Sheer heaven on earth is the phrase that will come to your mind while undertaking the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, for the state is a land of divine beauty. When the starting point of your excursion is a bewitching place like Sonamarg, you know that you are in for a world of excitement. As you walk along the trails, you get to witness almost the entire range of ecological zones in the Himalayas. When you start the hike, you are amidst thick temperate forests of pine. You then gain altitude and enter jungles of morinda spruces, pindrow firs, and deodar trees, which disappear as you reach altitudes of over 11000 feet. Here you are greeted by expansive meadows of lush grass and shrubs, and they are easy to trek through due to their comparatively flatter terrain. From these grasslands, you will be able to see crystal-clear lakes and snow-covered mountain peaks in the distance.
Post beginning from Sonamarg, this spellbinding Kashmir trek will first get you to Nichnai. The journey takes you along hissing streams, numerous enchanting valleys, and forests of maple. You will relish lunch at a high viewpoint called Shekdur and then travel through rough, rocky terrain; and on wide, gentle valleys to reach Nichnai. The place gives an amazing view of three mountain peaks, all buried underneath mounds of snow. At dawn, you cross a pretty brook, ascend through picturesque Himalayan meadows and go past a scenic alpine lake before reaching the Nichnai Pass. The way to Vishansar Lake from here goes through more grasslands, which are covered with flowers of iris. After resting and acclimatizing by the lake for a day, you resume your excursion and make for Gadsar.
This day your Kashmir trekking will take you first to Krishansar alpine lake, and then to Gadsar. The path again offers bewitching views of the surrounding mountains, and of the lush greenery covering their lower sections. From Gadsar, hike through more mountain grasslands, and reach Satsar lakes. As you start descending from here, you will once again find yourself in the middle of scenic coniferous forests. Then you reach Nundkhol Lake and later walk further to reach Gangabal Lake. Your journey will end in the picturesque village of Naranag, from where you will drive back to Srinagar. In Sonamarg and Naranag, you will be treated to a scrumptious Kashmiri dinner, which will give your naturally magnificent trek a rich cultural aspect.
Day 01: Arrival at Srinagar and drive to Sonamarg and night stay in camp
The trek starts from Srinagar to Sonamarg (7800ft) which is a 3-hour pleasant drive. The streams, snowy areas, pine trees, and the town nestled make a wonderful drive. The atmosphere all around will enthrall your journey. On reaching Sonamarg, you halt there for a night stay in a hotel/camp.
Day 02: Sonmarg – Shekdur – Nichnai
Starting from Sonamarg, you have to travel 10km further. Walking on a green bed of meadows amidst snow-clad high mountains, overflowing rivers, chirping of birds makes your journey bewitching. Your next destination for the day is Nichnai which is the river valley situated about 11500 ft high above sea level. In between Sonamarg and Nichnai comes the junction of Shakur. It is a very enthralling and beautiful place surrounded by greenery and you can click some good punches for capturing good moments. There you can take some rest in base camp and can enjoy your lunch between lovely meadows and Bhoj trees. You halt at Nichnai for an overnight stay in camp.
Day 03: Nichnai – Vishansar Lake
You will start the trek at 8 AM. You will pass through Nich- nai Pass which looks like a deep tunnel surrounded by big mountains from all sides. This pass is 13500 ft above sea level and you find the higher altitude touching the sky. As you climb higher up, the oxygen level in the air starts reducing which makes the climb more adventurous. Finally, you reach Vishansar Lake (12000ft) which is very famous for fishing. Stay overnight at a campsite.
Day 04: Vishansar Lake – Kishansar Lake and Gadsar Pass to Gadsar Lake
Your next destination is Kishansar Lake (12500 ft). It is just 1 km ahead of Vishansar. When the lake is tranquil, the manifestation is breathtaking. Kishansar Lake is very vast and it blinks like sapphire. Further trekking takes you to the highest Gadsar Pass (13750 ft). You can see different small types of lakes all around here which makes the trip very memorable. After crossing the small lakes you reach up to Gadsar Lake which is 12000 ft high above sea level. You have to take shelter in a camp for an overnight stay.
Day 05: Gadsar Lake to Satsar Lake
You start the trek in the morning for Satsar camp (12000 ft) which is almost 11 km away. For moving further you have to cross a stream. The climb is very adventurous. After crossing the stream, you will find a deep valley and snow-clad high mountains and meadows. On the right side is a small valley called Mengandob. The scenery is very alluring. As the name indicates, Satsar is a collection of seven lakes that are very colorful and attractive.
Day 06: Satsar to Gangabal Twin Lakes
Your next destination point is Gangabal. You move slowly around the edge of Satsar Lake. The trek is full of excitement and after about half an hour you will see the forest line to your left. You will reach up to 11,800ft high altitude and a zigzag way to reach up to ridges. The path is time-consuming and will take 2 hours to reach the ridge. We can see Gangabal Lake about 1450 feet below the point and stony rocks can also be seen everywhere. Then moving further and crossing all ridges you will reach Nundkol Lake. On reaching your destination, the Gangabal lake (11500 ft), you will feel refreshed and rejuvenated at the sight of it. You can pitch a tent along the banks of the lake and enjoy an overnight stay there.
Day 07: Gangabal to Naranag
Today is the last day of your trekking expedition. On your way downwards, you will come across large meadows and lush greenery islands When you look back, you can see Harmukh peak looking very striking. On crossing the terrains, you will reach Naranag (7450 ft). After a halt there, you will move towards Srinagar to conclude your trekking expedition.
Max Altitude: 13750 ft.
Approx Trekking Km: 63 km
Best Time to go: April to October
1. Accommodation in camps for seven nights on a triple sharing basis
2. All Meals - From Dinner on Day 1 to Lunch on Day 7
3. Qualified and experienced Guide/Support staff
4. Camping Equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, etc.
5. Trekking equipment such as Ice axe, rope etc.
6. Camping & trekking permits required for the expedition
1. GST - 5%
2. Transport of any kind
3. Porter/mule charges to carry your personal bags/ offloads.
4. Any meals/services not mentioned above
5. Any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances like landslides, roadblocks, bad weather, etc.
7. Alcohol, soft drinks, beverages, etc.
8. Personal expenses like tips, telephone calls, laundry, etc.
9. Any charges for video cameras, still cameras, etc.
We had the greatest of time ever on Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Kashmir is truly heaven on earth. The experience on mountains was simply beyond our imagined expectations. The beauty, serenity and love of nature was completely out-of-world feeling. Within 2 days, I had forgotten where I belonged, who I was or there is a world down below somewhere from where I come. By third or fourth day, I had lost track of time, date and day; which is such a wonderful experience - being kid again in the laps of nature and not bothering a bit about anything. We realize when we are on mountains that we live such an artificial and superficial life. One tends to wear off the artificial mask on mountains and one sees one's own true reflection. Communing with self, with nature. Regarding the services, I'd say they were perfect. I had never expected in my wildest dreams that I'd be served bed-tea every morning in my tent. The staff was very cooperative, kind and caring. Soon they had identified each of ours habits and choices and provided services accordingly. They also got along so well that we were almost a group. The team leader was very helpful in every little problem faced and guided us through well even during bad weather. It was always a pleasing experience to talk with him. The trek leader was a very charming person who had led the trek with much enthusiasm and made our trip simply memorable. Overall experience has been totally invigorating and we were left captivated and spellbound with the enchanting beauty of Mother Nature. Thanks for making the trip unforgettable.