A trek that needs 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: Getting to the base camp – Sonamarg

  • Time taken: 4 hours

Arrive at Srinagar and drive to Sonamarg. 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 to Nichnai via Shekdur

  • Altitude: 7,800 feet to 11,500 feet
  • Distance: 9 km
  • Time taken: 6 hours

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. It is total 3 hour ascent followed by 1 hour descent and finally a gentle 2 hour ascent to Nichnai.

A jeep track diverts to the right off the main road at the shop. The track goes down to the level of the Sindh river flows in between the mud track and the main road. The trekking trail starts along the track but quickly diverts higher up. 10 minutes into the trek, the trail bends left and enters a green meadow. The meadow directly overlooks the Sonamarg town.


In half an hour you are at the top of the meadow where Maple and Pine trees start.  At the tree line, the trail quickly descends to a tiny brook and then climbs again. What follows next  is a lovely dense forest of Maple trees. Walking on the green bed of grass amidst the Maples is an experience unique to Kashmir in India.

For the next hour and a half, the trail winds up through the Maple trees. Stick to the trail heading uphill as the 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.


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.

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.

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.

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 to Vishnusar lake 

  • Altitude: 11,500 feet to 13,500 feet 
  • Distance: 12 km
  • Time: 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. It is a medium climb to Nichnai pass 13,500ft, 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. 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.

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.

Anil reddy 2

Vishnusar lake. Photo credit: Anil Reddy

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.

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.
Manjunath-Bhat-2 (3)

Kishansar lake. Photo credit : Manjunath Bhat

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.

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.


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.

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

Day 5: Vishnusar to Gadsar via Kishansar lake and Gadsar Pass

  • Altitude: 12,000 feet to 13,750 feet
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time taken: 5 hours

The next part of the trek is from Kishansar lake side to the top of the ridge. You see a pencil thin line traversing through the mountain side. That is your track to follow. Always stick to the one going higher though any 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. The trek is a steep 2 hour ascent followed by a steep descent followed a gentle walk in the meadows. 

Shravanth 1

Photo credit: Shravanth

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.

Nidhi Sutaria 2

Photo credit: Nidhi Sutaria

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.

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.

Sonali 1

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.

Anurag Agrawal 1

Photo credit: Anurag Agrawal

Day 6: Gadsar to Satsar 

  • Altitude: 12,000 feet
  • Distance: 12 km
  • Time taken: 6 hours

After crossing the stream, take the trail that goes up the mountain. The trail now looks like a typical western ghat trail. The terrain feels very similar. You are just above the tree line. Trees and the river valley are visible below you. The hour and a half long climb takes you up by 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.

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 to Gangabal twin lakes

  • Altitude: 12,000 feet to 11, 500 feet
  • Distance: 9 km
  • Time taken: 6 hours

Mild ascent followed by gradual descent followed by long steep ascent and long steep descent followed by gradual up and down walk. 

The 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.

Manjunath-Bhat-1 (1)

Gangabal and Nandkol twin lakes. Photo credit: Manjunath-Bhat

A total two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. The altimeter reads about 13,400ft. 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.

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.

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 to Naranag 

  • Altitude: 11,500 feet to 7,450 feet
  • Distance: 11 km
  • Time taken: 6 hours

The days trek is a killer on your toes and knees, it is a gradual descent followed by steep descent. 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.


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.
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 ..! 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:

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

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:

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. Read more

Trekker Blogs

Priyanka Mitra, KGL trekkers from the September 2013 batch shares her experience..

Lush meadows, azure sky, limpid lakes, an autumnal aura encapsulated the whole landscape of lakes, mountains and passes that we crossed on our recent trek to Kashmir, Great Lakes. The trek receives its name from the numerous glacial lakes encountered enroute. We were told by our trek guide, there are around eighty lakes in that region, we saw just seven of them! Read full blog

Dhanashree who trekked with us in July 2013 writes...

Hi All! I am a first time blogger. I am not much of a writer but I have had one of the best experiences of my life which I want to share with you all. I have detailed it a bit, only because my aim is to take the reader through my journey and experience my experience of the 8 most awesome days of my life. Read full blog

Arun R blogs about his experience...

Your body aches. The calf and thigh muscles are struggling to cope with continuous ascent. The body screams. The mind ignores the screaming, cajoles and motivates it. “A little more and we’re there. You can do it. You’re the best there is; if you can’t, no one else can”. The body responds and you lumber on.

