Kashmir Great Lakes – A Trek that requires no introduction

Among all the treks written about on our website, the Kashmir Great Lakes is overwhelmingly the most beautiful one. It is just a tragedy that it is unknown to most people.

Day 1: Arrive at Srinagar. Depart from Srinagar by 2 pm and drive to Sonamarg base camp (4 hrs).

The trek starts at Sonamarg, a 3 to 4 hour drive from Srinagar.The trek can be paced out more evenly if you make Sonamarg as your base. This gives you more trekking time on day 2.

On the Indiahikes organized treks, we depart from Srinagar at 2 pm and drive down to Sonamarg base camp to reach by 6 pm. Camping is in tents.


Day 2: Sonamarg (7,800ft) to Nichnai (11,500ft) via Shekdur

3 hour ascent followed by 1 hour descent and finally a gentle ascent to Nichnai (6 hours, 9kms)

The trek starts 3 kms out of Sonamarg, on the Srinagar road. Exactly at the 3 km mark, spot a lone Dhaba on the right. The place also sells packaged water, biscuits etc and is your last place to pick up short eats. The next trace of dwelling civilization is only at Naranag at the end of the trek.

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start of  Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

 

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 flows in between the mud track and the main road. The trekking trail starts along the track but quickly diverts higher up. 10 minutes into the trek, the trail bends left and enters a green meadow. The meadow directly overlooks the Sonamarg town.

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Meadows en route Kashmir Great Lakes

 

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.

 

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Maple Cluster at Kashmir Great Lakes

 

For the next hour and a half, the trail winds up through the Maple trees. Stick to the trail heading uphill as the ones going down head 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 the other side a meadow gently slopes down. Spend a few moments at the ridge taking in the views of the Sonamarg and its neighboring valley. The streams, the meadows, the pines and the town nestled make a wonderful picture.

 

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Sonmarg from above

 

The climb is now over and the trail slopes down into a meadow. The meadow is lined on the left by Silver Birch trees and a few shepherd huts. The carpet of green rolls down from the trees to the end of the 40ft wide meadow. Small brooks which  cross the meadow serve as water sources. On the right are small peaks with snow powdered on top of them. This is Shekdur. If you plan to have a short days trek on day one, this is where you pitch your tents for the day. It takes an average trekker about 2 1/2 hours to reach the meadow from the road head and add another half an hour if you decide to break the days trek at the end of the meadow.

 

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Shekdur camp site

 

Shekdur is a beautiful campsite surrounded by Bhoj trees. This is the only campsite with trees on this trek and therefore adds a good variety to your moments and photographs. If you have started from Srinagar in the morning, make Shekdur your first camp. The next campsite Nichnai is atleast 2 more hours away.

If you started from Sonamarg, Shekdur, just three hours into the trek is too early to camp. Have lunch at the meadows and move ahead to Nichnai.

The meadow of Shekdur stretches for half an hour. The gentle descent on the meadow ends in a forest of Bhoj or Silver Birch.  Take the trail that goes in the middle of the forest and continue to descend gently. Watch out for the sun rays making their way in between the thick foliage making it a nice show of light and dark.

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Silver Birch forest at Kashmir Great Lakes

 

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 Nichanai. 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 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 rocks and your mules will walk very slowly over here.

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More meadows and contrast of barren landscape

 

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 days trek.

Day 3: Nichnai (11,500ft) to Vishnusar lake (12,00ft) 

Medium climb to Nichnai pass 13,500ft. Small descent followed by a long flat meadow walk ending near Vishnusar Lake. (12 kms, 6 hours)

The days trek is a long walk on meadows with the scenery changing for the better all along. Start by 8 am to give you enough time en route to enjoy the meadows. Your first destination for the day is to cross the Nichnai pass or Vishnusar Berry. The pass is visible at a distance from the campsite. It  lies just to the right of the twin snow clad peaks. After half an hour of walking along the river, cross the river to move to its left bank. The next one hour, walk on the left bank. Notice that the trail slowly starts ascending as you traverse through the meadow. The following one hour is a climb to the pass.

