 2012 Batch writes : “The Great Lakes Trek was my first ever trekking experience. And what an experience it was. While the pictures I had seen on the website made me believe it would be a nice walk in the meadows,it wasn’t, and thank God for that! My time spent on the trek is probably been one of the most fulfillingand personally enriching. This comes from the fact that on a trek like the one I did, you are learning somuch about yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally. -“