Difficulty Moderate-Difficult
Duration 7 Days
Highest Altitude 13,800 ft
Minimum Age 12 Years

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

The Most Beautiful Trek In India

Here are some great treks to do in Sept, Oct and Nov

To us at Indiahikes, autumn is one of the best seasons to trek. It opens up the higher altitude treks, and gives us the best views and colours compared to any other season.
View Treks
Difficulty Moderate-Difficult
Duration 7 Days
Highest Altitude 13,800 ft
Minimum Age 12 Years

Kashmir Great Lakes is one of the most beautiful treks in India. No question. It validates Kashmir’s mythical status as heaven on earth.

This is because the trek is set in a canvas that’s larger than life. It is situated 75 km northeast of Srinagar. Every day is a 360° panorama of wild, rugged mountains, rolling meadows, and turquoise alpine lakes.  And you get more than seven of these lakes and five very different valleys to explore!

The range of landscape makes it a moderate-difficult trek spanning over six days. This means it has long trekking days with steep ascents and descents with no easy exit points. So, it’s not meant for a beginner who hasn’t been exposed to high-altitude treks.

Having said that, the challenges are worth it. Each day is postcard perfect, with a new alpine lake to look forward to. What makes these lakes even prettier are the snow patches that feed these lakes. You see them sliding off the serrated mountains into the lakes. Sometimes you’ll see milky white icebergs floating on the lake’s inky blue surface.

And then there are meadows of Kashmir.  These meadows come in every shape and size, sometimes many in a day.

On the first day, clumps of maple and pine grow like an oasis in these meadows. On the second day, they roll off a pass descending to a wide valley where horses run and sheep graze. On the third day, just below the Gadsar pass, wildflowers grow in wild abandon on these meadows. On the fourth day, the grassy plain of Satsar looks almost manicured – with a twinkling stream gliding through it.

After this trek, every other trek feels as though it is a movie on a small screen. Kashmir Great Lakes, however, is an IMAX 3D experience – such is the grandeur of the trek.  If you have not done this trek, put it on your bucket list!

 

Trek Fee:
14,750 + 5% GST
VIEW DATES

Trek Fee

14,750
+ 5% GST

This fee includes everything from basecamp to basecamp. See Inclusions and Exclusions

View dates / Register

Are You Fit Enough To Do This Trek?

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS

  1. Pickup and Drop from Srinagar: We will pick you up from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu Barbara Shah Chowk, Srinagar at 1.00 pm. The process of your registration, health screening, and document verification starts at 4 pm. Ensure you reach Shitkadi on time for it.
  2. Rental Gear: Don’t buy. Rent from a range of products available on Indiahikes store. Renting all gears from head to toe doesn’t cost you more than Rs 2000 for the entire trek. See here
  3. RT-PCR Negative Certificate: Mandatory for Indiahikes treks. Without it, you will not be allowed to trek. You are exempted only if you’ve had two doses of vaccine or were infected with COVID-19 in the last three months.

Kashmir Great Lakes Videos

Why Kashmir Great Lakes Is The Prettiest Trek in India
05:43mins
61849 viewsAugust 08, 2017

Kashmir Great Lakes Videos

Expert Speak

Sandhya UC
Kashmir Great Lakes is undoubtedly India’s most beautiful trek. Naturally, KGL is also the favorite trek for most people at Indiahikes. So here are some reasons that make us absolutely love this trek.
- Sandhya UC, Co-Founder & COO

What I like about the trek

1. The magnificent mountain scenery on the trek

Most treks in the Himalayas are very scenic. But Kashmir Great Lakes is on a scale of its own. In fact, the mountains of Kashmir are like that. They have a larger-than-life presence around you. I would not be exaggerating too much if I say that a trek in Kashmir is like watching on an IMAX screen while everywhere else is on a normal TV screen. Kashmir — you feel it everywhere.

2. The variety of the valleys and meadows

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek has 7 trekking days. And coincidentally you are also trekking in 7 different valleys.  What’s more, each of these valleys, spread themselves out each day of the trek. Every valley gives hard competition to the valley before and the valley after.

Kashmir Great Lakes Indiahikes
The larger-than-life scale of the mountains. Photo by Jones

Among the 7 different valleys you trek, 6 happen to be distinct grasslands or meadows. These high altitude meadows and grasslands are connected to one another via high passes. One would expect the meadows on either side of a pass to be similar. But they aren’t.  Each one of them is a world of its own and has a charm of its own.

The Shekdur meadows also known as table top set amidst Maples and Birch trees is where you start. Nichnai grasslands show you how massive and rugged meadows can be. Just cross the Nichnai pass and you enter a meadow that you don’t want to end.

A wide grassland, descending gently laden with wildflowers, a gentle river flowing in the middle is what the Vishnusar grassland is all about.

Kashmir Great Lakes Indiahikes
The grasslands of Kashmir. Photo by Suresh Kerkatta

The Gadsar meadow is more dramatic. It is narrower with more jagged mountains lining on either side. A big Gadsar occupies the central landscape but leading to it are many smaller lakes. Flowers bloom in the entire valley in wild abandon.

Climb up from Gadsar valley and you get transported to the “windows wall paper” valley of Satsar. Smooth green grass, almost manicured, a few lone maple trees and a few horses enjoying the graze is what Satsar meadows looks like. I have never seen greener grass anywhere else.

The final grassland is the Gangabal expanse. When you see the valley below from Zaj pass, you are almost looking at the world map in green. Gangabal in blue looks like Africa! Nandkol lies by its side. 4 other lakes also dot the green landscape.

Personally for me, it is the meadows on the trek that take the cake and are my top reason to love KGL.

3. The lakes

You cannot talk about Kashmir Great Lakes Trek without mentioning the lakes. When I saw one or two pictures of the lakes before my exploration, I thought they were photoshopped pictures from some Scandinavian country. I did not believe such lakes existed in the mountains of our country. These crystal clear high altitude lakes change colors all through the day.

Kashmir Great Lakes Indiahikes Twin Lakes
The twin lakes of Gangabal and Nandkol. Photo by Suresh Kerketta

Starting from clear at dawn to sea green to light blue to inky blue by evening. The twin lakes Vishnusar and Kishansar, the sea green Gadsar with ice floes, the sight of gigantic Gangabal along with its twin Nandkol are some of the best lake scenery you will see in the world.

4. The colors of Kashmir Great Lakes

KGL is best done in the months of July/August and early September. These are monsoon months in the rest of India but the other side of Pir Panjal gets much less rain. Nevertheless, the mountains get their summer showers and the flowers bloom into a riot of colors.

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Indiahikes
The vibrant colours of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Photo by Prasanth Premchandran

Different valleys have different colors. The pinks, purples, yellows, and whites. As the months change so do the flowers. Adding to the colors on the trek are the colors of the sky, the grass, the rocks, and the water. It will not be far-fetched to say that the green is greener and the blue is bluer in Kashmir. Every color is brightly saturated.

You will like Kashmir Great Lakes trek just for its vibrant colors.

What I don’t like about the trek

1. The dhabas on the trek

In the last 4-5 years a lot of dhabas have sprung up on the trek. Especially in the beginning and towards the end. My ideal trek is away from civilization. I go out to get away. Even a hot cup of tea on a tiring trail will not make me root for a dhaba on a trail. Thankfully they are only on the periphery of the trail.

2. The  garbage on the trail

This is a total bummer on the KGL trail. For a very long time, the campsites around the first and the last lakes on trek are littered with camping leftovers. No matter how many sacks of litter our trekkers pick from Gangabal and Nandkol or Vishansar, these camps get littered by the short campers who come to the lakes.

The trail to Vishnusar around Nichnai and the trail down to Naranag in the pine forest is also littered. I sincerely hope better sense prevails in those who come to these lakes.