 

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Pangi range on Kashmir Great Lakes trek

 

As you climb, notice a small lake at the foot of the mountains. The lake is deep blue in colour and you can sense your expectations raising of the main lakes to come on this trek. The pass is deceptive. 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 Nichanai pass, watch the Sonamarg valley and the trail you came from. BSNL phone network tends to work here most times. This is the last point on the trek where you get phone network. The next sign of network is only when you move beyond Gangabal.

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Vishnusar Pass of Kashmir Great Lakes

 

The Nichnai pass feels like a wide tunnel. On the left stand a series of snow clad peaks. There are no peaks on the right but the land raises on the right too. Nichnai pass is at an altitude of 13,500 ft. You are just into your second day of the trek and this by any standard is a very fast ascent. It is not uncommon for people to feel the altitude on the climb to Nichnai pass. The good news is that the trail descends from here on. The rocky trail descends rapidly. In the next hour the rocks give way to grass. Red flowers spring out next to your feet. What you see ahead is a wide green meadow stretching for miles with mountains lining the sides. A new river flows down from the pass into the meadow ahead.

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Open Plains of Kashmir Great Lakes

 

Stop here and take in the view of the peaks, the river below and the flowery meadow. Notice to your left a big waterfall splashing down the mountain cliff and joining the river.

From the waterfall, the rapid descent ends and you are now walking through the flat wide meadow. On the left are the classic snow clad Himalayan mountains but notice on your right, grey and barren mountains resembling the Ladakh ranges. Walk along in between the two ranges over the lush green carpet of grass. Two main streams flow through the valley. Stick close to the stream on the left. In half an hour, brace yourselves for another stream crossing for the day. The water is icy cold.

 

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Near Vishnusar camp site

 

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 campsite. Pitch your tents anywhere beside the stream coming from the lake. There is ample camping space.

Day 4: Explore Vishnusar and Kishansar twin lakes 

The Vishnusar lake lies half a km to the left and 100ft higher from the campsite. 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.

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The serene Vishnusar lake

 

The Kishansar peak though 0.5 km away, reflects in the lake. The reflections are wonderful when the lake is still. The color of the lake depends on the time of the day and the clouds in the sky. Early in the morning, before the sun really shines, expect clear colorless water. The lake starts getting its colors 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 color the lake looks wonderful and it is worth catching a glimpse of the lake in all its hues.

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Vishnusar camp site

 

These lakes are full of trouts and trout fishing is popular. Obtain a permit from Srinagar for fishing.

The next lake in series is the Kishansar lake. The Kishansar lake lies just about ½ km away and 500ft higher than Vishnusar. The Kishansar lake lies at the base of the Kishansar peak. It takes about 45minutes to reach Kishansar lake from the campsite. Move right towards the stream and cross it where it is easy. The trail climbs up on the right side of the Vishnusar lake. There are multiple tracks here. For those keen on photography, the one going up is more attractive as you get the view of the meadow and the lake from a height. For those who prefer an easier trail, stick to the flatter trails. Though the two lakes are only 1.2 km away, there is no point where the two lakes are visible together.

 

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Kishansar Lake at Kashmir Great Lakes

 

 

 Kishansar is also big and blue. It has a big meadow stretching on its right. The lake and the meadow is bordered on the farther side by a ridge line that raises sharply. The trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and on  the top of the ridge is the Gadsar pass. Spend time at the Kishansar meadows photographing the lake from various angles.

Day 5: Vishnusar (12,000ft) to Gadsar(12,000ft) via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass (13,750ft) 

Steep 2 hour ascent followed by a steep descent followed a gentle walk in the meadows. (5 hours, 10 kms)

 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 them will take you to the top. It is an hour and a halfs climb  to the top of the ridge a moderate pace. 45 minutes into the climb, you will be treated to one of the loveliest views you can ever imagine. Both the Kishansar and Vishnusar lakes  are in full view together. The view of the twin lakes lasts till you reach the ridge top or the Pass. This is called as the Gadsar pass – altitude 13,800ft – the highest point on this trek.

