12 to 55 years
12 to 55 years
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
The Most Beautiful Trek In India
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 on 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!
Kashmir Great Lakes Videos
Watch these videos to prepare well for your trek.
A route map of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek
Drive from Srinagar to Shitkadi (6,175 ft)
Drive Distance: 80 km | Drive Duration: 3-4 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar
Transport will be organised at 12.30 pm from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar. The cost of the cab is Rs 3,000 for a 5-6 seater and needs 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 Gagangir on time for it.
There can be curfews around Srinagar or in Kashmir which might prevent you from reaching the basecamp on time if you are touring on Day 1.
Trek from Shitkadi to Nichnai
Trek Distance: 11.6 km | Trek Duration: 6.5 hours | Altitude Gain: 7,780 ft to 11,838 ft
Moderate climb with a combination of moderate to steep ascent through the pine and maple forest section for about 3 hours. This is followed by a descent through a river valley. The final two hours are a trek with a gentle ascent to reach the campsite of Nichnai.
Trek from Nichnai to Vishnusar
Trek Distance: 13.5 km | Trek Duration: 7 hours | Altitude Gain: 11,838 ft to 12,011 ft
A Moderate day with a gradual ascent followed by an hour-long climb to the pass. From the pass, you need to descend for about an hour easing off into a flat walk to reach the campsite.
Trek from Vishnusar to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass
Trek Distance: 16 km | Trek Duration: 7.5 hours | Altitude Gain: 12,011 ft to 12,200 ft via 13,850 ft
Moderate-Difficult day with a steep ascent to Gadsar Pass followed by a steep descent, easing off into a longer walk on the wide stretches of meadows.
Trek from Gadsar to Satsar
Trek Distance: 11.5 km | Trek Duration: 4.5 hours | Altitude Loss: 12,200 ft to 12,100 ft
Another Moderate day with a steep climb to begin with and then followed by a levelled walk. Once you reach the Maengandob plains, a gradual ascent starts to reach the series of Satsar lakes.
Trek from Satsar to Gangabal
Trek Distance: 9 km | Trek Duration: 6 hours | Altitude Loss: 12,100 ft to 11,651 ft
Difficult day with boulder hopping for the first half an hour followed by a steep ascent for about 45 minutes and then a steep descent. Similar to the previous days, ascending and descending trail all through.
Trek from Gangabal to Naranag. Drive to Srinagar
Trek Distance: 13 km | Trek Duration: 6 hours
Drive Duration: 2 hours | Altitude Loss: 11,651 ft to 7,450 ft
Moderate day with a mix of ascents and descents for the half way stage followed by a steep descent all the way down to reach Naranag.
For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir. The buffer day is mandatory to keep in your itinerary.
If the buffer day is used, you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.
- Advisory Note: There are often uncertainties when it comes to trekking in Kashmir. If you're planning any trek in Kashmir, ensure you book flexible flight tickets, that allow you to reschedule your flight at no added costs. These are easily available with most airlines.
- In case of emergencies, we will reroute treks to other trails. Please ensure you're mentally prepared in case such situations arise.
- For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir.
- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a photocopy of their photo id along with the mandatory documents of the Medical Certificate and Disclaimer form. This is required for trek permissions before and during the trek.
- There are no facilities at Gagangir. Do not leave this or any other gears till the end.
- If the buffer day is used, you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +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 arrangements for a stay in Srinagar at the end of the trek.
- We have a Cloak Room facility at the pickup location of Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels for excess luggage. Do not leave behind any valuables in the cloakroom.
Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.
A route map of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek
You'll love the drive to Shitkadi! It follows the Sindh River all the way. The view gets especially pretty around 40 minutes after you leave Srinagar when you reach Ganderbal. There are lovely paddy fields on your left.
From there, you cross the Sindh river, and then enter the valley that leads to Sonamarg. Here, watch for the landscape on your right.
Your trek ends at Naranag. Don't forget to visit the Wangath Temple ruins where the trek ends.
The road head meets at Kangan and you follow the Sindh River again and towards Srinagar during your return journey. The drive is again 4-5 hrs
Campsites at a Glance
At Indiahikes, we are very particular about choosing terrific campsites. For the Kashmir Great Lakes trek too, after a lot of back and forth, we have settled on these terrific campsites, which trekkers have come to love.
Your first campsite would be the Nichanai campsite. Nichnai grasslands show you how massive and rugged meadows can be. Picture by Sachin
Smooth green grass, almost manicured, a few lone maple trees and a few horses enjoying the graze are what Satsar meadows look like where your campsite is. Picture by Sachin
Shitkadi is right next to the NH1 highway. You get to see the Kolohoi glacier in the backdrop with the Sindh river flowing right next to you. Picture by Nimesh Mittal
Why I Believe Everyone Must Trek: A Note from the Founder
Trekking transforms lives. It has completely changed my life. When I see my colleagues at Indiahikes, all of them have been impacted greatly. The transformations have been profound and irreversible.
I see it in our trekkers too. I have seen them change professions, careers or start a new life. I have seen them get in and out of relationships, and start new projects. These are life-changing experiences.
I have seen children building resilience. I have seen families come together. When I see those above 55, I see them rediscover passion and a sense of purpose. These are not small gains.
In the mountains new professions, new economies and new businesses have opened up. Our staff no longer go to cities to earn their living. Their income has increased. Above all, they are happiest working in this world. Trekking has been truly transformative.
Everyone must trek. It transforms lives far more than you imagine.
What I Like and Don’t Like About the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
What I Like About the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
The setting of meadows, horses grazing beside you and the glacier waters flowing is a set taken for endless wallpaper moments.
Picture by: Suresh Kerkatta
Know Your 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 superficial 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. Trekkers find that extremely useful.
Things Nobody Tells You About Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
The Naranag temple was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the ancient Kayastha Naga Karkota Dynasty. It is believed to be built in the honour of Shiva. Multiple carvings which can be linked to Shiva are found here, and so is the Shivaling.
Another field of study also believes it to be dedicated to the Nagas (divine snakes in Hindu mythology). These Nagas were widely worshipped in ancient times in the region which is now Kashmir. These were also said to be the primary religion during that time. The Karkota dynasty members were religious devotees of the Nagas.
One of the most famous archaeological sites in India, it is built with the characteristic Aryan style of the 8th century. Now lying mostly in ruins, it is still a beautiful archaeological and religious place.
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