A trek that radiates splendour, dreaminess, and sheer beauty, just at the mention of its name, is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Dubbed “Paradise on Earth”, the KGL trek nudges you to pinch yourself time and again for the exquisite landscapes it offers to the trekkers.
Located at an altitude of 4175 M, this trek is as challenging as is rewarding. In this article, we discuss the challenges of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek along with the preparation needed to complete the trek safely and enjoyably.
Difficulty level of the trek:
Kashmir Great Lakes is a level 4 trek on the Bikat Rating Scale.
About the BRS: The Bikat Rating Scale rates the difficulty level of all treks and expeditions in our portfolio after taking into account their geographical and climatic conditions.
According to this scale, if you are a beginner who is unsure of your fitness level and don’t know what to expect on a trek, a trek rated BRS 1 will be a good place to start.
If you liked your very first trekking experience and are looking to test your limits next, the treks rated 2 or 3 will do the job for you.
A beginner who is sure of their fitness level on the other hand is welcome to skip the first two levels and directly start with one of the treks rated 3.
From 4 onwards, the rules change a little. It is mandatory to have trekking experience of the previous level to participate in the next level.
The Trails of Kashmir Great Lakes
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is not only enchanting in its views but is also a straightforward one to navigate. The trail switches easily between ascents and descents throughout the trek. A typical day would have you ascending to a high point, like a Pass, and descending to a campsite on the other side of the mountain.
Since you are constantly exposing your body to higher altitudes but return to a lower altitude to sleep, acclimatisation is easier on the KGL trek when compared to its counterparts. The weather is simply lovely on the trek between July and September and rarely turns bad. The terrain mostly consists of sprawling meadows.
Although the KGL comes across as a pleasant amble along the meadows, appearances can be deceptive.
The long distances one needs to cover each day exaggerated by the ascents and descents as we move from one valley to the next can be heftily demanding on your lungs and feet!
Challenge 1: Really long walks every day of the trek (>10 km)
On the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, we will be covering 70 km in a span of 7 days. One thing that anyone can make out from these numbers is that each day, the trek challenges you with hours and hours of walking.
Through the 7 days of the trek, such is the twist of fate that you cross 7 different valleys connected through high passes. This is the sole reason for the trek gradient to be a blend of ascents and descents, many of which run steep in certain sections.
Although the trek is primarily made up of meadows and grasslands, covering a crossover pass almost every day requires good lung capacity and resilience.
If one is not well-prepared, especially on the physical fitness front, the trek can turn out to be quite the challenge.
Challenge 2: Boulder Hopping on Day 7
On the 7th day, we trek from Satsar Campsite to the Gangabal Lake. About 15-20 minutes into the trek, you enter a boulder section that might require you to get down on all fours to maintain balance.
For beginners who have never navigated boulders before, this section can be tricky until you get used to it. That said, once you gain a hang of navigating boulders, this stretch can turn out to be great fun!
Fitness Levels Required for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
As we mentioned earlier, the trails of the KGL trek and pictures you see on the internet can be deceptive in portraying the difficulty level.
While the terrain is not difficult to navigate, the trails do demand a certain level of fitness and stamina to handle the long hours of trekking along with the ascents and descents.
Being a moderate level trek, you will need good lung capacity and leg strength to finish the trek strongly. If you are struggling most of the time, you won’t be able to enjoy the trek. With the end goal being enjoying the trek thoroughly and not just completing it, the following is the fitness level we recommend.
Practice jogging/running three days a week and see if you can cover 5kms in 30-40 minutes. Jog 10kms once a week and see if you can cover it in 60 minutes. In addition to this, you can also add some resistance workouts for legs (like squats and lunges) and core into your training schedule.
Gear Required for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
While we will be providing most of the equipment needed for trekking (tents, sleeping bags, crampons, snow boots, etc), there is some basic gear you will need from your end to get through your hike comfortably.
These are a sturdy, lightweight backpack and comfortable trekking shoes. In case, you plan on purchasing them, please refer to the articles below for some helpful tips on how to go about choosing the right gear for your trek.
A branded backpack can be a hefty spend when it comes to trekking. But this needn’t be the case if you know what to look for when purchasing one.
One of our founders, Pankaj, purchased a non-branded pack for INR 1100 in 2010 and the pack continues to work just fine for him. In the article linked above, he shares some helpful tips on what to look for when choosing a trekking backpack.
Conventional sports shoes don’t suit trekking trails. We recommend wearing high ankle shoes with sturdy soles. These not only provide better support but also reduce the possibility of injuries while hiking. Please refer to the guide linked above for some useful tips on choosing trekking shoes.
Trekking poles are not mandatory but can help take the stress off of joints especially during descents and save energy. It is an accessory that helps the trekker with stability and rhythm on rough terrain.
The article linked above explains how to use trekking poles.
Skills required for Kashmir Great Lakes trek
Bikat Adventures is primarily an adventure learning organization. This means our key objective is not just to help trekkers complete their treks but also to ensure they pick up some valuable lessons and skills in trekking along the way.
To achieve this, we have created learning modules and paired them to different levels on the Bikat Rating Scale. These modules are taught real-time on the trails by our trek leaders.
On the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, our trek leaders guide and train the group on how to steer through steep ascents and descents during the trek.
While you will have all the assistance you need on the trek from our capable trek leaders and guides, we suggest browsing through the articles below to get an idea of the skills that are likely to come in handy on a trail like the Kashmir Great Lakes.
Although Kashmir Great Lakes is a beginners’ trek, the ascent and descents can be challenging. Maintaining the right rhythm and body posture can help avoid injuries and reduce the stress on your ankles and knees. The guide linked above shares some useful tips on how to ascend and descend down trails.
Since KGL is a circuit trek, every morning you are going to have to re-pack your backpack before hiking. The article linked above shares some useful guidelines you can follow to pack efficiently.
Layering appropriately to protect yourself from the cold is essential. The article linked above will give you a fair idea of the winter layers you will need and guide you on how to layer up at campsites while hiking.
We hope this article answers all the questions you may have about the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In case you need further assistance/information with something, please feel free to reach out to us. We are only a phone call away.