3. Unexpected challenges on the trek

Thanks to the lovely green meadows, trails lined by mountain flowers and the aquamarine lakes, everyone assumes Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a walk on grass. The reality is far from it. It is a moderate-difficult trek.

Long trek days and high passes to cross are a reality everyday. There are quite a few rocky sections to negotiate too. You get them 3 or 4 times on the trail when you least expect them. I would say these unexpected challenges make the trek even more spectacular.

The Story Behind Kashmir Great Lakes Exploration

This video is a candid take on how the Kashmir Great Lakes trek came about. It gives you a behind-the-scenes peek into how we explore our treks.

In this, Indiahikes Founder Arjun shares a lovely backstory about what made them choose Kashmir. You also hear stories about how Sandhya, our co-founder, stitched two treks together to make this as one trek.

The video is rife with stories about the challenges faced while exploring such uncharted territories.

It is extra special because it’s about our first ever Kashmir exploration. A place that was never before considered as a trekking destination — until Indiahikes put it on the trekking map of our country.

Perhaps one day you may explore a trail similarly. There are still lots to discover! As Indiahikes, we would love for you to be part of such expeditions.

Without further ado, here’s the video:

Trek Fee

14,750
+ 5% GST

This fee includes everything from basecamp to basecamp. See Inclusions and Exclusions

View dates / Register

Are You Fit Enough To Do This Trek?

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS

  1. Pickup and Drop from Srinagar: We will pick you up from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu Barbara Shah Chowk, Srinagar at 1.00 pm. The process of your registration, health screening, and document verification starts at 4 pm. Ensure you reach Shitkadi on time for it.
  2. Rental Gear: Don’t buy. Rent from a range of products available on Indiahikes store. Renting all gears from head to toe doesn’t cost you more than Rs 2000 for the entire trek. See here
  3. RT-PCR Negative Certificate: Mandatory for Indiahikes treks. Without it, you will not be allowed to trek. You are exempted only if you’ve had two doses of vaccine or were infected with COVID-19 in the last three months.

Quick Itinerary

DAY 1: Drive from Srinagar to Shitkadi
It’s a 3 hours drive. Transport is arranged at 1.30 pm from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar. 
Cost of cab: Rs. 2,500 for 5-6 seater. To be paid directly to the driver.

Note: The process of your registration, health screening, and document verification starts at 4 pm. Ensure you reach Shitkadi on time for it.

DAY 2: Shitkadi to Nichnai 
Trek distance: 11.6 km | Duration: 6.5 hours
Altitude gain: 7,780 ft to 11,838 ft
Trek type: Moderate. 3 hours of steep ascent followed by descent for an hour. Final 2 hours, a gentle ascent to Nichnai. 

DAY 3: Nichnai to Vishnusar 
Trek distance: 13.5  km | Duration: 7 hours
Altitude gain: 11,838 ft to 12,011 ft
Trek type: Moderate. 1.5 hours of gradual ascent followed by an hour-long climb to the pass. A steep descent from the pass for about an hour easing off into a flat walk. 

DAY 4: Vishnusar to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass 
Trek distance: 16 km | Duration: 7.5 hours
Altitude gain: 12,011 ft to 13,850 ft to 12,200 ft
Trek type: Moderate. 1.5-2 hours of steep ascent followed by 1 hour of steep descent, easing off into level walk. 

DAY 5: Gadsar to Satsar
Trek distance: 11.5 km | Duration: 4.5 hours
Altitude loss: 12,200 ft to 12,100 ft
Trek type: Moderate. 1.5 hours of steep ascent followed by a level walk. 

DAY 6: Satsar to Gangabal 
Trek distance: 9 km | Duration: 6 hours
Altitude loss: 12,100 ft to 11,651 ft
Trek type: Difficult. 30 minutes each of gradual ascent followed by steep ascent for about 45 minutes and then a steep descent. Similarly ascending and descending trail all through. 

DAY 7: Gangabal to Naranag. Drive to Srinagar
Trek distance: 13 km | Duration: 6 hours
Altitude loss: 11,651 ft to 7,450 ft
Trek type: Moderate. A mix of ascents and descents for 6 km followed by a very steep descent all the way down.

Drive to Srinagar. Cab cost – Rs 2,500 per 5-6 seater cab to be paid to the driver. You reach Srinagar by 6 pm.

DAY 8: Buffer Day

| Note: Some stay options if you have an extra day at Srinagar: Hotel Shefaf, Hotel Royal Samad, Hotel Rose Petal, Athena Group of Houseboats.

 

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Route

Advisory Note: For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances on the trek and situation in Kashmir.

It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.

If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs. 1,800 per day (INR) +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.

Please note that you will be staying in tents on all days of the trek. Trekkers need to make their own arrangement for stay in Srinagar on Day 7.

In case you have an extra bag that you do not require for the trek, you can leave it at the pick up location in Srinagar and collect it after the trek. Do not leave valuables such as laptops, mobile phones, cash etc.

Know Your Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a surficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Don’t miss the ‘Frequently Asked Questions' section. Trekkers find that extremely useful.

How Does Each Day Look Like

Complete Trek Guide With Photos

Day 1: Reach Shitkadi

The trek begins at Shitkadi, which is a few kilometres ahead of Sonamarg. You will have to reach Srinagar on your own and meet the Indiahikes pick up team at 1.30 pm. The drive to the base camp will take around 3 hours.

The process of your registration, health screening, and document verification starts at 4 pm. Ensure you reach Shitkadi on time for it.

  • Altitude: 7,800 ft (2,377 m)
  • Time taken: 4 hours drive
  • For Indiahikes Trekker: Pick up is from Sheikh Feroz Tours and Travels at 1 pm

The Shitkadi campsite, few kilometres ahead of Sonamarg, is a good starting point for the trek. PC: Veera Pendyala

Day 2: Shitkadi to Nichnai via Shekdur

  • Altitude: 7,800 ft (2,377 m) to 11,500 ft (3,505 m)
  • Time taken: 6 hours, 11.6 km
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. 3 hours of steep ascent followed by descent for an hour. Final 2 hours, a gentle ascent to Nichnai.
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Sonmarg. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Sonamarg valley as seen from the top, on the way to Shekdur. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

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 and is your last place to pick up short eats. The next trace of civilization is only at Naranag, where the trek ends. Today's trek consists of a 3 hour ascent followed by a 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. This directly overlooks 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 in them 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 shepherds' 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.

Shekdur is a beautiful meadow surrounded by Bhoj trees. Have lunch here before moving 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 continues 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 side.  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. Explore Vishnusar & Kishansar twin lakes

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft (3,505 m) to 12,000 ft (3,658 m)
  • Time: 6 hours, 13.5 km
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. 1.5 hours of gradual ascent followed by an hour-long climb to the pass. A steep descent from the pass for about an hour easing off into a flat walk.
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Nichnai. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Meadows adjacent to the Vishnusar campsite. PC: Veera Pendyala

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 milestone for the day is 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. For the next 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 ft, 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, observe the Sonamarg valley and the trail you came on. 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. 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.

After descending from Nichanai pass, the trail takes you past another river. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

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. 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 besides the stream coming from the lake. There is ample camping space.

Vishnusar and Kishansar lakes are both visible from the route to Gadsar Pass. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

If you get some time you can explore the twin lakes now.

The Vishnusar lake lies 0.5 km to the left and 100 feet above 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 colour 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.

The next lake in the series is Kishansar. This lies 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 apart, 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 are 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 this ridge is the Gadsar pass. Spend time at the Kishansar meadows photographing the lake from various angles.