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Panoramic view of Kishansar and Vishnusar Lakes

 

On the other side of the Gadsar pass stretches a long valley with 2-3 small lakes visible. Far in the distance lie a series of snow clad peaks. The peaks lie outside our Line of Control.

It is not uncommon to find snow at the Gadsar pass and also in the initial parts of the descent to the other side. The descent is straightforward. The first small lake that is seen on the left is the Yamsar lake. The locals tend to believe that lord Yama has some association with the lake!

Beyond Yamsar is another nameless lake. An hours descent leads you into flat meadows again. This valley is narrower with two ranges running on your either sides. Notice the multicolored flowers growing up out of the green grass. It starts with red and moves on to blue and purple Iris flowers.

 

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Highland meadows at Great Lakes

 

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 one 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 Yamsir, the nameless lake and Gadsar are all connected by a stream as water flows from the higher lake to the lower. Gadsar is again at 12,500ft.

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Gadsar at Great Lakes

 

Choose to make Gadsar you campsite for its sheer beauty but only if you can vow to leave the ground as neat as you found it to be. No one camps at Gadsar. There is a small abandoned army shelter near Gadsar.

If you choose not to camp next to Gadsar, the next place to camp would be the Gadsar army camp. Continue on the downward trail from Gadsar and in half an hour the valley widens up. Spot another blue lake on the left of the valley. Notice the snow clad mountains now give way to lower barren mountains. You have lost considerable altitude again. In  another half an hour down the trail, a few Shepherd huts come up. Continue downhill and at the end of the third half hour, the army camp comes up. Gadsar army camp is just a small hut housing 5-8 army men. To move beyond the army camp, one needs permission from their Head quarters. The Head quarters  is 3 miles 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 of 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 id cards are recorded, collected and checked.

Day 6: Gadsar (12,000ft) to Satsar (12,000ft)  

Gentle descent for 1 hour followed by a steep ascent for 3 hours followed a flat meadow walk. (6 hours, 12 kms)

From the army camp move left towards the stream. The trail crosses the stream and heads up the mountain. The altitude at the stream is 10,600ft. The Satsar camp is at 12,000ft and almost 10 kms away. Crossing the stream is the easiest way to trek. If one really wants to avoid getting their feet wet in the icy cold water, then head to the bridge which a kilometer away and cross the stream. The climb up is steeper if one goes to the bridge.

After crossing the stream, take the trail that goes up the mountain. The trail now looks like a typical western ghat trail. The terrain feels very similar. You are just above the tree line. Trees and the river valley are visible below you. The hour and a half long climb takes you up by 1100ft. Once beyond the 11,500ft 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 you right are a few deep craters. This place is called as Maengandob.

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Trail leading out of the Kashmir Great Lakes valley

 

The landscape ahead is captivating. Isolated mountains stand in front. Towards the right is a small ridge. In between is a flat green bed with a stream flowing in between. Choose to camp here if Gadsar lake was your last camp. If the army camp was your start, it makes sense to cover a little more distance today and camp near the first of the Satsar lakes. Satsar is actually a collection of 7 lakes. You can actually find 4 or 5 lakes with water, depending on the season you choose to trek.

Beyond the ridge on the right is the Satsar army check post. It is the 3rd line of defence from the LOC. The same process of ID checking, collection and questioning repeats here too. Finish this today so that tomorrow is a clean day of trekking.

Ten minutes out of the army camp is the first of the Satsar lakes. The lake is pretty big and looks picturesque in its green setting with mountains in front. Choose a place to camp here for the day.

Day 7: Satsar (12,000ft) to Gangabal twin lakes (11,500ft) 

Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by long steep ascent and long steep descent followed by gradual up and down walk. (6 hours, 9 kms)

The days 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 ridgeline about 1000ft higher. It is time to gain height again. The altitude at the base of the climb is 11,800ft. 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 two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. The altimeter reads about 13,400ft. The best part however is the surprise view you get from the ridge top. Two lakes lie next to one another. A stream takes water from the higher lake to the lower. If you look keenly, two more blue lakes are seen one on either side at a distance. The smaller lakes are nameless but the biggest amongst the set is the Gangabal. Its companion by the side is the Nundkol. You now know your destination. It is 1400ft 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 Nundkol. The ascent is dry but on the descent you cross a stream mid way. Fill your empty bottles with the cold water and move on.

