The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek transports you to a divine, never before seen side of Kashmir evocative of its nickname, Heaven on Earth. This is the only trek in the Himalayas that packs three high altitude passes, five river valley crossings sporting seven alpine lakes, each an astonishing shade of green, blue and turquoise, all within an impressive span of 8 days!
Every day you are confronted by opulence that is boundless, grandiose and achingly beautiful: endless blue skies; larger than life panorama of rugged mountains, flamboyant meadows teeming with wild flowers, river crossings, boulder hopping; the KGL trek leaves you spoiled for choice and how!
Climbing up to an altitude of 4,206 M, the trail switches between ascents and descents on most days making it relatively easy to navigate. The only challenge lies in building endurance needed to tackle the long distances (10 kms or more) one needs to cover each day.
The trek is 69 kms long and is an excellent choice for beginners looking to step up their trekking game in the Himalayas. We recommend this trail for experienced trekkers as well, not for the challenges but for the sheer beauty and extravagance it houses.
The best time to do the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is from July to September. Find elevation chart, temperature chart, a detailed itinerary, route map and photo of the KGL trek. Scroll to the end of the page to read blogs on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
Arrival at Sonamarg (2, 730 M)
Distance Covered: 81 kms from Srinagar to Sonamarg
Time taken: 3 hours to reach Srinagar
Sonamarg, which translates to Meadow of Gold, is the starting point of the KGL trek. If you have opted for transport with Bikat Adventures, please ensure you board the vehicle from Dal Gate No. 1 in Srinagar latest by 12 PM. If you are traveling on your own, try to reach Sonamarg by 3-4 PM.
Although you have to report at the base camp only by 3 P.M, we recommend you come here early to explore the region. Home to some renowned peaks and glaciers of the Kashmir National Park, one can spot the Sirbal Peak, Kolahoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak alongside the Machoi Glacier from here.
The drive from Srinagar to Sonamarg, although short, is a pleasant one to undertake. Once you are out of the city, there is barely any traffic and charming countryside vistas replace the cityscapes. About 30 kilometres into the drive, snow-capped mountains take over the horizon and sprawling, grassy meadows cover the lands on either side of the road as far as the eyes can see. The views enroute to Sonamarg are well worth a day trip from Srinagar!
The stay will be arranged in camps for the day. We will have a Team introduction after evening tea followed by an early dinner.
Sonamarg (2, 730 M) to Nichnai (3, 500 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance covered: 10 km from Sonamarg to Nichnai
Time taken: 6 hours to reach Nichnai
We begin our trek at 9 am today from Shitkadi. The trail is a fair mix of ascent and descent. The gradient is moderate and plenty of water sources will be available for refilling water bottles along the way.
We begin by following a vehicle track that heads out of the main road of Sonamarg. This track descends all the way down to the Sind River from where the trail head for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek begins.
The trekking trail from the trail head quickly ascends up. About ten minutes into the trek, the trail unanticipatedly enters a patch of rolling, green meadows overlooking the town of Sonamarg. This marks the end of civilization as we know it and the beginning of the beauty that is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek!
Take a couple of moments to soak in the view here. The waters of the Sindh river glistening in the early morning sunlight as she makes her way through this tiny town hugged snugly on either side by gorgeous mountains is a sight to behold.
This view only gets fuller and more resplendent as you ascend further up the trail. It takes 30 minutes to the reach the top of the meadow. Maple, pine and silver birch trees dot the landscape here. From here onwards, it is an undulating climb across vibrant meadows marked by clear brooks and streams all the way up to Nichnai, your campsite for the day!
Nichnai (3, 505 M) to Vishansar Lake (3, 658 M) via Nichnai Pass (4,150 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 11 kms from Nichnai to Vishansar Lake
Time taken: 6 hours to reach Vishansar Lake
We will be breaking camp early for the day and starting at 8 a.m. While the gradient is moderate, be prepared for long hours of walking. The scenery shifts winningly through the day ranging from a leisurely walk through expansive meadows, ambling along the banks of a river to a moderate ascent up the Nichnai pass followed by a sharp descent from the top of the pass.
We begin by walking along the river running through the Nichnai Campsite. On the way, look for feasible spots where you can cross the river. The Nichnai Pass is located at a distance on the other side of the river.
Once you reach the other side, continue walking along the river bank in the direction of the Pass (which can be spotted from the campsite itself). The trail ascends steadily for the next hour all the way to the top of the ridgeline that was visible from the meadow below. This ridgeline is not the Pass however. The actual pass begins after a couple of bends along the ridge.