Day 4: Vishnusar to Gadsar via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft (3,658 m) to 12,500 ft (3,810 m) via 13,800 ft (4,206 m)
  • Time taken: 5 hours, 16 km
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. 1.5-2 hours of steep ascent followed by 1 hour of steep descent, easing off into a level walk.
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Vishnusar. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Descending through the Gadsar Pass. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

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 ft – 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 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 either side. 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 shepherds' 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 km 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 5: Gadsar to Satsar 

  • Altitude: 12,500 ft (3,810 m) to 12,000 ft (3,658 m)
  • Time taken: 6 hours, 11.5 km
  • Trek gradient: Moderate; 1.5 hours of steep ascent followed by a level walk.
  • Water sources: Carry at least 2 litres of water from Gadsar. You will find rivulets along the trail but the water might not be suitable to drink.

Satsar campsite. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

After crossing the stream, take the trail that goes up the mountain. The trail now looks like a typical western ghats 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 1,100 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 through. Choose to camp here if Gadsar lake was your last camp. If the army camp is where you started, 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 find 4 or 5 lakes with water, depending on the season. 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. 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 6: Satsar to Gangabal twin lakes

  • Altitude: 12,000 ft (3,658 m) to 11,500 ft (3,505 m)
  • Time taken: 6 hours, 9 km
  • Trek gradient: Difficult. 30 minutes each of gradual ascent and descent followed by a steep ascent for about 45 and then by a steep descent. Similarly ascending and descending trail all the way through.
  • Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water. You will find a stream mid way during the descent to refill your water bottles.

View of Gangabal and Nandkol twin lakes from Jaj pass. Mt Harmukh is prominent in the background. PC: Sushant Ale

Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by a 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 1,000 ft 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.

A total of 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 is the Nandkol. You now know your destination. It is 1,400 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 all around. A 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 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 7: Gangabal to Naranag

  • Altitude: 11,500 ft (3,505 m) to 7,450 ft (2,271 m)
  • Time taken: 6 hours, 13 km
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. A mix of ascents and descents for 6 km followed by a very steep descent all the way down.
  • Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Sonmarg. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Descent to Naranag. PC: Vishwajeet Chavan

The day's trek is a killer on your toes and knees, it is a gradual descent followed by a 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 catch network, just enough to inform home that you are alive! The ridge ends and you descend to a green and a 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 see you dropping more than 3,000 ft. It is not rare to spot a lot of people trekking up here from Naranag, headed to Gangabal. Naranag slowly comes in sight at around 8,500 ft 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.

Blue irises on the way to Satsar are hard to miss. PC: Anirban Banerjee

Day 8: Buffer Day

For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances on the trek and situation in Kashmir.

| Note: Some stay options if you have an extra day at Srinagar: Hotel Shefaf, Hotel Royal Samad, Hotel Rose Petal, Athena Group of Houseboats.

Mobile connectivity and ATM point

Please note that prepaid SIM cards do not work in Kashmir. Make all your important telephone calls at Srinagar since mobile connectivity after this will be very poor. Please inform anxious family members about poor connectivity during the trek.

While Kangan, on the way to Sonmarg, has an ATM, we do not stop there unless it's an emergency. Hence, it is advisable that you withdraw money, if required, at Srinagar.

Please note that prepaid SIM cards do not work in Kashmir.

Banner image by Anirban Banerjee

Plan Your Travel

A Quick Guide to Plan Your Travel Dates and Time

It is great to see you going on the Kashmir Great Lakes, one of the most beautiful treks in India. While it is a great trek to do, you need to get your travel plan worked out perfectly. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do next. Use this guide and nothing else to plan your travel.  

1. Here’s a quick view on how to plan your travel


Day -0: Book your air ticket to Srinagar. If you reach in the morning, you can think about traveling to Sonamarg on the same day instead of staying at Srinagar. Click here for more explanation. 

Day 1: Srinagar to Shitkadi; 75 km, 3.5 hrs

Transport will be arranged at 1.30 pm from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar.  It costs Rs 2,300 per vehicle (shared between 5-6 trekkers)

Day 2: Trek from Shitkadi (7,780 ft) to Nichnai (11,075 ft), 5 hours

Day 3: Trek Nichnai (11,838 ft) to Vishnusar (12,011 ft), 7 hours

Day 4: Trek Vishnusar (12,011 ft) to Gadsar (12,200 ft) via Gadsar Pass (13,850 ft), 7.5 hours

Day 5: Trek Gadsar (12,200 ft) to Satsar (12,100 ft), 4.5 hours

Day 6: Trek Satsar (12,100 ft) to Gangabal (11,651 ft), 6 hours

Day 7: Trek Gangabal (11,500 ft) to Naranag (7,450 ft) and Drive to Srinagar on the same day. The drive to Srinagar is about 6 hours. You will reach Srinagar by 7.00 pm.

Day 8: Buffer day 

| Note: Some stay options if you have an extra day at Srinagar: Hotel Shefaf, Hotel Royal Samad, Hotel Rose Petal, Athena Group of Houseboats.

Day 9: Book return flight ticket from Srinagar. Do not book plane tickets to your hometown from Srinagar on Day 8. Click here for more explanation. 

| Note:

  1. While getting to Srinagar, we recommend you arrive a day earlier and stay at Sonamarg. If you are unable to stay at Sonamarg, then stay close to the pickup location. Staying at Srinagar or Sonamarg gives you a well-deserved rest for the night. Plus some bonus sightseeing.
  2. On your return, your trek ends at Naranag. We again arrange for transport for trekkers to reach Srinagar. You reach Srinagar between 6.00 and 7.00 pm. 

It costs Rs 2,300 per vehicle on the way back from Naranag. It is better to travel with the team when in Kashmir. If you are planning anything after the trek, kindly plan after reaching Srinagar. 

| Buffer Day: Keep a buffer day for emergencies. Your trek is 7 days long, but keep an extra 8th day as your buffer day. This is outside the itinerary. You cannot predict bad rain, landslides or a political situation on a trek. If you don’t use the buffer day on the trek, you can always use it for sightseeing in Srinagar. 

Always book your return flight/train tickets after including the buffer day in your itinerary.  

 


2. Planning your onward flight/train booking  

If you are travelling from Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai or any other city, book your air tickets for Day Zero, which is the day before Day 1 on the itinerary. If your trek start day is 24 July, book your air tickets for 23 July to either Srinagar. 

There are two options.

Option 1:
Fly directly to Srinagar. 

We recommend this. It gives you an added rest day at Srinagar or even better if you are able to head towards Sonamarg.

You can travel to Sonamarg if you land at Srinagar before 12 noon.

How to reach Sonamarg? - From the airport, walk outside for 800 meters to take an auto to TRC. Auto will cost you around Rs 250 which is a good rate to pay. They might ask for Rs 300. Take a cab if you are travelling in a group. A taxi/cab will cost Rs 600 to Rs 750.

From TRC, you will get Swaraj Mazda buses frequently going to Soura which is 8 kms away. It takes about 40 mins to reach here and costs Rs 15. If you choose an auto, it will cost around Rs 150 to Rs 200.

From Soura, you get buses to Kangan which is about Rs 40. Again from Kangan, you need to change and take shared cabs to Sonamarg. This will cost around Rs 70 to Rs 150 depending on the number of travellers. If you get shared cabs directly from Soura to Shitkadi, it will cost Rs 300 to Rs 450.  

Note: Srinagar Airport to Srinagar TRC, you do have the bus service. However, they are not reliable. They do not move until they are half full.

Option 2:

Taking a train/bus to Jammu and reach Srinagar

(This option is not recommended during the pandemic. There are many roadblocks en route Jammu to Srinagar that take as long as 24 hours to open. If you opt to travel via Jammu, keep at least 2 days in buffer)

If you are taking a bus to Jammu, then you have multiple options to take. There are two gates outside Jammu ISBT. You will get shared cabs from both these gates. 