 

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Gangabal and Nundkol lakes

 

An hour and a half’s steep descent brings you to green meadows again. The meadow is not too wide but stretches from your right to left. A kilo meter 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 Nundkol lake. Notice that this lake is not as pristine as the other lakes you saw on the trek. Remnants of camping are there all around. Lot of people trek up from Naranag to Gangabal and go back as a weekend outing. You will wish they spared time and thought to clean up the mess they created by these beautiful lakes.

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Nundkol camp site

 

The Nundkhol lake lies at the base of the Harmukh peak. The Harmukh glacier hangs on the the sides of the rocky edges of the mountain. Both the Gangabal and Nundkhol are famous for trout fishing.

The Gangabal lake is about 20 minutes away from Nundkhol. A fiery stream flows on the right of the two lakes connecting them. The stream has to be crossed to go to Gangabal from Nandkol. Do not try to cross the stream at the lower levels but go all the way to the bank of Gangabal and on the right you find a good man made bridge laid out. Gangabal is huge. A parikrama of either of the lakes will easily take an hour.

 

Day 8: Gangabal (11,500ft) to Naranag (7,450ft)  
Gradual descent followed by steep descent. (6 hours, 11kms) 

The days trek is a killer on your toes and knees. From the Gangabal campsite head down along the stream towards the tree line. Don’t walk beside the stream but walk along the ridge on the right. 30 minutes into the trail, your aircel phone could get glimpses of network just enough to tell home that you are alive. The ridge ends and you descend to a green flat meadow on the right. The Harmukh peak looks impressive when you look back. The green meadow has little yellow flowers growing all over and you start walking gingerly to avoid stepping over them.

 

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The towering Harmukh peak

 

An hour out of the campsite, 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 10,800ft at the tree line but climb again to 11,000ft. For about 6 kms you never really lose altitude and you are forever around the 10,800ft 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 kms sees you dropping more than 3000ft. It is not rare to spot lot of people trekking up here from Naranag headed only to Gangabal.

 

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Pine trails at the trek

 

Naranag slowly comes in sight at around 8500ft 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 Narnag.

Drive to Srinagar and reach by 6.30 pm. Stay overnight at Srinagar.

Trek Reviews

Ashish Bhatt from September 2013 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

It was 8 days of total awesomeness in wilderness, Totally cutoff from the world with jus the trek group helping and pushing each other every day to cross the mighty passes and valleys and in turn getting to see some splendid and mind-blowing views of lakes , high passes and valleys along with beautiful Kashmiri villages and people. The trek had every damn thing high passes, beautifull views of lakes from top of the passes, Great lakes, valleys, Rainbow when it stopped raining and sun gave a peekaboo, snowfall , walking on rocky terrain whch would test anybodys skill, long long walks , windy cold evenings and nights. Words cannot describe what I saw and felt. Thanks to Indiahikes who organised it so well. special thanks to them as Igot to see what Ihad only dreamt off, thanks for that. Beautifull and truly incredible india.it only needs to be explored on foot . The last day descent is hard on knee otherwise its all pleasant.

Sushila Rajgopal from September 2013 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

A lot has been said about Kashmir being Paradise on Earth. About this trek being the most beautiful one of all. True, but let me give you some ground realities. The trek is tough, but not too tough. It requires mental strength to walk 10 km a day in a desolate and seemingly endless landscape where not a soul other than your team exists. The ascents are not technically difficult but are steep, long and can test your endurance.

Read more...

Gagan Gaba from September 2013 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

It’s been a month since I have returned back from my mini Switzerland Trip.. Yes it is ..!Kashmir great lakes trek

I just can’t stop myself telling stories of my trek to friends, family and colleagues.. It is rightly said that Travelling leaves you speechless and turns you into a story teller..

