Kashmir, a word that evokes a thousand emotions of love, grandeur, exotic and in the words of Firdaus, heaven. Some say it is a paradise on earth, others say it is a paradise by itself, but indeed Kashmir outstand all the stunning places on earth. Pristine and untouched, the lakes over here be it Dal Lake, Vishansar Lake or Gangabal Twin lakes are surreal and a rare sight.On this trek we explore the most pristine of combination of alpine lakes, far-reaching meadows, high altitude passes and the vast unexplored vistas of Kashmir Himalayas. Best time to vist Kashmir Great Lakes is from July to September.
|2||Maximum Altitude||13700 Feet at Gadsar Pass|
|3||Type of trail||Through Meadows & Passes|
|4||Nearest Airport||Shrinagar (J&K)|
|6||What is included in the fee|| Vegetrain Food.Three Meals a day & evening snacks
Forest Permits/Camping Charges , if any
Tents, Sleeping bags, mats
Trek guide, cook, helpers.
Porters or mules for carrying common Supplies
Services of a Mountaineering Course Certified Trek Leader
|7||What is not included in the fee|| Road Transportation
Break Fast & Lunch on Reporting Day
Any kind of Insurance
Any expense of personal nature
Any expense not specified in the inclusion list.
Report in Sonamarg by 3 PM . We will have a Team Introduction after evening Tea. Early dinner & stay in camps.
First day's trek is a good combination of ascent & descent. For the initial 3 kms the trail is uphill, next 2 kms is a descent and finally there is an gradual ascent of 4 kms upto Nichnai. On the trail you will see beautiful meadows, dark forests with trees of Maple, Pine and Bhoj . Reach Nichnai by afternoon. Camp in Nichnai.
Break camps early & start trek by 8 AM as today its a long walk through meadows . The scenery keeps changing all the ways which is a treat for the senses . Once you cross the Nichnai pass or Vishnusar you have reached your destination for the day. Camp here for the night.
The day is easy one. There are two lakes nearby Vishnusar & Kishansar . Today is for the exploration of these lakes. The lakes are famous for trout fishing but one has to get prior permission from Shrinagar for fishing here. Camp for the night at Vishnusar.
Trek upward to the top of the ridge from Kishansar lake. initially the trek is a steep ascent which is followed by a steep descent & a gentle walk through the meadows. Cross Gadsar pass. On the other side of the pass there are couple of small lakes & peaks outside the LOC can be seen from here. The beauty of flowers & Meadows enroute is something you should look forward to. You will reach Gadsar lake by early afternoon. All details of the visitors including original id cards are checked in the army camp which is nearby. Please keep original Id cards essentially with you. Camp for the night at Gadsar.
Start trek early towards Satsar . Id card will be checked again at Satsar army check post. A few minutes from the army camp is the first of the Satsar lakes.which is pretty big in size and amazingly beautiful. Camp here for the night.
Trek is easy & mostly descending. After a trek of few minutes from the campsite you reach the biggest of Satsar lakes. Today the trail is dominated by Boulders. Be careful of loose rocks while trekking. The view of Gangabal and Nandkol twin lakes from the top is something to look forward. Last few kms are through Meadows. Pass through Nandakol lake & reach our destination for the day; Gangabal lake. camp here for the night.
Like most treks the trail on the last day is a steep descent. Be careful while trekking as most injuries happen on descents. You will see the most beautiful pine forests today. The trail passes through a meadow with pretty yellow flowers . Finally we reach the road head of Naranag. The trek ends in Naranag. Board vehicle from here & reach Srinagar by evening . You will be dropped in Shrinagar approx by 6 PM.
Day 1 : Arriving in Sonamarg
Our Journey to the Kashmir Grate Lakes trek began with our arrival in Srinagar, the capital city of J&K. From airport I went straight to the Dal Lake where my friends were waiting for me, who arrived a day before me. We went to the TRC and took a cab to Sonmarg where we camped that night. The night was dark and cold with wind blowing throughout. The path from Srinagar to Sonamarg goes along mountains and forest, rivers and brooks. The roads are thrilling to ride on, with bends and corner. One can get the feel of Mother Nature in one of the world’s most beautiful and exotic place. The journey to Sonmarg took close to three hours as the road was free of snow, which can be major obstacle in this part of the world. Sonmarg is situated at an altitude of over 2000 m and is encircled with spectacular natural beauty, glaciers and lakes. At Sonmarg we were taught how to set a camp and other basic trek related activities. Setting up a tent is a time consuming effort, you have to find the right spot on which to pitch your tent and then pitch it perfectly for a nice sleep.
Day 2 : Sonamarg to Nichnai Pass Base
Next morning, we started from Sonmarg and upwards towards Nichnai Pass. We were a group of 12 people and all of us started with great enthusiasm but after sometime, most of them were struggling to cope up with the high altitude environment, it took some time and loads of water (as our guides instructed to drink) to come to terms with the High Alti. Once I was feeling comfortable, I could see the world around me. That’s one thing about trekking, till the time you are struggling to breathe, your focus is always internal. Its only when you start becoming comfortable, you focus outwards! Sound preachy? Well maybe..