The breathlessness catches up with you. The weight of the backpack seems unbearable. The shoulders ache. The lungs are fatigued. The mind steps up again. “Let’s do this in phases”, it says. “Every fifty steps, you can rest”.

The power of the human brain at work!

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 full blog

Kunal Sharma shares his blog...

In the deepest recesses of every Indian is a desire to visit Kashmir, a desire that remains unfulfilled for most of us because of several notions and fears about the valley.

I managed to relive my childhood thrill and landed in Kashmir for an intensive trek. And what a time it was. Before the trek actually started, I roamed around Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam - all while being severely sick, cold, fever and perhaps reeling under the fact that the low atmospheric pressure was playing with my brain. Read full blog

Things to get

This is the mandatory list of things you will need to carry on your trek.


  • Backpack (40-60 litres): Backpack with sturdy straps and supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential. 
  • Daypack (20 litres): It is mandatory to carry a daypack if you choose to offload your backpack. If you decide to carry your backpack, day pack is not required.


  • Trekking shoes:  No sports shoes. The shoes need to have soles with good grip and better ankle support. Do not wear a new shoe to a trek. It might cause blisters. Before bringing them to trek, wear it for a week to make it softer. FORCLAZ 100, 500, and 600 are great shoes.  
  • Socks (3 pairs): 2 cotton pairs, 2 woolen pairs (mostly to be used on campsites and while sleeping. Keep them dry.)


  • Trek pants (3 pairs including the one you are wearing): We highly endorse synthetic quick-dry pants as they are light. Plus, when it's cold you can wear one over the other. While trekking a pair is what you would carry apart from the worn. You could keep the third pair for your return journey. Alternative : Cotton pant with many pockets / Track pants are comfortable too. Please do not get Denim jeans, shorts or 3 quarters to trek.
  • Collared t-shirts (3 pairs including the one you are wearing): Preferably light, full sleeve t-shirts. The collar and the sleeves prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Avoid loud colors that would distract birds and animals.

CLOTHES/ACCESSORIES (weather specific) 

  • Full sleeve woolens (2 pairs including the one you are wearing): We endorse fleece over wool as it is light weight, compact and warm.
  • Thick jacket: Carry 1 hollow full sleeve windproof jacket/down jacket 
  • Thermal inners: 1 pair of lightweight, upper and lower (optional)
  • Raincoat/poncho: A lightweight poncho is preferred as it covers your rucksack as well from top. Raincoat can also be used as wind proof when required. Enquire Indiahikes for availability of ponchos at the base camp.
  • Balaclava: The cap must cover your ears and neck. You may also use scarves.
  • Synthetic handgloves: Ensure that the gloves are waterproof.
  • Suncap: 1 pair of nice warm gloves required, fleece or woolen. 1 pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves. You get very thin inner gloves nowadays. You may get one of those to use layering.
  • Sunglasses: Curved ones will cover your eyes well. No blue coloured sunglass — they don’t block UV. Blacks, greens, browns are fine. Avoid multi tone sunglasses. Sunglasses prevent snow blindness. Sunglasses are mandatory for this trek.People who wear spectacles, choose one of these - contact lenses, photo chromatic glasses, or if either of the above is not possible, wear your spectacles and carry a big sunglass that can be worn over your spectacles.


  • Toiletries (Sunscreen - SPF 40+, moisturiser, light towel, lipbalm/chap stick, small soap, toilet paper, wet tissue)
  • Repair kit (needle & thread)
  • Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
  • Camera: Carry all accessories - spare batteries, charger, etc.
  • Cutlery: Carry a plate, spoon, coffee mug & a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. To save weight,  you may use your lunch box to have food in it and also carry it.
  • Water bottles: 2 bottles, 1 Litre each. Packaged drinking water bottles like Aquafina, Bisleri and others are not allowed.
  • Trekking pole: Trekking pole is mandatory. 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
  • Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
  • Diamox - 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  • Crocin – 6 tablets (cough, cold)
  • Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  • Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  • Brufin 400 - 5 tablets (high fever)
  • Combiflam – 4 tablets (body pain, headache, & tiredness)
  • Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
  • Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  • Digene - 10 tablets (acidity)
  • Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  • Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  • Gauze - 1 small roll
  • Band aid – 10 strips
  • Cotton – 1 small roll
  • ORS – 5 packets
  • Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  • Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
In addition, please carry the below three documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded(PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp. Without these documents you will not be allowed on the trek.
1. Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
2. Medical Certificate (to be filled by the trekker) - Download PDF
3. Medical certificate (to be filled by a doctor), and disclaimer - Download PDF
Note: These documents are mandatory

How to get there

Getting there

If you are trekking with Indiahikes

  • Its suggested to arrive at Srinagar a day prior to the trek as it helps in acclimatization.
  • Depart from Srinagar TRC  by 2 pm and drive to Sonamarg base camp (4 hrs).
  • This transport arrangement will be co-ordinated by Indiahikes.
  • If you are coming on your own to the campsite, you are expected to report to the campsite by 5PM.
  • The trek starts from Shit
  • kadi, it’s  4 kms before Sonmarg while coming from Srinagar. 

If you are trekking independently

  • The trek starts from Shitkadi, it’s  4 kms before Sonmarg while coming from Srinagar.
  • You are expected to report to the campsite by 5PM.

Some useful information

Reserved vehicles:

If you plan to travel on your own with a group size of 5 – 7 members, you may chose to reserve a vehicle. Vehicles like Travera, Innova, Travellers, Sumo, Scorpio are available on demand. The rates are as below:    

  • Jammu to Srinagar: Rs 5000 – Rs 6000

  • Jammu to Sitkadi: Rs. 7000 – Rs. 8000.

  • Srinagar to Shitkadi: Rs 1500 – Rs 2000.

Shared Vehicles:

From Jammu, shared vehicles are available from - Vikram Chowk, Railway Station

  • Jammu to Srinagar:  Rs. 700/- to Rs. 800/-  per head
From Srinagar, shared vehicles are available from Karanagar, to Kangan, to Sonamarg
  • Srinagar to Sonamarg:  Rs. 200/- to Rs. 250/- per head
  • Srinagar to Kangan: Rs. Rs. 120/- to Rs. 140/- per head
  • Kangan to Sonamarg: Rs. 80/- to Rs. 100/- per head

Fitness Required

Minimum Age: 

14 years

Past experience in trekking:

Useful but 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 kms in 30 minutes before commencement of the trekking expedition. The air is thin and the conditions difficult. You also need to carry a backpack that is heavy weight. Your physical fitness is important for a successful completion of the trek. Training yourself to get to a jogging distance of 4 km under 30 minutes makes your lungs strong and gives it ability to process less air for more work.

Flexibility Exercises:

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 exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. 

Going to Kashmir? Want to make sure you're fit enough to thoroughly enjoy the experience?

Here's a simple and highly effective fitness plan that will help you be better prepared.

fitnesschart (600 x 777)

Videos from the trek

Risks and precautions

Great lakes is a high altitude trek. Naturally, the risks associated with a high altitude trek are different from other treks.

Risk 1: Altitude and terrain

Our base camp Sonamarg is at 8,850 feet. This is already high altitude. You get there very quickly too. Most trekkers leave home in the morning and by evening they are at Sonamarg. The next camp Nichnai is at 11,500ft. It means by the time trekkers reach Nichnai, they very often start to display the symptoms of high altitude – mild headache, nausea, general uneasiness. These are signs of AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness. From here you have to cross the Nichnai pass at 13,500ft and camp at Vishnusar – 12,000ft.

The good part of this trek is that, if you are well acclimatised by the first 2 days, its highly unlikely that AMS will trouble you the later days. All the later camps are at the same altitude. During the day you always go to a high pass and get down to a lower camp.

At Indiahikes we believe a preventive step taken before you start the trek is better than risking a chance of dropping out of a trek because of altitude sickness.We recommend trekkers to start on a course of Acetazolamide (Diamox®) when they arrive at Delhi. We strongly recommend trekkers reading this article on Benefits of Diamox

We recommend that you go on a course of Diamox for the first 3 days. Check if you are allergic to sulpha drugs first. You can check with your doctor or do a simple test yourself. When at home, try taking half a tablet of diamox. If you don’t see any adverse affects or allergies, you are mostly fine. If you have any medical pre condition like diabetes or hypertension or anything else, check with your doctor about taking diamox. Start your course at Srinagar the day your trek batch starts. One 250 mg tablet in the morning and one in the night. Continue

this until you leave Vishnusar camp. If you are fine in Vishnusar, you can stop the Diamox course and continue the rest of the trek.

On a Himalayan trek like the Great lakes there is no alternative but to gain altitude rapidly the first two days. Even though we have designed the trek to ascend as slowly as possible there is considerably altitude gain on the first two days of the trek.