Read more...

Babita from September 2013 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

Kashmir great lakes trek

Truly speaking, it was a life time experience for many of us. The mere 30 people became a part of the journey we will fondly and proudly remember for our life time. We had great times, made friends, had lots of wow moments. We are yet to come out of those moments.

Read more...

Moumita Adhikary from August 2013 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch shares a poem:

Walk alone walk along...

Turbulance or calm

Walk alone, walk along,

Too many curves

Earth and water

Some floating clouds

And wide open clear blue sky

Walk alone, walk along.

  Read more...

Sarath Champati from September 2012 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

I have been very quite after I returned from the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek...I was wondering why...then I realised that maybe I am just like an ancient Sage who just returned from high Himalayas after months of meditation and extended reflection?! Did I achieve that 'inner peace',I wonder? You just went there for a week, you idiot, an inner voice taunted me! But why am I feeling such intensity,I retorted...I am still having this internal debate....

Read more...

Raghu Mittal from July 2012 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

Kashmir-trek-review-Raghu

After hearing a lot about Kashmir great lakes and the beauty of Kashmir, it was swfinite that I was going to do this trek. Sonmarg was easily the most beautiful base camp I have ever seen with snow covered peaks clearly visible.

Read more...

Shruthi Sabarwal from June 2012 Kashmir Great Lakes trek batch writes:

The Great Lakes Trek was my first ever trekking experience. And what an experience it was. While the pictures I had seen on the website made me believe it would be a nice walk in the meadows,it wasn’t, and thank God for that! My time spent on the trek is probably been one of the most fulfillingand personally enriching. This comes from the fact that on a trek like the one I did, you are learning somuch about yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally.   
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Great Lakes ...A walk through Paradise: Priyanka who did the trek in September 2013 blogs...

 

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The first sight as my plane descended was the expanse of green, with a few pine trees and Kashmiri houses popping up here and there. Then came the peaks -clad in snow, partially blocked by clouds, towering above the Kashmir Valley.

Read more here...

 

Great Lakes ...The first trek of my life: Dhanashree who did the trek in July 2013 blogs...

The first sight as my plane descended was the expanse of green, with a few pine trees and Kashmiri houses popping up here and there. Then came the peaks -clad in snow, partially blocked by clouds, towering above the Kashmir Valley.

My first thought was, "Wow, I have to trek in these mountains!!" I felt excitement, dread, hope, and most of all a strong will to do it, no matter what.

Read more here...

 

My Ramblings ...The Kashmir great lakes trek : Arun R who did the trek in July 2013 blogs...

 

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Why do people trek? As I signed up for my first ever bone-breaking, sweat-inducing trek; I asked myself this question. I hoped the trek would give me an answer.

Read more here...

 

Trek to remember ...Kashmir great lakes trek :  Varuna Raina who did the trek in July 2013 blogs...

Varuna raina

Kashmir has been integral part of my being. In every mountain, in every valley, my soul resides. I had to leave Kashmir due to militancy in 1990 and I was a little child and went into oblivion and put a lid on all that my heart desired. Stories were only thing which were told and through stories I lived elusive dream not quite sure if I could redeem them one day. Read more here...

 

Kashmir Calling : Vaibhav Chauhan blogs on the great alpine lakes fever

vaibhav chauhan-kgl

Vaibhav Chauhan from Indiahikes reflects back on his experience of leading a team to the great Kashmir lakes trek in August of 2012 and how he rates it to be one of the best treks in the Indian Himalayas.

Kashmir has always been an enigma for me. In Kashmir there is as much hidden as revealed. It is said that the Valley has to be seen with the eyes of the soul. Those who venture here are startled by  its striking similarities to Switzerland and its alpine landscapes are the finest one can find in the Himalayas.

Read more... 