The place was full of green meadows lined with pine and maple trees. The meadows, snow capped hills and waterfalls will leave you spellbound. The pain that comes at the beginning of any trek was alleviated by the soothing views of the jungle that surrounds at every step of the journey. The sight of lambs grazing on the meadow with clear blue sky above was mesmerizing. We kept walking for hours in a densely forested area of Silver birch. Since it was the beginning, so most of the trekkers were tired and the trek leader decided to call lunch at a stream nearby, which was a welcome break after hours of walk. The night appeared to be heaven with clusters of stars and the sound of stream flowing nearby. One can witness the sound of silence near the free flowing stream. At the end of the day we camped at the base of Nichnai Pass for the night.
Day 3: Nichnai Pass Base - Nichnai Pass - Vishansar
After a well deserved rest we woke up to a clear blue sky with scattered white clouds. We began our short but difficult climb up to Nichnai Pass which took us around three hours; The view was breathtaking from here with many peaks of the western Himalaya visible. We took some pictures here but due to high altitude, we did not stay for long and slowly descended into the flat meadows. The valley after the Nichnai pass was filled with beautiful wild flowers. It was a treat for the eyes with the variety of flowers to offer. This is the last point for mobile connectivity. One can also experience the gain of altitude as one moves along the Nichnai pass. The walk through plains is not difficult and was an easy trail for most of the trekkers. It serves as a good time to enjoy and absorb the vastness of nature by walking between the mountains. After walk through meadows and rocky patches, occasionally stopping by to fill our bottles with pure Himalayan water, we reached the camp site next to the deep blue Vishansar Lake. We had to cross the stream which was originated from Vishansar Lake. The lake Owing its name to Lord Vishnu is 1 km long. Vishansar Lake is fed by the glaciers around as well as nearby Kishansar Lake which freezes in winter. During summer season, the lake is surrounded by green meadows and becomes grazing ground for sheep and goat. After a short ascent we were walking next to Krishansar Lake. This lake is less than a Kilometre away from the other one. Surrounded by green meadows and snowy mountains; the clear blue water in the lake was picture perfect. The banks were wet and trekkers had to be watchful while trekking around. We camped at Vishnusar.
Day 4: Vishansar – Gadsar Pass - Gadsar
Next morning, we started another long walk through the same kind of scenic beauty. Today’s target was a beautiful green lake, called Gadsar . The lake is located 5000 m above sea level in the Himalayan range and is considered one of the highest altitude lakes in Kashmir region. While the ascent today was consistent and a bit tiring, we were all excited to reach the small mountain peaks giving us some breathtaking views. At one point, the trail became very narrow and lead to the top of the mountain from where both the Kishansar and Vishansar Lake can be seen together. Soon, we reached Gadsar pass that is also the highest point of this trek (13,700 ft). The trail was made easy by the presence of beautiful meadows with red and white iris flowers. After absorbing the beauty of Gadsar lake we reached a border camp of Indian Army. The Indian army welcomed everyone with glass of water .The army also verified our Identity cards and photographs as part of their protocol.
Day 5: Gadsar - Satsar
Next morning, we walked for hours across the mountains in a zig zag trail created by horses carrying the luggage for locals. We kept walking along the mountain, admiring the beauty which comes along the way. The sight of Nanga Parbat was also visible in the western Himalayas. The trekkers sat down on the green grass to see the elusive view of the mountain. Once we reached a certain height the trek became a little easier.
After some identity checks at the army post located near Satsar, we walked to the Satsar Lake. Satsar is a collection of seven lakes. Some of the lakes were visible while some others were not. The lakes were surrounded by arid mountain zone and one of the lakes, which was behind rocky boulders and mountains, created an almost perfect mirror. The view from here is mind blowing and provides you with colourful experience. The view of first lake can be seen with a minutes’ walk, the lake is huge and looks beautiful.
Day 6: Satsar - Gangabal
The path from Satsar to Gangbal goes up and down and can be very taxing for novice trekkers. The trails are rocky and very difficult to walk on. Our day began with a long walk along side some sort of a gorge, with monotonous mountains & full of rocks and boulders all around. The journey was turning out to be a boring one with same kind of scene everywhere, but as we kept walking we reached a point from where we could just get a sneaked peak of two beautiful lakes (Gangbal, Nundkol). Everyone was mesmerized by the classic view of this beautiful lake. The journey down the descent was also very challenging as the trail was full of rocks and stones, making life difficult even for the expert trekkers. Along the descent, one will also encounter greenery and stream providing much needed break from barren land.
Day 7: Gangbal – Narang
The journey from Gangbal to Narang was headed down along the ridges and stream. The trek was coming to an end and I could look back and see the mountains, meadows, flowers, stream that I had crossed till now. At this point I could realise what Kashmir Great Lakes trek had to offer in terms of experience. Enroute Narang, you will come across typical dense forest with sight of human civilization coming to greet you for completing one of the most full filling treks of Kashmir valley. You will start to see houses and people going on with their life and some sign of mobile connectivity. After a continuous descent of few kilometres inside dense forest, you will see the village Narang that is also the end point of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek.
The Kashmir Great lakes trek to me is a decently challenging one where you can come across high altitude lakes, beautiful mountains, peaks, alpine meadows with beautiful red white and yellow flower bed. This trek will provide you with views which can equal the location used in the HBO TV series Game of Thrones and Lord of the Ring Trilogy. One can imagine oneself being in the winter fall among the snowy mountains. Net Net it fully justifies the heavenly claims of the Kashmir valley!
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