The Nichnai Pass is a striking passageway set at 4, 150 M with snow clad mountains lining its left. There are no peaks on its right but the land rises there as well giving it the illusion of walking through a tunnel.
Once you reach the top of the Pass, it is a rapid and steep descent on rocky terrain to the meadows below. You will notice that colourful little flowers dot the grass here. A new river now flows from the Pass into this region. Multiple, narrow trails run into the horizon as far as the eyes can see.
Take one of these trails and continue walking ahead. Snow-clad mountains rise against the skyline on your left while your right hand side contains stretches of barren and rugged mountain faces. The sharp contrast in scenery only exaggerated further by the dewiness of the grass and flowers at your feet makes this one of loveliest meadow walk experiences on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.
Our campsite for the day is located two hours away beyond yet another river crossing and not far from an alpine lake with startlingly blue waters that is bound to have you hooked right from the moment you lay eyes on it. This is the all famous Vishansar Lake with its twin, Kishansar Lake, not far behind.
Rest / Acclimatization Day (Subjected to Weather Condition)
If the weather condition is bad, then we will take the rest day at Vishansar which can be used to explore the lakes & acclimatize.
If the weather is good then we will take the rest day at Gangabal Campsite only where you can explore the twins lakes
Vishansar Lake (3, 58 M) to Gadsar Lake (3, 810 M) via Gadsar Pass (4, 206 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance covered: 10 kms from Vishansar Lake to Gadsar Lake
Time taken: 6 hours to reach Gadsar Lake
Today’s trek is a steep two hour ascent followed by a steep two hour descent and then a gentle walk through the meadows. There will be ample water sources along the way to refill your water bottles.
Our trail begins with climbing a pencil thin ridge running along the mountain side near Kishansar lake. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the top of this ridge. About midway through your ascent, the mountains unfurl an arresting view of the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes together!
This view lasts until you reach the top of the ridge. What follows is an hour of steep descent after which the trail opens up into a bright valley with mountain ranges guarding it on either side.
The meadows of this valley are by far one of the most colorful you will be encountering on the trek, thanks to the bright red, yellow, purple and blue flowers popping out of the green grass. It makes you want to flop down and sneak in a nap after the steep climb up the pass. The Gadsar Lake lies beyond this meadow.
With piercing blue waters, the Gadsar lake is the most pristine of the seven alpine lakes primarily because it is the least visited. Quite a few make weekend trips from Sonamarg to Vishansar and Kishansar, more so make the trip on the other side of the trail; from Naranag to Gangabal. Gadsar, however remains untouched because of its location at the highest point of the trek which makes its accessibility tough.
Our campsite is one and a half hours away from the Gadsar lake, close to an Indian Army camp where all of our original ID cards will be collected, checked and recorded.
Gadsar Lake (3, 810 M) to Satsar Lake (3, 658 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 12 kms from Gadsar Lake to Satsar Lake
Time taken: 6 hours to reach Satsar Lake
The gradient for the day is mostly moderate barring the first one and half hours of steep ascent. Post that, it is a level walk all the way up to the next campsite.
The landscape on today’s trail stands in sharp contrast to the river valleys we have been trekking through till now. The terrain is rugged, desolate and captivating in its isolation. Meadows are scant and are marked by scattered patches of white flowers. Boulders and rocky terrain dominate the landscape with an occasional brook cutting through them.
We will be crossing an army camp today as well where our original ID cards will be collected, checked and recorded before letting us cross. Rolling grasslands once again take over the terrain beyond the army camp. Ten minutes away lay the first of the Satsar Lakes. Satsar is actually a group of seven inter-connected lakes situated in a narrow alpine valley stretching north to south. The lakes drain out into the Wangath Nallah which is a tributary of the Sindh.
Big and picturesque in its greenery and backdrop of the mountains, we will be setting up camp here for the day.
Satsar Lake (3, 658 M) to Gangabal Lake (3, 505 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 13 kms
Time taken: 7 hours
We begin by taking the trail heading out of the Satsar Campsite. This section of the trail is exciting primarily because it is dominated by boulders. Most trekkers, we have noticed, are comfortable getting down on all fours when hopping from one boulder to the next. As fun as it may seem, do watch out for loose rocks that can make you lose your balance.