 

In the forest of the night- Kunal Sharma's blog on Great lakes trek in September 2012

 

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Things to get

 Things to Get

  1. Backpack (55 - 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame.Quechua Forclaz 60 is a good choice. Rain cover for trekking backpack is essential.
  2. Daypack (20-25 L) -- mandatory if you plan to offload your backpack to a porter. Not required if you plan to carry your backpack yourself.
  3. Trekking shoes – no sports shoes. You need traction on snow and sport shoes with their PVC soles are hardly the choice. Ensure the shoes are well broken in before the trek. Forclaz 500 and Woodland are good choices. A guide on how to choose a trekking shoe is here Note: You can buy Decathalon products from http://www.decathlon.in/
  4. Ladies with smaller feet size find it a problem to get a shoe. Forclaz 500 has special trekking shoes for women.
  5. 3 pair of track pants (at least one should be synthetic quick-dry kind). Or 3 pair of cotton pants with lots of pockets. Track pants are light and we highly endorse them. Plus when things get cold you can wear one over the other. ( What you wear and 2 extra track pants)
  6. 3 cotton tees with collar. No bright colours like reds and fluorescents. Stick with lighter tones. There are plenty of birds to be seen on the trek and you don’t want to scare them with your sense of dress. ( What you wear and 2 extra t shirts)
  7. Two full sleeve sweater. A fleece jacket would be an alternative.
  8. A full sleeve thick jacket.
  9. 4 pairs of undergarments.
  10. 1 pair of thermal inners.
  11. 4-5 pair of sports socks.
  12. Woolen monkey cap/balaclava that cover the ear. Special high altitude balaclava that also serves as neck warmers is available with Indiahikes. They cost Rs 130. To order mail us at support@indiahikes.in
  13. Light weight rain coat/poncho (mandatory).
  14. Woolen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof).
  15. Sun glasses – curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. Sunglasses prevent snow blindness. Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.
  16. Sun cap and/or head-scarf. Special hiking caps with sun flaps that protect from UV is available with Indiahikes. They cost Rs 220. To order mail us at support@indiahikes.in
  17. Trekking pole is mandatory. You can buy a trekking pole online from Rediff. Duralumin 4-step telescopic anti-shock trekking poles are available with Indiahikes at the cost of Rs 450. To order mail us at support@indiahikes.in
  18. People who wear spectacles, choose one of these:
    • Use contact lenses.
    • Photochromatic glasses, If either of the above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.
  19. Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).
  20. Chapstick or lip balm.
  21. Cold cream and sun screen lotion (SPF 40+). While sun screen help prevent sun burns, a better option is to stay covered. Special hiking caps with sun flaps are available with Indiahikes. They cost Rs 220. To order mail us at support@indiahikes.in
  22. 2 Water bottles (1 L each). Do not carry packaged water bottles like Bisleri, Aquafina and others.
  23. LED Torch with extra set of cells (head lamps preferable as they let your hands be free).
  24.  Personal toilet kit (minimal) and toilet paper.
  25. Carry a leak proof box to carry your packed lunch, a plate, spoon and coffee mug.
  26.  Personal medicine kit containing:
    • Crocin - 5 tablets
    • Avomine - 4 tablets
    • Avil 25mg - 4 tablets
    • Diamox - 15 tablets
    • Combiflam - 5 tablets
    • Disprin - 10 tablets
    • Norflox - 10 tablets
    • Crepe bandage - 3 to 5 meters
    • Band aid - 10 strips
    • Digene - 10 tablets
    • Gauze cloth - 1 small role
    • Leukoplast - 1 small roll
    • Cotton - 1 small roll
    • ORS - 5 packets
    • Betadine cream
    • Moov spray
  27. Camera, memory-cards, batteries etc (carry enough spare batteries. Electricity is not available on the slopes)
  28. Slippers/sandals (for walking around campsite).
  29. Some trekkers feel loss of energy more than others. While there is adequate food provided on the trek, carry a few energy bars (dry fruit pouches are better than 5 Star/Munch).
  30. While packing, use bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