Risk 2: Weather

One common question in most people’s minds about the Great lakes trek is rain. The trek is open only in July/August/September – the monsoon months of our country

The good news is that, rain patterns in Kashmir are a little different from the rest of the country. March and April are the traditional rainy months of the valley.

However, on a high altitude trek the weather is not predictable. Even though the months of July to September are the best time to trek, a slight change in atmospheric pressure or a shift in the winds can bring rainfall in the mountains. Always carry a poncho for this trek. Very rarely does it rain so much to affect the trek itself, but if that happens and it looks unsafe to carry on, the trek may have to be aborted. A call on this is taken by our Trek Leaders and Guides leading the team.

The Great lakes trek has been designed to accommodate a rest day. This also serves as a buffer day in case of any weather delays.

Risk 3: Physical injuries

On a trek it is not uncommon to sprain a leg or accidentally meet with a fall — especially on the rocky or slippery snow sections. Sprains, cuts and bruises are less difficult to manage. Fractures and dislocations are rare but more difficult to tackle. The trekker needs to be immobilized and brought down to the base camp as soon as possible. Our trek leaders are trained to handle emergencies like these but they are not doctors.

The nearest medical aid is at Sonamarg but the trek which crosses 3 high passes and valleys has no easy exit options. Retracing the path may take anything from 24-48 hours to get a trekker to a hospital. As a participant on the trek you must be aware of these risks before starting on the trek.

Risk 4: Evacuation, emergency and communication

Evacuation of an affected trekker is not a quick process; it takes time. Sometimes the trekker has to be put on a stretcher. At other times he must be carried down with the help of porters. It requires a team of 4-6 porters to bring down a victim. The trails are narrow and sometimes steep. At times there is not enough room for the porters to stand while bringing down a victim. This makes any evacuation a slow process – slower than the usual trekking time. In an emergency when time is of the essence this can be deeply frustrating to the victim as well as those who are with him.

Emergency evacuation by helicopter is not a practical possibility. Helicopters need to fly from the nearest base at Srinagar or Jammu. This is time consuming. It could take 7-8 hours before a helicopter reaches you. Helicopters also need a flat area of 20X30 meters to land and a clear sky. Usually in the regions we trek, there is a cloud cover by 2-3 pm in the afternoon. Even in a life threatening situation the common rule applied is to move down and not wait for a helicopter to reach the victim. This rule is applied universally across the globe.

Communication on the trek is limited to the use of runners to send information. Use of satellite phones are banned in our country especially in Kashmir. Mobile phones do not work. Once on the trek you are cut off from the rest of the world until you complete the trek. The implication is that even in an emergency communication is difficult. In an emergency it takes time for help to reach you.

Please understand these risks before starting on a high altitude trek in the Himalayas.

How Indiahikes is prepared for an emergency

  1.  Every group is accompanied by a trek leader who is trained to handle emergencies. He knows how to administer first aid, address altitude related problems and issue emergency medications. A high altitude medical kit always accompanies the group on the trek. An evacuation team is ready in case a trekker has to be brought down to a safer camp. A stretcher also accompanies the team when they are on the trek.
  2. It is mandatory for all trekkers to get their oxygen saturation levels measured at all our trekking camps above 9,000 feet. Our trek leaders carry oxygen saturation meters. Anyone with a reading of 80% and below will be sent down for more oxygenation. A reading of 85% is worrying but not dangerous.
  3. It is also mandatory for all trekker to undergo blood pressure tests at all camps above 9,000 feet.
  4. Supplementary oxygen is mandatory at all high altitude camps and on all treks, including exploratory treks. Special oxygen cylinders have been imported from Britain. Oxygen capacity of these cylinders are 8 hours, enough to carry out a rescue. Earlier we would only stock oxygen canisters.
  5. Our trek leaders are trained to administer special steroids like Dexamethasone and Nifedippine (a drug that lowers hypertension). Our trek leaders have always been hesitant to use these drugs and we will continue this policy.
  6. We believe prevention is the best policy and we will continue towards that. Education and training of trekkers are as much important as training of our staff. We were already doing this but will be intensified further.

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

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: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. As team doctor, on successful completion of trek, you will receive a Indiahikes trek voucher for 50% of trek fee. The trek voucher can be used for other Indiahikes treks. The only conditions are (a) that you need to have done one other high altitude trek before (b) You need to be absolutely fit  and (c) only one doctor is allowed to be a team doctor. Apply to support@indiahikes.in


KGL Map (540 x 284)