If you are reaching the Railway Station, the share cabs to Srinagar will cost between Rs 700 to Rs 1000.

| Tip: Shared cabs are more from the Jammu ISBT compared to the Railway Station. You can travel from Railway station to the bus stand. They call it as “Bus Adda”. Cost of bus will be Rs 10. Auto will charge around Rs 80 to 120. 

| Pro Tip: Go to Banihal and catch a train to Srinagar (Naogaon) (Reaching Banihal will be again via shared cabs, cost Rs 500 to Rs 700)
Auto from Srinagar Railway station to Dal Gate, around Rs 150 to Rs 200 

This is faster than coming by cabs directly to Srinagar.


3. Planning your return flight/train booking

 

Booking your return tickets require some thought. First, always book your return ticket keeping in mind the buffer day.

The drive to Srinagar from Naranag is about 6 hours. You will reach Srinagar by 7.00 pm. There are no flights from Srinagar late in the evening. So you need to stay in Srinagar. Take the flight the next day. You can book your flight tickets during any time of Day 9. The buffer day must be included in your itinerary. Day 8 is your buffer day. So plan your return journey for Day 9. 

| Note: The security check at the Srinagar airport is quite stringent. You will have 3 rounds of security checks. So reach the airport at least a couple of hours before your departure time.

Option 1: Flying out from Srinagar

Book your flight out from Srinagar.

Option 2: Taking a train/bus from Jammu

If you are taking the option of moving from Jammu, you will find shared cabs from Srinagar TRC to Jammu. The share cabs to Jammu will cost between Rs 700 to Rs 1000

| Pro Tip: Go to Srinagar (Naogaon) and catch a train to Banihal
From Banihal, you can take a shared cab to Jammu bus stand or Railway station. The cost will be around Rs 500 to Rs 700

4. Planning your hotel/stay

While booking hotels on your return, always assume book your rooms assuming the buffer day is not being used. Assume the trek is going to run without any hiccups. So what happens if you use your buffer day on the trek? Unfortunately, then you’ll probably lose your hotel booking. So book hotels where you may not have to transfer money in advance. Even if you do, consider it better than missing out on the trek. In Srinagar, it is difficult to find last minute hotel booking when you finish the trek.  

Hotel options at Srinagar

Hotel Shefaf is close to the pickup location. It is about 20 mins by auto. It has clean rooms with good amenities. The cost range from Rs 1200 to Rs 1700. 

If you are trekking with Indiahikes, then the cost will be Rs 1000 for a stay and meals (dinner,breakfast). Only for stay, it will cost Rs 500. 

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/y72bKVVQ8hEBk6Ha9

Contact Number: +91 9796522205, +91 9796522240, 0194-2507097, 0194-2507031

Email: [email protected]

Hotel Royal Samad is another hotel close by to the pickup location. 

If you are trekking with Indiahikes, then the cost will be Rs 1000 for a stay and meals (dinner,breakfast). Only for stay, it will cost Rs 500. 

Zostel is the famous chain of backpacks hostel. If you are trekking on your own, then this is a good option to consider. This is not close to the pickup location and difficult to reach.
The dorm room cost at around Rs 800 to Rs 1000. 

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3RcnUbdXxFXRheSX9

Contact Number: 022-4896-2268


5. What if you miss the Indiahikes pickup? How to get to Shitkadi on your own.

If you miss the Indiahikes pick up from Srinagar, then you can reach the base camp on your own. But if it is post afternoon of 2 pm, it is going to be extremely difficult to reach the base camp. 

The roads are closed by the army folks. They check your ID cards and do not allow certain cabs, vehicles after 3 pm from Gandarbal. 

From the airport, walk outside for 800 meters to take an auto to TRC. Auto will cost you around Rs 250 which is a good rate to pay. They might ask for Rs 300. Take a cab if you are travelling in a group. A taxi/cab will cost Rs 600 to Rs 750.

From TRC, you will get Swaraj Mazda buses frequently going to Soura which is 8 kms away. It takes about 40 mins to reach here and costs Rs 15. If you choose an auto, it will cost around Rs 150 to Rs 200.

From Soura, you get buses to Kangan which is about Rs 40. Again from Kangan, you need to change and take shared cabs to Sonamarg. This will cost around Rs 70 to Rs 150 depending on the number of travellers. If you get shared cabs directly from Soura to Shitkadi, it will cost Rs 300 to Rs 450.

| Tips when going to Kashmir:

  • When travelling in Kashmir, always travel in as a team. Traveling solo is not advised. 
  • If you’re staying overnight at Srinagar, stay in touristy areas like Dal Lake or Lal Chowk.
  • Don’t panic if there is a curfew. Keep calm and wait for it to pass.
  • Avoid going downtown areas.
  • Blend in with the crowd in terms of dressing and behavior.

How Difficult is Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

A Reality Check on the Difficulty Level of this Trek

Kashmir Great Lakes trek climbs to 13,800 feet and we rate it as a moderate-difficult. A moderate rating refers to long trekking days with steep climbs in between.

Though most pictures of Kashmir Great Lakes trek show you meadows and lakes, the trek is no pushover in terms of difficulty.

Coming to the details, you cover a total of 85 km in six days. On average you will trek 12 kms every day. The trek also makes you climb 1500 feet and descend 1500 feet every single day.

There are 3 difficult sections on this trek:

1. The challenging climb to Nichnai Pass
2. Steep climb to Gadsar
3. Tricky, boulder section after Satsar

The challenging climb to Nichnai on the first day of trek:

This is the only trek with such a challenging first day. You gain more than 3,000 ft in a span of 6-7 hours.

Apart from testing your endurance, it can also give you symptoms of altitude sickness. So, watch out for any symptoms.

Climb to Gadsar Pass:

This is a steep one and can leave you winded if you have not prepared well for the trek. The climb is steeper, arduous, on the stark landscape of the Kashmir Valley. Although you climb in a series of switchbacks, to keep going requires physical as well as mental toughness.

Satsar - Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
Tricky boulder section after Satser

Boulder section between Satsar to Gangbal:

On this day, you will come across a 40-minute long section filled with big boulders. There is no trail here. You will need to hop skip and jump on this section to cross it.

It could get difficult if you are not nimble on your feet or are not mentally prepared for this.

Is Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Safe?

Defining Safety Standards of Trekking

Trekkers often worry about the safety of trekking in Kashmir. This article will help throw some light on that aspect.

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek by itself involves some risks. 

The trek is 85 km long and goes deep into the valley. You have to cross 3 high passes. The highest altitude you go up to is 13,800 ft.  There are several streams to cross and boulders to negotiate.

 At Indiahikes, we believe that if  you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can tackle high altitude treks without much ado.

To prepare you effectively, we will touch upon the following aspects of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek below:

  • Safety while trekking in Kashmir
  • Safety - Terrain Wise
  • Safety - Altitude Wise
  • Safety - Weather Wise
  • Exit point and closest hospital to Kashmir Great Lakes trek

Safety while trekking in Kashmir

The mountains are well shielded from even the worst of the unrest. While the trekking trail is safe during times of unrest, getting to the base camp or onto the trail might get difficult.

So, here are certain pointers to keep in mind when you are traveling in Kashmir:

  • If you’re staying overnight at Srinagar, stay in touristy areas like Dal Lake or Lal Chowk.
  • Blend in with the crowd in terms of dressing and behavior.
  • Avoid going to downtown areas.Stick to tourist spaces as they tend to be safer and well-protected during times of unrest
  • Don’t panic if there is a curfew. Keep indoors and wait for it to pass.
  • If you need to move to the basecamp on days of unrest, our Indiahikes pickups happen in the early hours before dawn.