NOTE

  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited on the entire trek - be it base camp, high camp or the last camp.
  • Smoking at camp sites or in the presence of any other team member is not allowed on the entire trek.
  • Leave your denims behind – these are ill suited for treks and add weight.
  • Snacks, colas and personal food – No need to overburden yourself with food.
  • Do not carry any disposable plastic bottles like (Bisleri, Aquafina), plastic wrapped/packaged items. Do not bring any non bio degradable material.
  • Don’t get any sleeping bags. We are going to carry high altitude sleeping bags with us. We would also be carrying Alpine tents, ice-axes, and other equipment required for such treks.
  • After packing, weigh your gear. It should be in the range of 8-9 kg – preferably on the lighter side. Anything heavier, you will need to iterate and remove what is not essential.
  • Carry light and what is essential. As an example, toothpaste should be bought in small size (that can last you 10 days). Do not plan for "if" situations. The list of things mentioned here are exactly what you need and nothing more.

And now some general advice about clothing…

To protect yourself from cold, dressing in layers is the mantra. Two T-shirts worn one over the other is warmer than a T-shirt that is thick. 3 T-shirts worn one over the other is as good as a full sweater. This is just a guideline. If you are prone to cold carry an extra sweater.

Along with the above list, please ensure you also carry the following documents

1. An identification card (like driving license, voters ID card etc), along with a photocopy. 2. A passport size photo. 3. A medical certificate specifying the following points (Download pdf here). 4. Disclaimer certificate (Download pdf here).. The documents are mandatory.Without them you will not be allowed to trek.

Trekking Gears available with Indiahikes

It is often difficult for trekkers to find special trekking gears in India. Indiahikes has imported a few trekking gears that is available. These have to be ordered over email with support@indiahikes.in. On confirmation of availability, payment has to be made online and the gears will need to be picked up from our office. If you are close to the batch starting date email to support@indiahikes.in and check if gears can be sent to the base camp of your trek 1. Special high altitude balaclava which works as neck warmers. Please don’t buy monkey cap or woolen cap if you buy this. Rs 130/- 2. Hiking cap with flaps (for face, neck and ears). These are meant specifically for hiking. Protects from UV. Rs 220/- 3. Trekking poles: Duralumin 4-step telescopic anti-shock with basket. Rs 450/-

 

Note: Please add Rs 70 for all items or any one item as registered parcel charges.  Trekkers can buy premium trekking gear from Adventure Point. Indiahikes trekkers get an additional 10% discount over and above any promotions that are running at Adventure Point website. Please email support@indiahikes.in for promo code.  

How to get there

The trek starts at Sonamarg. This is  a 3 to 4 hour drive from Srinagar.

On the Indiahikes organized treks, we depart from Srinagar at 2 pm and drive down to Sonamarg base camp to reach by 6 pm. Camping is in tents.

Fitness Required

Minimum Age: 14 years

Past experience in trekking: Useful, not essential.

Fitness required: 

You need to be in good physical condition before the start of the trek. You should be able to jog 4.5 kms in 30 minutes before commencement of the trekking expedition.
The trek covers 60 kms in 5 days. Every day has a 1500 ft ascent and an equal descent. Your physical fitness is important for a successful completion of the trek.

You must be able to jog 4.5 km in 30 minutes before commencement of the Kashmir Great lakes expedition. This makes your lungs strong and gives it ability to process less air for more work. It also helps the body to acclimatise better. Given below is a fitness chart that will help you to start from scratch if you have not been jogging at all. 

 

In addition you need to add some strength and flexibility training to your workout. 

 

Flexibility is the ability of muscles and tendons to relax and stretch easily.  It determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.  Stretching improves your posture and helps to prevent low back pain.  Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and low back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back.  

 

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 exercise links below will help you to be in good shape before the trek. 

For Flexibility training

For Strength training

How to get from 0 km to 5 km jogging in 30 mins in 9 weeks

Week 1 : Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 2: Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 3: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 350 meters (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 350 meters (or 3 minutes)

 

Week 4: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then:

  • Jog 400 meters (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 200 meters (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 800 meters(or 5 minutes)

 

Week 5: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then:

  • Jog 1/2 km (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)

 

Week 6: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then:

  • Jog 800 meters (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1.2 km (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 400 meters(or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 800 meters(or 5 minutes)

 

Week 7: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then jog 4 km (or 25 minutes).

