07 reasons why the Kashmir Great Lakes trek should be your next trek!
Kashmir, heaven on Earth is world-renowned for its surreal natural beauty, snowy peaks, majestic rivers and rich culture. According to folk tales, the word Kashmir means ‘desiccated land’ (Ka: water and Shimeera: desiccate). From the winter wonderland of Gulmarg to the beautiful meadows of Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Chandanwari, Aru and Betab valley there are many tourist attractions in Kashmir that offers a wide variety of activities and places for sightseeing. Kashmir is also home to some of the most beautiful lakes and rivers such as the Dal lake, Tulian lake, Chenab river, Jhelum river and more. Home to huge mountains and glaciers, Kashmir is indeed a perfect playground for adventure enthusiasts. Every year it attracts not just regular tourists but also trekkers, mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders. The perfect blend of nature, adventure and culture makes trekking in Kashmir a unique experience.
Among the many great trekking trails that Kashmir has to offer, Great Lakes trek is one of the most scenic. Situated in the Sonamarg region, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek (KGL Trek) is popular for its beautiful meadows, unparalleled views of Mt. Harmukh and more than 12 alpine lakes situated at the feet of different mountains. In this blog, we have listed 7 reasons why every trekker should have the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek on their bucket list.
1. Magical views of Sunrise from the Tabletop of Shekdur campsite.
The Shekdur campsite (also known as Tabletop) is the first destination on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. It is a huge meadow with flat grasslands and is surrounded by forest and mountains. The Sonamarg valley can be seen at a distance from this point. The sunrise from this place are truly magnificent. This place also has a shepherd’s hut where one can get Tea, Kahva and snacks like Maggie.
2. The ever-changing landscapes:
The trek starts from a small village called Sitkari near Sonamarg. The trail starts by going up and down dense forests crossing rivers and streams. As you move further up, you will be walking through endless meadows and landscapes with all shades of green and brown. You will also cross high altitude passes such as Nichnai Pass, Gadsar Pass and Zaj Pass where you may even find snow depending on the weather. Each day, you will be walking on trails alongside gorgeous alpine lakes. Some of the patches on the last few days trek also have huge boulder areas and rocky trails. As you reach the Naranag village; the trails become dusty and then it is a steep descent all the way down to the last point. On each day you will experience different colours of meadows, lakes and drastic changes in the landscape.
3. Kashmiri people and their warm hospitality.
During the 07 days of your journey in this beautiful place, you will be trekking and hiking in a land where life is simple and the air is thin. The Kashmir Great Lakes trek gives an opportunity to witness the lifestyle of people of Kashmir. You will see smiling faces all around and their simplicity will win your heart. You will often meet the locals on the trails as the trek connects the Sonamarg valley to the Naranag village. There are few shepherd’s huts on the trail as well where nomadic tribesmen of the Gujjar and Bakharwal stay with their cattle. These people are the most humble and sweet people you will ever meet. During my trek with Adventure Pulse last year, we had encountered bad weather and heavy rains on few occasions and were fortunate enough to find shelter in the shepherd’s hut where they offered us hot tea, kahva and some food. The experience of staying in a houseboat at the famous Dal lake after the trek was also an experience which allowed us to appreciate the warm hospitality of the locals.
4. Unique trekking experience and challenges on the trek.
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a unique experience for many reasons. The trekking route offers a unique diversity of landscapes and views of spectacular, snow-capped mountains such as Mt. Harmukh. The geography and changing weather make it unique from what trekking looks like in other parts of the Indian Himalayas. The untouched beauty of this remote place has its own charm which you can not find anywhere else in the Indian Himalayas.
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a moderate grade trek. The trek can be taken up by both amateurs and experienced trekkers. However, good physical fitness and prior preparation is must for this trek. There are many steep stretches and sections on the trek that will test your physical and mental strength. Even though the altitude gain is not as drastic as other treks, proper acclimatization is required. Also, one can expect very low temperatures during the night depending upon the weather conditions. The climb towards the Nichnai pass and Gadsar pass is physically demanding. There are always high chances of rain while crossing the pass so one has to be well prepared in case it rains. All these factors make it a challenging but rewarding high-altitude trek in some of the most beautiful and remote areas.
5. Beautiful campsites in the vast meadows and on the shore of lakes.
Each day you will be camping in gorgeous meadows on the shores of alpine lakes. Each campsite on the Great Lakes trek is beautiful, however personally, our camp near Krishnasar Lake was the prettiest of all. If the moonlight is weak you could see millions of stars during the night and could even spot the milky way. The views from the campsites during sunrise and sunset were absolutely magical. It is recommended to extend the itinerary by a day or two as a buffer day so that you could spend an additional day at one of the campsites and enjoy the raw and beautiful landscapes.
6. High altitude alpine lakes.
As the name suggests the Kashmir Great Lakes trek takes you through more than 12 alpine lakes where each lake is prettier than the other. One of the interesting things about these lakes is that some of the lakes are named after Hindu deities. Vishnusar lake (or Vishansar lake) is the first one on the trail followed by Krishnasar lake (or Kishansar lake), Gadsar lake, Satsar lake (group of seven lakes) and the twin lakes of Nandkol and Gangabal lake. With its enormous beauty and turquoise colour water, these lakes are a visual delight for trekkers. You will be spellbound by the views of the crystal-clear water and its surreal reflections of the surrounding hills.
7. It’s a photographer’s paradise.
The Kashmir Great Lakes trek rewards nature lovers and photographers with the opportunity to capture nature in its different moods. Colourful vast meadows, snow-capped mountain peaks, huge lakes magnificent sunrises and sunsets to magical starry nights; the trek will surprise you on each day. The meadows have all shades of green with colourful flowers everywhere. The mountains and hills seen on the trek have a unique blend of brown, green and black colours. The lakes shimmering with the reflection of the sunlight, white clouds, and blue skies create a beautiful contrast.
Comment your feedback or any questions you may have about the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. You can Contact Adventure Pulse to plan this trek for you.
You can read more about my trekking and travel experiences on my personal blog: Eat, Click, Travel.
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