Safety - Terrain wise

With respect to terrain, Kashmir Great Lakes trek is rugged. You need to have good fitness to do this trek. The entire route is marked with:

  • Steep ascents and descents
  • Long trekking days
  • Intense boulder section after Satsar
  • No easy exit point after Vishnusar

To be safe, being prepared is the key.

For steep ascents and descents: Target to jog 5 km under 35 minutes. Do this consistently for a couple of months to be well-prepared for the long climb. Also, strengthen your glutes and the muscles around your knees. It will help in easing the ascend and the descend.

For the boulder section: Go for hopping exercises that literally help you think on your feet. Hop, skip. If there are any such sections near your city, spend some time there to get comfortable with such terrain.

Safety - Altitude wise

As discussed in the above section, you are exposed to risk of AMS when you cut the itinerary short. But if you are trekking on your own, are short on time then pay close attention to your body for any signs of altitude sickness.

As a precaution, choose to stay at Sonamarg before starting your trek to ease into the altitude gain. Going on a precautionary course of Diamox for the initial days is also advisable.

In case you feel sick or not at ease, do not ignore it or take it lightly. Attend to your uneasiness and take curative measures. Check oxygen levels, go on a curative course of diamox, drink water and rest. If you do not feel normal after a few hours or overnight, do not proceed further on the trek.

Here’s a Complete guide to Acute Mountains Sickness:

  1. What Is Altitude sickness? A Quick Look At AMS, HAPE And HACE
  2. How To Treat Altitude Sickness – AMS, HAPE, & HACE
  3. How To Prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), HAPE and HACE
  4. 3 Life Saving Drugs You MUST Have To Tackle Altitude Sickness – AMS, HAPE and HACE

While on the trek, if you experience any symptoms of AMS even in the slightest start taking steps to treat the sickness.

If you are trekking with Indiahikes, your Trek Leaders are trained and equipped to take care of any emergencies like these.

Exit Points on Kashmir Great Lakes trek

There are no easy exit options on this trek since it goes through a number of high passes and valleys. Hence evacuation in case of an emergency can take time. The narrow and steep trails make this slower than a normal descent.

Protip If you’re struggling to cope with the first two days of the trek, it is best to turn around from the Vishansar lake campsite. Moving further to Gadsar will make evacuations and exits very hard.

In case of a medical emergency, the closest hospital will be found around Sonamarg, at Baltal or Kangan. If you need serious medical attention, head to Srinagar for better facilities.

Khyber Hospital, Srinagar - Ph: (0194) 2455130, (0194) 2455119

Florence Hospital, Srinagar - Ph: (0194) 2440860, (0194) 2440760

Best Time to do Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Experience the trek in different months to plan accordingly

The best time to be on this trek is from the beginning of July to the middle of September. In fact, that’s the only time you can trek here. In all the other seasons, Kashmir trails are buried under snow.

This season brings up many questions in the mind of a trekker. Primarily because it is monsoon in the rest of the country. Will it rain heavily on the trek? Well, most trails in Uttarakhand are shut during this time. But things are different in Kashmir.

If you observe the map carefully, you see the Pir Panjal range separating Kashmir from the rest of the Indian subcontinent. This range is 288 km long and 40-50 km wide. It blocks most rain clouds from crossing over into the Kashmir Valley.

This divide determines the nature of precipitation, the vegetation in this rainshadow area. All of which stands very different from the rest of the country.

July to September happens to be peak summer transitioning to Autumn and the best time to trek in Kashmir. The landscape comes alive during this window. And even though the window is tight, you notice the landscape changing colour and texture as the months proceed.

Period What To Expect
Early July Patches of snow at higher altitudes (Nichnai and Gadsar Pass), fresh green colours, flowers beginning to bloom.
Mid-July to Mid-August Most of snow has melted, it’s the warmest period in Kashmir, dramatic landscape colours.
Mid-August to September Temperature begins to drop, flowers start to wilt, skies are brilliant blue with intermittent showers. Snowfall usually sets in after mid-September.

With the overview in mind, let’s look at the finer details of how the trek changes within this season.

Kashmir Great Lakes in early July

This is peak summer in Kashmir. The upper reaches of the trek starts crawling out of the snow blanket in July. It’s warm and you experience light evening showers during this month.

The trail to Kashmir Great Lakes opens in the first week of July. Snow still remains at higher altitudes, at Nichnai Pass and towards Gadsar. But the trek is more or less accessible.

| Caution: It’s risky to attempt a pass crossing when there’s too much snow. So hold back and exercise safety. Horses too cannot continue under such conditions.

As the snow melts, colourful flowers start appearing on the meadows. You see flowers throughout the Kashmir trekking season. But the colours of these flowers vary based on the month.

The landscape has lush green meadows punctuated with alpine lakes that are still frozen in parts.

Kashmir Great Lakes from mid-July to third week of August

After mid-July, a robust trekking season begins on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Expect bright sunny mornings with some evening showers. Rains although, they are still mild when compared to rains in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Most snow has melted by now.

The trail is carpeted with green meadows everywhere. The Gadsar meadows earn a special mention here. They look dramatic in contrast with the rugged, grey mountains around it. The best part is, these meadows are densely dotted with wildflowers!

Frozen chunks of ice in most lakes on the trail would have melted. But you will still find ice floes on the green Gadsar lake.

Protip You might experience evening showers on certain days during this time of the year. This is why it is a good practice to cross the pass early in the day and reach the next campsite by 4 PM.

Kashmir Great Lakes from Aug-end to second week of Sept

After the end of August, cold sets in.  Rains reduce giving way to one of the best times to do the trek. The clouds part during this time of the year and you witness brilliant blue skies. Their reflection deepens the blue of the alpine lakes.

| Photography Point: It's a sight to behold from Gadsar Pass. You can catch the twin lakes Krishansar and Vishnusar in one frame. They sparkle and are deep blue under a clear sky.

Another stark change that happens in early September is the change in colour of the meadows. The grass no longer retains the soft, fresh green tinge. The flowers change. And yet, there’s a beauty to this change of tone.

We usually stop our trek after the second week of September. It turns colder and chances of snowfall increase. That raises the difficulty of the trek and it's no longer possible to cross the pass. The trail on the other side becomes inaccessible.

 


Weather And Temperature On Kashmir Great Lakes

As discussed earlier, the Kashmir valley falls in the rain shadow region of the Pir Panjal range. Due to this, the valley receives mild rainfall in July and August, a lot less when compared to Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand during these months.

July, when we start the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is peak summer. While the days at the plains of Srinagar can be warm between 25 to 30° C, the mountains are pleasant. The sun can be harsh during the day when overhead. Evenings and nights are balmy hovering around 5 to 8° C at the high camps.

With that setting in mind, let's dive into the details of weather and temperature.

In July and mid-August:

July and August are the warmest months of the trek. The sun can be really harsh during the day soaring temperatures close to 20° C. Always have a sun cap with you on the trek.  Nights are balmy by mountain standards hovering around 5° C even in the higher camps.

Though these are not the traditional rainy months in Kashmir, rains are never ruled out in the mountains. You can always expect an afternoon shower  or a day on the trek with full rain.  As you move to August, chances of sporadic rains increase. It is all easily managed on the trek with appropriate rain gear.

Temperature Chart

Kashmir-Great-Lakes-Weather-Chart-Indiahikes
Click on the chart to see average temperatures on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek

Rainfall Chart

Kashmir-Great-Lakes-Rainfall-Chart-Indiahikes
Click on the Chart to see the Average Rainfall on Kashmir Great Lakes

From end of August-mid-September:

The mountain valleys in Kashmir start getting colder by the end of August. September sees temperatures dipping by 3-4° C every week. Expect night temperatures of -3 to - 5° C at the higher campsites by the second week of September.

At some campsites, watch out for the windchill factor. Especially at Satsar. That's deemed as the coldest campsite because of its positioning.

Satsar is a plateau which lies on a wind tunnel. Strong, cold winds gush through it pulling the temperature down.

| TipMake sure you are well covered even at the campsite to be protected by the cold winds

What To Take

A Packing Check-List

Kashmir Great Lakes is a high-altitude trek. The trekking gear you need to carry for this trek is different from regular treks. So pay careful attention to this entire section.

First, The Essentials. You cannot do the trek without these.

1. Trekking Shoes:

Kashmir Great Lakes requires trekking shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, have ankle support and can handle snow. You have a long distances to cover everyday. Also, there is a bouldery section to cross after Satsar campsite along with few stream crossings. Here is a quick video on how to choose your trekking shoes.  

| Buying Tip: The Trek series and MH series are good options by Decathlon. They are tried and tested. There really isn’t any necessity to buy the higher priced models. Here is a list of other budget shoes that trekkers are using.

| Rental: We have the Trek series and the MH series by Decathlon available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are already broken into and in good condition. Rental shoes are not dirty or unhygienic. This is how they are kept clean.

2. Backpack:

For a trek like Kashmir Great Lakes, you need a 50-60 litre backpack. Make sure your backpack has good hip support, shoulder support and quick access pockets. Here is a guide on how to choose a backpack.

| Buying Tip: Wildcraft, Decathlon and Adventure Worx usually make good backpacks. While Wildcraft has more expensive ones, the other two brands have budget-friendly backpacks to choose from.

| Rental: The 48 litre backpack by Adventure Worx is available on rent from the Indiahikes store. They are custom-made for our Himalayan treks. Rent them if you don’t have a backpack.

3. Clothes:

Wearing layers is the mantra in the mountains. Layers give you maximum protection from all elements. And when the weather changes in the mountains (as it happens every few hours), you take take off or put on layers as required. 

Base Layer:

3 T-Shirts:

Wear one T-shirt and carry two. Carry full sleeve dry-fit T-shirts (preferably collared). These prevent your arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trek, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn you in no time.
Dry-fit T-shirts quickly dry your sweat, they are easy to wash and in case of a rainy day, they dry quicker. Round neck T-shirts are ok, but collared ones are better.


| Buying Tip: You can get dry-fit T-shirts from Decathlon. Also, stores like Reliance Trends, Max have dry-fit T-shirts. They don’t usually cost much.

| Cotton or Synthetic? As Indians, we love cotton. Down in the plains when the heat is a blistering 40°C it makes sense to wear cotton. But it takes a long time to dry when it gets wet. In the mountains, where it is cooler, synthetic is what you wear. They wick sweat rapidly and keep you dry. (But they do tend to smell quickly, so carry a roll-on deodorant with you.)

| Pro Tip: If you are extra susceptible to cold, you could get a set of thermal inners. In our experience, wearing two T-shirts over another works as a better thermal. And they save you weight and space, since you’re already carrying them. 

3 Insulation Layers:

The highest altitude you reach on this trek is 13,850 ft. At these altitudes it can get freezing cold even in the middle of summer. You will need at least 3 insulation layers for this trek.
You will need 2 light fleece layers, 1 full-sleeve light sweater. Do not get your grandma stitched sweaters, which can be very heavy. You need sweaters and fleece jackets that can fold into compact rolls.

1 Outer Layer:

A padded jacket serves the purpose here. You don’t really need a water resistant material. But you need an outer padded jacket that keeps the wind and cold out. Ensure your padded jacket has a hood as well.

| Do you need a down/feather jacket? Not really. A regular padded/shell jacket will do. This video here will help you to learn more about the difference.

Note: Down/feather jackets are really not available these days. Many jackets masquerade as down/feather jackets. They are essentially fine polyester-filled jackets. They mimic the function of a down jacket but are usually expensive.

| Rental: Padded jackets made by Fort Collins are available on rent at the Indiahikes store. They are custom made for Indiahikes and trekkers find them terrific, even in winter.

Two Trek Pants:

Twopairs of trek pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry two  just in case it rains. Trek pants with zippered cut offs at the thighs are very suitable for treks. Also, choose quick-dry pants over cotton. They dry up soon in case of small stream crossings / rain.

| Buying Tip: Go for pants with zippered pockets. They come in handy to keep your phone, handkerchief or pocket snacks.

| Track Pants or Trek Pants? Stretchable track pants make a good backup and can double up as your thermal bottoms. But track pants are not trek pants -- so don’t use them as your main outerwear. Keep them only as a backup.

Mandatory Accessories, without these too you won’t be able to do the trek. 

These accessories are mandatory. Don’t go to Kashmir Great Lakes without them. Trekkers generally put off purchasing / borrowing the accessories for the last minute. We suggest the opposite. Start gathering these accessories first.

1. Sunglasses:

Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. On a trek like Kashmir Great Lakes, you trek to the Gadsar Pass. Expect to walk on stretches of snow, especially during the month of July. A small overexposure to direct sunlight on snow can lead to snow blindness (about a half hour’s exposure). That’s because fallen snow is like thousands of mirrors that reflect direct UV rays. So you need sunglasses with UV protection.

| Tip: Try getting sunglasses that wrap around instead of those that have openings on the side. Even peripheral UV ray exposure is not a good idea.

Wear sunglasses if the trekking day is bright and sunny (on open sections, meadows). On a snowy section you must absolutely never take off your sunglasses until the section has been fully crossed.

| If you wear spectacles: If you wear spectacles, you can get oversized sunglasses that you wear over your regular glasses (available at Decathlon). If that is cumbersome, photochromic lenses work equally well. Here’s a quick guide on managing sunglasses with spectacles.

| Contact lens users: If you use contact lenses, you can use them on the trek too. The lens solution will not freeze. You will also not face any problems in changing your lens in your tent. Just carry enough cleaning solution with you to clean your fingers well. Wear your sunglasses over your contact lens.   

 2. Suncap:

A sun cap is mandatory. Trekking without a sun cap can lead to headaches, sun strokes, quick dehydration and a sharp drop in trekking performance.

| Tip: In the mountains, the general rule is to keep your head covered at all times. During the day a sun cap protects you from the harsh rays of the sun (it is doubly stronger with naked UV rays). A sun cap keeps your body temperature in balance. In the evening/early morning, the reverse is true. Your head loses your body heat quickly. A woolen cap prevents heat from dissipating from your head.

| Pro Tip: Sun caps with flaps are a blessing for trekkers. They cut out almost all UV leaks. They prevent sun burns in every possible way. They are a lot more effective than sunscreen lotion. A wide brimmed sports hat also helps to prevent sunburn in a big way. 

3. Synthetic Hand Gloves:

On a trek like Kashmir Great Lakes you are going to be handling snow quite a bit during the month of July. You’ll need gloves to grip something or to steady yourself in snow. More than snow, the evening cold winds through the wide valley will give you the chill, especially at the campsite of Satsar. You also want the gloves to keep you warm. Get synthetic hand gloves that have waterproofing on the outside and a padded lining on the inside. If you find the combination difficult to get (not likely), wear a tight fitting fleece hand glove inside a synthetic hand glove. Hand gloves are mandatory on this trek.  

4. Woollen Cap or Balaclava:

Ensure these cover your ears. In the cold mountains, you lose maximum heat from your head, not from your hands, feet or the rest of your body. Which is why you need to keep your head protected, especially when the sun is down. Early mornings, late evenings, a cold trekking day are when you must use your woollen cap.

Your ears are sensitive too, so a woollen head cap that covers your ears is absolutely essential. A balaclava is a modern version of the woolen cap. It covers your ears, neck and parts of your face as well. Do not get a woollen cap that only covers your head. 

5. Socks (3 pairs):

Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks. Sports socks give you cushioning plus warmth. Again the mantra is to wear synthetic socks or at least a synthetic blend. Cotton socks soak in water and sweat. They are very hard to dry. As for woollen socks, they help you to keep warm and snug in the night. If you cannot get woolen socks, wearing two sports socks serves the purpose as well. 

6. Headlamp:

Trekkers are often confused about whether they need to get a headlamp or a handheld torch. You need to get a headlamp because it leaves your hands free to do other activities. On the Kashmir Great Lakes trek you’ll need your hands free to wash dishes, pitch tents and hold your trek poles.

| Buying Tip: Ensure your headlamp covers a wider area and is not too focused as a single beam. On a trek, your headlamp must help you see around you as much as ahead of you. 

7. Trekking Poles (a pair):

Trekking poles give you stability and balance. They reduce your energy consumption by almost 40%. On the Kashmir Great Lakes trek there are steep ascents and descents. A pair of trekking poles will make the difference between a comfortable and a strenuous trek. In India we tend to use a single trekking pole. However, two trekking poles give you greater stability and balance. They also increase your walking pace.

| Rental: Imported side-locking trekking poles are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.  

8. Rainwear:

On a trek, the weather can change quickly. A bright sunny day can turn into a downpour in a matter of minutes. Carry a poncho or a rain jacket to tackle this. A poncho is a big rain cover with openings for your arms and your head. It is extremely effective because it covers both you and your backpack. It is extremely light and weighs next to nothing.

Rain jackets are more streamlined and less cumbersome but weigh more. Rain pants are really not required. Dry fit trek pants dry quickly even if soaking wet.

| Rental: High grade ponchos are available on rent on the Indiahikes store.

9. Rain Cover for your Backpack:

Backpacks are your life. You carry all your dry clothes, your warm gear in your backpack. It is important that your backpack stays dry at all times. Modern backpacks usually come with built in rain-covers. If your back pack does not have a rain-cover, ensure you get a rain cover by either (a) buying a rain cover (b) or cutting a large plastic sheet to the size of your backpack. You can roll the plastic sheet around your backpack and keep it in place with a string or elastic. 

| Pro Tip: It's good practice to compartmentalise your clothes, accessories and other things in plastic covers inside your backpack. That way, even if it rains and your backpack gets wet, your things are water-proof inside the backpack.

10. Daypack (20-30 litres, optional):

Some trekkers opt to offload their bags to a porter on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. While we do not encourage this practice, in case you opt for offloading, then carrying a daypack is mandatory. In your daypack you carry essentials like water bottles, rainwear, emergency medicines, headlamp, some snacks and a warm layer. Your main backpack that carries most of your equipment is accessible only at the campsites.

A day pack is a smaller backpack that is usually of 20-30 ltr capacity. Laptop bags are not day packs. Do not get them.

Other mandatory requirement

1. A Toilet Kit:

Keep your toilet kit light. Carry just the basics -- toothbrush, toothpaste, small soap, toilet tissue roll, a small moisturiser, lip balm, and a roll-on deodorant. You will not be able to have a bath on the trek, so don’t overload on soaps and shampoos.

| Pro tip: Carry miniature-sized items. You will not need more than that. If you’re travelling in a group, share one toothpaste for all.

Avoid getting large toilet rolls. The smallest size roll is more than enough for a trek like Kashmir Great Lakes.

| For women: If you are likely to have your periods on your trek date, don’t worry about it. You can use your pads, tampons or menstrual cups on the trek. There will be toilet tents where you can get changed. Make sure you carry ziplock bags to bring back your menstrual waste. Don’t leave behind any waste in the mountains. Watch this video to learn how to dispose your sanitary waste.

2. Cutlery:

Carry a lunch box, a mug and a spoon. Your lunch box must be leak proof. You are expected to wash your own cutlery. Trekkers often expect Indiahikes to wash their cutlery. When you allow Indiahikes to wash your cutlery, your cutlery becomes part of a mass washing system. You immediately invite germs, bacteria to settle on your cutlery. Incidence of stomach disorders rises exponentially.

| Pro tip: Carry stainless steel cutlery. Avoid fancy high grade plastic cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery is infinitely easier to wash in cold water. Grease is easier to remove and hygiene is at the highest. Watch this video on why steel cutlery is better than plastic.

3. Two 1 Litre Bottles or a 2 Litre Hydration Pack:

Kashmir Great Lakes has long walking days. You need to carry two one litre water bottles to keep yourself hydrated over the distance. If you are used to a hydration pack, then that is ok too. If one among the two bottles is a lightweight thermos, then that helps you to store warm water on a really cold day or for late evenings and early mornings.

| Rental: You could rent lightweight thermos flasks from the Indiahikes store

4. Plastic Covers:

Carry 3-4 old plastic covers to keep your used clothes. You could use them even for wet clothes. Re-use old plastic bags for this and do not buy new ones.

Personal Medical Kit

Carry these medicines with you, easily accessible at all times. Do not take any medicine unless you have consulted your trek leader

  1. Diamox (1 Strip): Be on a course of a half tablet Diamox starting from Shimla every 12 hours (125 mg). Carry on the medication until you descend down to Barua. Being on a preventive course of Diamox greatly reduces the chances of Acute Mountain Sickness on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek.   
  2. Dolo 650 (5 tablets): This is a paracetamol. It helps to tackle fever, mild pain
  3. Avomine (4 tablets): Carry this especially if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop one half hour before the start of your road journey.
  4. Combiflam (5 tablets): Take a combiflam if you get a sudden twist of the leg or a muscle strain. It is a pain reliever. It also contains paracetamol. 
  5. Digene (4 tablets): Take it if you feel the food that you’ve taken is undigested. Alert your trek leader immediately. It could be a sign of AMS. 
  6. ORS (6 packs): Consume a pack of ORS water at least once a day, usually mid day when you are in the middle of your trek. It replenishes essential salts lost while trekking.  Tip: It also makes cold water easier to drink.
  7. Knee Brace (optional): Carry this if you are prone to knee injury or have known issues of knee pain.

Our trek leaders carry a high altitude medical kit with them which also consist of Life Saving Drugs. If there is an emergency our trek leaders know how to tackle it. Meanwhile, contact your trek leader before consuming any of these medicines listed here.

| Pro tip: We find that these medicines by trekkers are rarely used. But you cannot do away with them. At the end of the trek please donate unused medicines to your trek leader. Some of these medicines get distributed to villages on the trek and some are added to the Indiahikes medical kit.   

Mandatory Documents to Carry

These are documents required for legal purposes by Indiahikes and the forest department. Without any of these, you will not be allowed to trek.

  1. Original and photocopy of government photo identity card. Anything such as a driver’s license, Aadhar card, passport will do. This is required by the forest department for your identification.  
  2. Disclaimer certificate. This is a legal requirement. Download the PDF, read carefully and sign it. This must be handed over to your Trek Leader during registration at the base camp - Download PDF
  3. Medical certificate. There are two sections in this. The first part must be filled by a practising doctor. The second part must be filled by you. Without the medical certificate the forest department will not issue permissions for your trek. It is also a requirement by Indiahikes - Download PDF

| Pro Tip: Keep important documents in a clear plastic cover and slide them into the inner pocket at the back of your backpack. This keeps them from getting wet.  

How to Get Fit for Kashmir Great Lakes trek

A Step-by-Step Fitness Guide to Preparing Well for the Trek

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.