Week 8: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then jog 4.5 km (or 28 minutes).

Week 9: Brisk five-minute warm up walk, then jog 5 km (or 30 minutes).

Videos from the trek

Here is a wonderful 12 minute video of the eight day trek in Kashmir Great Lakes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4apyHDJ1Ojg

Trek inclusions

The trek fee Rs 12450 includes all costs of the trek from the start of the trek at Sonamarg to the end at Narnag.
 

Specifically, the cost includes the following:

 

    • The trek fee
    • Vegetarian food as per menu on the trek
    • Forest camping charges
    • Trek permits
    • Tents
    • Sleeping bags
    • Safety equipment
    • Guides
    • Cooks
    • Helpers
    • Mule charges
    • Services of a trek leader

Please Note: Service Tax of 3.09% is payable on the trek fee.
 

Transportation: The cost of transport from Srinagar to Sonamarg and return from Narnag to Srinagar has to be borne by the participant. Indiahikes has arrangements with local transporters to pick up trekkers from Srinagar. The vehicles will leave Srinagar at 2.30 pm and reach Sonamarg by 5.30 pm.

 

The stay at Srinagar on the last day is not included in the trek fee. However we can assist you in booking a hotel or a houseboat for the same.

 

Most participants opt for the Indiahikes pick up – and we assume the same in your case. In case you do not want the Indiahikes pick up, please let us know at least 20 days in advance to the start of the trek. Intimation is by email only at info@indiahikes.in
 

Cancellation: If for some reason you wish to cancel your trek, an email intimation needs to be sent to support@indiahikes.in . Cancellation requests are not taken over phone. However, you can phone to check whether your cancellation has been processed.

The cancellation charges are as under:
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek -- full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek -- 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek -- no refund

Note: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a Trek Voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same or another trek in the next one year.  

 

Drop out during trek: If for some reason a participant has to drop out from the trek on any day then Indiahikes will make arrangements for his/her return to the nearest road head. A staff will accompany the participant to the nearest road head. On the Kashmir Great Lakes trek it is to Sutkari or Sonamarg. Sutkari is the base camp of the trek, 3 kms from Sonamarg. From Sonamarg you get vehicles to Srinagar. In case of dropping out of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek transportation and stay cost at any location has to be borne by the participant.

 

Backpack carrying: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks with personal belongings. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge of Rs 250 per backpack per day, not weighing more than 8kg.

 

Who can trek at 50% concession:

  1. Doctors: At Indiahikes, safety of a trek comes first. You will experience it first hand on the slope. Your team is accompanied by experienced trek leaders, safety gears, high end trek equipment, high altitude first aid kits and most importantly the right information. As an initiative in this regard we want to encourage doctor trekkers to function as team doctors. If you are a doctor on the trek and would like to function as the team doctor let us know immediately. As a gesture of recognition, you will receive an Indiahikes trek voucher for 50% of trek fee after the trek is completed. The trek voucher can be used for other Indiahikes treks. The only conditions are that (1) you need to have done one another high altitude trek before and (2) only one doctor is allowed to be a team doctor. Apply to sandhya@indiahikes.in

 

  1. Amateur photographers. At Indiahikes, we also believe a trek is a lot more than walking in the mountains. We would like to encourage skilled amateur photographers to share their skills of photography with other members of the trek. If you are a skilled amateur photographer and would like to conduct a photography workshop send us a link to your photographs. If you are selected, you will be allowed to conduct a workshop for a select bunch of interested trekkers on the trek. As a gesture of recognition, you will receive an Indiahikes trek voucher for 50% of trek fee after the trek is completed. The trek voucher can be used for other Indiahikes treks.  Apply to Sandhya: sandhya@indiahikes.in.Please read the risks and precautions associated with the Kashmir trek before registering. Click here