Beyond these boulders lie the largest and the last of the Satsar Lakes. After this, the trail descends for a good half an hour until we are confronted by ridge lines running across the mountains. It is time to gain altitude again. Be prepared for a steep ascent for the next three and a half hours. The terrain, you will notice, turns distinctly rocky and barren the farther we climb from the base.
Perhaps, it is to make up for the starkness of the landscape that KGL treats you with one of the most theatrical views of the trek right on top of this ridge- a vertigo inducing scene of the Gangabal and Nandakol lakes nestled snugly in the valley. Mist and fog playfully flit in and out of the scene hiding and revealing the twin lakes impelling you to take a break to watch the spectacle unfolding in front of you.
We will be setting up camp on the banks of the Gangabal lake. As is evident from the Pass, it is a very long descent from the top of the ridge to the campsite.
Unlike the other campsites, you will notice more trekkers and tents here. Gangabal and Nandakol are famous for trout fishing in the region. The Nandakol lake is bewitching in its setting. A jagged glacier clinging to slopes of the Harmukh Peak feeds the lake at its base. The play of light and clouds on the glacier are fascinating to watch!
Once you set up camp at Nandakol, take some time out to explore the Gangabal lake.
It is a short walk and a river crossing away from the campsite. The Gangabal lake, you will notice, is far less crowded than Nandakol and more tranquil in its setting. The water is clear near the banks revealing colourful pebbles on the waterbed. A mountain sits right on top of it. Remnants of a glacier clinging to its base feed this lake. It is a long and pleasant walk along its banks.
Once you are done exploring, ensure you return to your campsites before it gets dark.
Gangabal Lake (3, 505 M) to Naranag (2, 271 M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 11 kms from Gangabal Lake to Naranag
Time taken: 6 hours to reach Naranag
Watch your toes and knees on the trail today because, as you have guessed it, we will be descending to the Naranag road head which is where our trek comes to an end. The distance is long and the trail gets steep at the end.
From the Gangabal campsite walk along the ridgeline that runs downstream towards the trees. It takes about an hour to reach the treeline. Continue walking along its fringe. For the first 7 kms or so, you don’t really lose altitude. There are gentle ascents followed by flat walks on lush grassy meadows.
You also begin to notice the beginning of civilization on the way. A hut or two dot the landscape and makes you wonder what it would be like to live there. Once you cross the 7km mark, the trail begins descending sharply. The track is mostly muddy and runs under a cover of pine trees. One or two kilometres into the descent, Naranag appears in sight but it is still a long way to go.
Expect to reach Naranag by afternoon. Our vehicles to Srinagar will be waiting there. We should be in Srinagar by half past 6 in the evening. If you are planning to travel out of Srinagar the same day, ensure you book your transport that leaves the city post 9 to account for any delays on the way.
Kashmir Great Lakes is a moderate level trek i.e. it requires more strength and endurance than easy level treks. It is recommended that you first gain experience of trekking to altitudes higher than 3000 meters, and then move one level up with this trek. However, if you are a beginner but committed to preparing, then you need at least 2-3 months to prepare physically & mentally for this trek. For details on trek difficulty level, please read on Bikat Rating Scale.
You must have done a small trek of 2-3 days before and hiked to an altitude of more than 3000 meters.
Click here for packing list.
The best time to do Kashmir Great Lakes trek is June to August.
The base of Kashmir Great Lakes trek is Sonamarg. Sonamarg is 80 km away from Srinagar and can be reached by taxi or bus. Similarly, on the way back, Naranag is around 55 Kms from Srinagar and one can easily get a taxi from Naranag to Srinagar.To get to Srinagar -
By Air: There are multiple flights daily directly from Delhi to Srinagar, or connecting flights from all major cities. This is the easiest way to reach Srinagar.
By Rail: Although Srinagar has a railway station, it is not linked to the Indian Railway network. The closest national railway station is Jammu Tawi, from where Srinagar is 270 km away. There are multiple trains from Delhi and Chandigarh to Jammu Tawi. From Jammu, you can make the road journey to Srinagar either via private or state run buses or private taxi.
By Road: The road distance from Delhi to Srinagar is 800 km if you are taking a taxi or driving down in a private vehicle. Direct buses to Srinagar are available from Jammu.
All major networks have coverage in Sonamarg and Naranag. However, all outstation prepaid connections do not work in J&K. You will need either a postpaid connection or a local prepaid connection.
Dal Lake: The jewel of Srinagar, the Dal lake is synonymous to a visit to Srinagar and almost a visual definition to the town. Spread over a straggling 26 sq.kms, it is the most photogenic stretch of this instance of paradise on earth and undoubtedly also the most sought after of attractions.