ATTENTION: There will be a fitness screening after you reach the basecamp. If your fitness is not up to the mark, your Trek Leader can take the call to not take you forward on the trek.

Cardiovascular endurance – Target 5 km in 35 minutes before the start of the trek
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek requires you to have a good amount of endurance and stamina. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.

In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.

Here’s a fitness routine that works:

In case you're just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner -

-->Target completing 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin.
--> Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in less than 35 mins.
-->This holds true for trekkers above 45 years also.

If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 25 km in 60 minutes.

How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?

Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.

Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.

Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.

Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek -- one of you covering 5km in less than 35 mins along with your picture and the other with splits of your run.

Strength - Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each

This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover in high altitude carrying your backpacks.  You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.

Flexibility

Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises - stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.

Here is a guide to help you get fit for the trek. (this includes KGL)

Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.

Inclusions and Exclusions

What You Need To Know About Your Trek Fee

Here is what your trek fee includes:

  1. Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 7 (Sonamarg to Gangabal). You will be staying  camping on all days of the trek (3 per tent).
  2. Meals – All meals from dinner at Sonamarg on Day 1 to lunch at Naranag on Day 8 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
  3. Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
  4. Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
  5. Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.

Here is what your trek fee excludes:

  1. Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Srinagar and drop you back from Naranag. This will cost approx. Rs. 2,300 per 5-6 seater vehicle one way. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
  2. Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Sonamarg and return from Naranag.
  3. Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 2,150 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Sonamarg (Rs. 350 per day inclusive of taxes).
  4. Buffer Day - If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs. 1,800 per day (INR) +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.
  5. Stay at Srinagar on the last day 
  6. Personal expenses of any kind
  7. Anything apart from inclusions

Frequently Asked Questions About Kashmir Great LakesTrek

How difficult is Kashmir Great Lakes trek?

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one of the prettiest treks in India. Yet, you’ll get to enjoy its rewards only after a bit of hard work and toil. The trek is not as easy as the pictures make it seem. It is of moderate-difficult grade. And there are mainly three factors that make it difficult.

Three strenuous pass crossings – Gadsar Pass, Nichnai Pass, and Zaj Pass.

Long hours of trekking everyday. Each day involves around 8-9 hours of trekking.

Considerable altitude gain everyday, of around 1,500 – 2,000 ft.

Here’s a video where our co-founder, Sandhya U C, who explored this route, explains what makes the Kashmir Great Lakes difficult:

Is Kashmir Great Lakes trek safe?

The Kashmir Great Lakes trail is safe. It is in the remote regions of Kashmir, away from the hotbed of turmoil. It is towards the more touristy Sonamarg region. There are also 3 army camps on the trekking trail. And we camp close to them. So the trekking trail itself is completely safe.

However, political unrest, curfews and clamp downs have occurred in the past during our trekking season. We have tackled these efficiently, never compromising on the safety of trekkers. We travel during non-curfew hours, and take measures to safely pick up or drop trekkers to the airport.

Sometimes, we call off treks if the situation is too serious (for instance when Burhan Wani was shot and the political situation in Kashmir was out of control). Calling off a trek is a worst-case scenario and has not occurred too many times in the past.

Keep in mind that if we are running the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, you can assume that it is safe. We would not compromise on anyone’s safety and run it during dangerous times.

This video by our founder, Arjun Majumdar, will give you better clarification on the ground situation in Kashmir:

Is it safe to trek in Kashmir?

Yes, it is safe to trek in Kashmir. Talking about Tarsar Marsar, while the trek remains untouched during times of unrest, getting to the base camp or onto the trail might raise concern in times of unrest.

So, here are certain pointers to keep in mind when you are traveling from Srinagar to Pahalgam and then Aru:

  • If you’re staying overnight at Srinagar, stay in touristy areas like Dal Lake or Lal Chowk.
  • Blend in with the crowd in terms of dressing and behavior.
  • Avoid going to downtown areas.Stick to tourist spaces as they tend to be safer and well-protected during times of unrest
  • Don’t panic if there is a curfew. Keep calm and wait for it to pass.
Should I do Kashmir Great Lakes or Tarsar Marsar trek?

This is a tough one! The treks are so vastly different from each other despite being in Kashmir. A basic way to make your decision would be based on your fitness. Kashmir Great Lakes is a lot tougher than the Tarsar Marsar trek. It involves crossing three mountain passes, long distances everyday, and a longer duration of being in the wilderness.

Tarsar Marsar is the easier sister trek of Kashmir Great Lakes. The trekking days are short and friendly, and you have long leisurely time at the campsites. So the trek is very beginner-friendly.

I would strongly recommend reading this article where our co-founder Sandhya beautifully compares the two treks in terms of the scenery, variety and difficulty.

Kashmir Great Lakes trek
Kashmir Great Lakes trek

Available dates

We will open up dates shortly. Click here to see other similar treks that might have dates.

  • What the colours mean
  • Available
    Registration is on.
  • Waitlist
    The group is full, but cancellations are likely to happen. We have 5 waitlist slots for every group. You may register for the group. Waitlist slots confirmation chances are high if booked more than 30 days in advance.
  • Last 'x' slots
    Indicates the number of slots available in a group.
  • Full
    Indicates the group is full. No further slots are likely.

Thoughts On Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

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15 thoughts on “Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

    1. Yes of course. We don’t see foreigners any differently from Indians. We’re all trekkers at the end of the day. 🙂

  1. It is an amazing trek over meadows full of wildflowers and breathtaking alpine lakes. The trek is moderate when it comes to those who had already some experience of High Altitude trek. India Hikes is playing an awesome role to build a trekking community of promote our trekking destinations within India.

    1. The three passes that we cross on this trek are usually blocked with snow all the way till the end of June, which is why we wait for July to open the trek. So we will not be opening up any dates in June.

  2. Hi, I m interested in doing kgl in the month of august , can you please guide what’s the best month for doing this trek and also are you guys taking trekkers this year..

    1. Hi Aditi, the best time to do Kgl is between July and September. July especially is a good time because the chance of rain is low, and it is greener during this time of year. We have already put up the dates on our website you can go check it out. Happy trekking!

  3. Hi,
    I’m making this request once again.
    Can you please share a kmz / gpx file of the trek route for KGL trek.
    regards

  4. hi
    we are group of 5 people, want to go to this trek between july to mid augest. but no slots are avaliable. pls help us

    1. Hi, most of our treks start getting filled at least two months in advance. Am afraid waiting for a slot in the Kashmir treks won’t be wise right now. Instead, if you want to trek during monsoons, you can look towards Himachal Pradesh. We do have some dates available on the Hampta Pass (https://indiahikes.com/hampta-pass/), Beas Kund (https://indiahikes.com/beas-kund/), and Bhrigu Lake (https://indiahikes.com/bhrigu-lake/) treks. If you are looking for a challenging trek, you can choose between Pin Bhaba Pass (https://indiahikes.com/pin-bhaba-pass-trek/) or Hampta Pass trek 🙂

  5. Generally, in most of the treks, its all about just going downhill to reach base camp. In KGL, practically, the fun begins after the summit which is accomplished on 3rd day of the 7 day trek schedule! Once you cross Gadsar pass, its a whole different world. Meadows, flowers, glacier lakes, snow clad mountains, beautiful streams and what not.

    Caution : Do not take Kashmir Great Lakes lightly. Its long walks through steep , gradual ascends. Everyday you need to hike around 1200 – 1500 ft and climb down to spend you night at lower altitudes. Long boulder sections, half melted snow in pass, unpredictable weather conditions make the journey challenging. So, keep yourself fit and do lots of squat.

    But all said, its a life time experience walking through the flat grassland enjoying cool breeze, green grass fields, colourful flowers with snow patched mountains in the background.

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
14,750
+ 5% GST