Mughal Gardens: Built in the Mughal era, donning its majestic architecture, are the Mughal gardens. The garden is a combination of the Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Gardens & Chashm-e-Shahi. The most prominent feature of the gardens its long stretches of cascading fountains makes this a must see for every traveler.
Nishant Bagh: Laid out in 1633, the Nishant Bagh fondly known as the Garden of Joy. Its beauty is enhanced by the well-manicured landscapes, long avenues of Chinar & cypress trees, rare flowering plants, 12 terraces & several bubbling fountains that's cover the whole expanse of the garden.
Shankaracharya Temple: Visit this effulgent, age old temple in Srinagar to feel closer to the gods. Situated at a height of about 1100 feet on the south-east of the city, this sacred temple offers splendid views of the valley and the snow clad mountains of the Pir Panjal range.
Hazratbal: Hazratbal Mosque, situated on the western shore of the pristine Dal Lake, is a very sacred Muslim shrine in Hazratbal. Hazratbal's special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a heir of the prophet Muhammad, a relic, titled Moi-e-Muqqadas. The relic is only displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by colourful fairs afterwards. The shrine commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond, especially when its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied with their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried) and Medical Certificate (Soft Copy to be sent to us & original to be carried) are the mandatory documents required for the trek.
We will be camping during the entire course of the trail.
We provide 4 seasons tents by Gipfel for higher altitudes which can easily withstand heavy snowfall and storms. They are spacious enough to accomodate 3 people at once with a vestibule to place the backpacks. Our sleeping bags are made up of Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation that can provide you comfort in -10 degrees celsius. We also use additional fleece liners to have thermal efficiency even in the extreme temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius. If you carry your own sleeping bag, you will get a cashback reward provided that you inform us as soon as you have booked your trek.
Toilet tents will be provided to you on the trek.These are portable toilets tents where a deep pit will be dug. A shovel will be provided inside the tent to cover the waste after you have made your business. You can take a toilet roll inside. Make sure you dig used toilet paper along with the waste. Though water is recommended in place of toilet paper. Please refrain from using wet wipes as they are non-biodegradable. There will be no facility for bathing on the trek. Go through our blog section for tips on how to maintain personal hygiene on treks.
The temperatures range from 20 degree to -3 degree celcius.
A team of participant will be led by a course certified trek leader and a local guide. All participants are requested to abide by what their leader says. There will also be a team of kitchen staff and porters on the trek. We maintain 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have a certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
We can arrange reserve taxis on request from Srinagar to Sonamarg and back from Naranag to Srinagar. Use the "Additional Transport" add-on to book the transport with us. The vehicles will leave Srinagar at 1200 Hrs and reach Sonamarg by 1500 Hrs. On the way back, the vehicle will start from Naranag at around 1500 Hrs and reach Srinagar by 1800 Hrs.
The trek ends in Naranag by around 1500 hrs and one can reach Srinagar by 1800 Hrs. We advise you to keep at least a 3-4 hrs buffer for both timings.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axe.
Vegetarian food will be served throughout the trek. The only non-vegetarian item served on our treks are eggs. Our kitchen staff follows a proper menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which has been designed in order to fulfil the nutritional requirements of the participants. There will be milk, poha, eggs, muesli/corn flakes, bread and butter served for breakfast. Rice or simple roti sabzi will be packed for lunch. In dinner, you will have dal, egg curry or any other vegetarian dish along with rice, roti, and a dessert item. Packed lunch will be provided to you on the days you are trekking. You are requested to carry your own tiffin box and a mug to consume food. The meals consumed on journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
You can rent following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack.
There might be snow on the higher reaches depending on the season.
If you want to offload your rucksack, you will have to make a request for offloading a few days prior the trek through an email so that arrangement can be made in advance. You will be charged per day for offloading your rucksack. In case you decide to offload on the spot, you may have to pay a higher price than usual. However offloading your rucksack is not recommended since it is not a safe practice.
Yes, trekking pole is necessary. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent it from us on minimal daily basis charges. You can request the renting link from us.
You can buy your essentials in Srinagar. However, do not leave anything for last minute purchases.
Yes, it is absolutely safe for solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing tent with each other. In case you are the only woman on the trek, you will be given a separate tent.
Yes, e-certificates will be given at the end of each trek provided that you completed it. It will bear your name, the trek, and the maximum altitude you achieved on the trek.
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure