ADVENTURE-PULSE
(The Adventure Management Consultants)

India
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Overview

The Kashmir Great Lakes as the name suggests treks through many high altitudes alpine lakes situated at the foothills of different snowy mountain peaks in Kashmir. The trails pass through streams, plenty of colourful meadows and cross three mountain passes. The trek from Sonamag to Naranag via Nichnai Pass is among the most beautiful trekking routes in the Himalayas. The trek has innumerable beautiful alpine lakes throughout its trails. The vistas will leave you with memories that would last a lifetime. Since it’s a moderate level trek, it can be taken up by amateur trekkers and fit first-timers. Arduous days, steep and rocky passes and altitudes approaching 4200m all make it a moderately challenging trek in one of the most beautiful and serene parts of Kashmir.

The trek begins from the town of Sonmarg and the easiest way to get there is to fly to Srinagar, where Adventure-Pulse representatives will meet you. From Srinagar, you’ll drive to Sonmarg and spend the night there. The trekking itself begins from Day 2, where you’ll reach the famous Tabletop and continue to our first campsite at Nichnai. From there it’s a 6-day trek through the most beautiful part of India. 

For some, The Great lakes Trek is hands down the most beautiful trek in India. While you’re on it, the meadows and vistas will draw comparison to Switzerland and the Banff, but we think it's even better. The various lakes you will cross are Krishnasar, Vishnusar, Gadsar, Nandkol and finally Gangabal. These large alpine lakes will change colour as the day progresses and it truly a spectacle to look out for. The trek takes you through different landscapes and you’ll be awestruck by the drastic way the landscape changes.

The 3 mountain passes on the trek

The three passes you’ll be crossing are The Nichnai Pass, The Gadsar Pass and the Zaj Pass. The climb to the passes is by far the most difficult part of the trek and is something you should take slowly. The Gadsar pass on Day 4 is where you’ll reach the high point of the trek at around 4,200 Metres.

Read more on the mountain passes of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.

What to expect?

The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a trek that involves 6 days of trekking. Over the days, you’ll cross 3 high altitude passes namely the Nichnai, Gadsar and Zaj. The hardest parts of the trek are the climb upto the passes which constitutes about 25-35% of the trek. Apart from the climbs, most of the terrain is flat with long gradual descents through green meadows.

You’ll be crossing majestic silver birch, pine and deodar forests as you journey to above the tree line on day one and back down on day seven. For most of the trek, you’ll be crossing meadows larger than any stretch of the imagination and surrounded by majestic snow-covered mountains. Their Glaciers melt and feed the lakes that you find on the trek.

On average, you can expect to walk for around 7-8 hours a day. We encourage people to walk slowly and at their own pace so that they can acclimatize properly. While on the trek you’ll be camping and we will provide comfortable tents, sleeping mats and sleeping bags. You can learn more about the staying arrangement and the different meals in the link below.

Everything You Need to Know About The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.

Quick Facts

Best Time : July, August and September

Duration : 10 Days

Max. Altitude : 4200 m

Commences At : Srinagar

Ends At : Srinagar

  • Arrival in Srinagar
  • Drive from Srinagar to Shitkari & trek to Table Top
  • Trek from Table top to Nichnai
  • Nichnai to Vishnusar Lake
  • Vishnusar to Gadsar (via Krishnasar Lake)
  • Gadsar to Satsar Lake
  • Satsar to Nundkol
  • Buffer Day
  • Trek down from Nundkol to Naranag
  • Fly our from Srinagar

Contact

Our team will organize group pick ups from the airport once you land and drive you to your hotel in Srinagar. Today you have the opportunity to catch on some rest as well as explore the beautiful city, experience Shikara rides, indulge into some Kashmiri delicacies and also go shopping.
We checkout from our hotel in Srinagar and the team drives together towards Gagangir to reach the start point of our trek which is a small village of Shitkari. Today is the very first day of your trekking journey and hence we will take it easy so as to enable your body to acclimatise better. We start our journey from the base of the village and make our way all the way up to Table Top. The journey to Table Top is merely 3 - 4hours depending on the pace of the group, but is majorly uphill. However, since this is a short day we recommend you to take it slow and enjoy the climb.
After spending the first night at our campsite at Table Top, we leave for our next bit towards the Nichnai campsite. The journey today is easier than Day 1 as it predominantly wont have much of a climb involved. You will be walking through a beautiful Birch forest in the first half. You will also enounter some small boulder pactches just before approching the Nichnai valley. Right there, just under the Nichnai Pass is where our campsite will be set up. Today's journey is also approximately 4 hours, depending on your pace,. We recommend you to take your time and enjoy the journey, in turn also allow your body to acclimatize, and prep for the next day.
Today you’ll cross your first pass of the trek the Nichnai Pass. As you exit the campsite, you will begin your climb to the Nichnai Pass. The trail is pretty much flat for the first 30 minutes as you make your way to the pass. After the first half an hour, you’ll have to cross a stream and make your way towards the right side of the valley. This is where the real climb begins. The climb is gradual with 3 steep sections. The climb to the pass should take around 2-3 hours. The top of the pass is marked with a rock that mentions the height of the pass. From the top, you’ll descend all the way back to the bottom of the valley and trek for another 2 hours to hit our campsite location. The campsite is located beside the stream fed by Vishnusar Lake. After a couple of hours of rest, we will start our 15-minute hike to Vishnusar Lake.
Today is the longest day of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. After discovering Vishansar Lake the previous day, we start the journey towards its sibling the Krishansar Lake which lies just over a ridge. The trek up to Krishnsar will take a comfortable 20 minutes. We take its eastern shore to ascend the second pass of the trek the Gadsar Pass (4050m). Gadsar Pass is clearly visible from Krishnsar and does seem a little intimidating. Our team will make sure you pace yourself well as you make the climb to the top. The trail is steep, narrow and should take close to 2 hours. Once, you reach the top, both lakes appear to be placed side by side. The twin lakes of Vishansar and Krishansar, "the source of the Neelam River". The trek to our campsite at Kustoor Kout will take 4 hours through mainly descending terrain. En route, you will cross the Gadsar Lake which is one the larger lakes on the trek.
We ascend, leaving Kostoor Kout leaving the Gadsar valley and enter the meadow of Rasbal. It's the Rasbal where a flowing river disappears underground. Also known as Doobtha Pani, the stream appears to pass through the mountain where it reappears at the bottom of the valley. A truly mesmerizing sight. We continue our trek through seven small lakes of Satsar and camp at Megandoab at the foothills of the third pass of Zaj for an overnight stay. The trek to the campsite will take a good 4 hours. If you’re lucky, you might see Nanga Parbat in the distance from the high point of the trek.
Today is when we cross the final pass of the trek. The trek to the Zaj Pass is tricky as the trail passes through rocky moraine. The rocky trail opens a couple of hundred metres before the final climb to the pass. The climb will take close to an hour. The pass is hidden behind a false summit which is something that you should remember. From the top of the pass, we can see Mount Haramukh (5300m) and at its feet lie the twin beautiful alpine lakes of Gangabal and Nundkol. Our final campiste will be placed on the banks of the Nundkol Lake. The descend is tricky as the trail is marked with loose rocks and scree. We will take a hike up to Gangabal lake after a couple of hours of rest. Like Vishnusar and Krishnsar, Gangabal and Nundkol are located side by side but at a difference of altitude.
If we have been lucky to not use our buffer day during the journey, we will have the opportunity to spend this day at the most beautiful campsite of - Nundkol. You can spend your day resting, having conversations with your fellow trekkers, soaking in the sun and embracing the stunning landscape around you, still feeling as though it is all a dream come true, a google wallpaper coming live in front of your eyes. You can also hike up to the Gangabal lake, which is, hands down one of prettiest lakes you will ever come across.
For some, the trek from Gangabal to Naranag is the hardest. The trek is largely downhill but after a couple of day of trekking, your body will be tired. The trail will hit the treeline in about an hour. It flows through the valley and crosses, deodar and pine forests on the way. The trek will take close to 5 hours, but it will feel like 10. At Naranag, you can visit the Naga Temple built in the 8th Century. After Naranag, we will drive back to civilization in Srinagar. The last night will be spent in a hotel in Srinagar.
After completing the trek the previous day, we all will be back to civilization, with hearts filled with gratitude and fond memories of the people and the mountains. We wake up to a delicious breakfast after a good sleep in the comfort of our hotel rooms. Our team will organize group drops to the airport for your departure. We bid goodbye to each other, with a promise to meet on yet another epic journey in the mountains soon!

Package Details

TRIP COST INCLUDES

  1. Transport: All ground transport in traveller/bus/4 by 4 vehicles from hotel to trek start point and back. Airport group transfers to and from Srinagar airport to hotel and back.
  2. Accommodation: 02 nights Srinagar stay in a standard Hotel/Guesthouse on twin sharing basis and 07 nights tented camps (02 person double fly dome tents on twin sharing basis).
  3. Meals: In Srinagar on bed and breakfast plan. During the Trek (All meals) Breakfast, Packed lunch, dinner, morning anf evening tea & coffee, drinking water.
  4. All camping gear included (tents, sleeping bags, mats, dining tents, toilet tents (pit loo as well as western style, kitchen tents, stools, etc. 
  5. Lead and assistant guides, cooking staff, campsite helpers. Horses for backpack off-loading upto 10 Kgs. 

TRIP COST EXCLUDES

  1. Airfare 
  2. Visa (For foreign nationals)
  3. Travel/Trek insurance.
  4. Personal clothing and equipment.
  5. Any medical costs incurred by you, or costs associated with a medical incident, such as your evacuation from the mountain and/ or hospitalization.
  6. Optional trips or excursions.
  7. Tips for local staff and guides.
  8. Lunch and dinner in Srinagar.
  9. Any extra transport needed for private pickups or drops. 
  10. Expenses in case of early arrivals or delayed departures for any reason. 
  11. Single supplement tents or hotels. 

1. What are the staying arrangements for this trek?

This trekking format is often referred to as an expedition format of trekking prevalent in the Indian Himalayas. The entire trek will be self-sufficient with a separate Kitchen Tent and Staff, Dining Tent, Toilet Tent and 3- Man, Dome shaped tents in which trekkers will be accommodated on a double occupancy. On the first night, trekkers will be staying in Sonmarg in a Guest House, and on completion of the trek, we will be arranging for a night in a House Boat on Dal Lake, in Srinagar.

2. What kind of Physical shape do I need to be to undertake this trek?

You need to be in good physical shape to trek especially to trek over the mountain pass. It’s a challenging trek and does demand good physical fitness and some bit of prior trekking experience. Please refer to our physical fitness document for more details on this topic.

3. What are the entry and exit points for this trek?

One needs to fly to Srinagar Airport for the Great lakes of Kashmir trek. There are regular flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. On your arrival at the airport, you will be picked up and driven directly to Sonmarg where an Adventure-Pulse representative will greet you. The next day, we make our way to the start point of the trek by car which is a short 30 minute drive. After the trek, we will arrange for transportation to Srinagar for a night on a House boat and the next day we transfer you back to Srinagar airport for your flight out.

4. Do I need any special equipment/climbing gear for this trek?

Any kind of climbing equipment or gears are not required for this trek. For list of other things and warm clothing to carry, please refer to our link - List of things to carry for the trek. You do need to make sure you have adequate warm clothes and very good Rain Gear as we do expect rainfall on this trail.

5. What is the communication system available on the way?

Regular phone and data services work in Srinagar. While on the trek, most days there is no network. One is disconnected on most days during the course of the trek.

6. What about high altitude acclimatization?

We at Adventure Pulse consider acclimatization as one of the most important aspects of trekking / climbing a mountain and spend enough time to do that. We move up the mountain slowly giving enough time to our bodies to acclimatize. Each day, we monitor each trekkers SPO2, Blood Oxygen Saturation, with a portable Oximeter, to ensure they are acclimatizing well. Our senior guide will keep monitoring the team on a daily basis to ensure that there are no problems along the way.

7. What are the food arrangements?

Meals will be as close to home cooked food as possible and is usually Vegetarian. Breakfasts will consist of bread, honey, jams, tea and Nescafe along with eggs, paranthas, etc. For lunch there will be a variety of local food , or a full packed lunch. Dinner will usually be a soup followed by lentils, vegetable curry. Our endeavour will be to try ensuring a daily variety in the food that we prepare so we keep the group's appetite up along with their morale.

8. Will I be able to take a shower or bath during the course of the climb?

Regular shower facilities will be available in the hotel, but while we are higher up on the trek, shower facility is not available for the trekking period.

9. What are the emergency medical precautions available for this trek?

The Adventure-Pulse staff and guides carry a fully equipped medical kit with necessary medicines and an Oxygen meter. As a standard practice, we check oxygen levels of all our clients twice a day and take necessary precautions if any irregularity is found in the oxygen reading. In case the problem persists, the client is sent down with a qualified guide. In case of an Injury where the trekker is not in a position to walk down, a Pony is organized to the closest road head where a vehicle and a doctor visit can be organized.

10. What happens in case of bad weather on the mountain?

Adventure-Pulse usually plans all it treks during the most favorable season on the mountain, but having said that, weather is always an unpredictable factor. We usually look at weather reports before leaving for the trek. In case the weather is unfavorable, we could delay it to the next day depending upon the Itinerary. A buffer day/s is always built in the itinerary as contingency if we get hit by unfavorable weather conditions. In the worse situation, we may have to turn back midway, but safety is always a priority which cannot be compromised on.

Extreme temperature variations, high altitude, snow glare & proximity to sun are certain factors which necessitate the need to for proper mountaineering and trekking equipment. In order to enjoy your experience in the mountains, we have recommended that you carry the following with you.

Apparels

  1. Trekking Boots / Shoes (preferably up to ankle length & water resistant)
  2. Multiple pairs of Cotton and woolen socks (at least 3-4 pairs of each)
  3. Track Pants for comfortable trekking, Denims to be avoided. (At least 2/3)
  4. Thermal inners and sweater/warm sweat shirt (1 each)
  5. Wind cheater jacket
  6. Cotton T-shirts (3 to 4 minimum)
  7. Rain gear. Either a rain coat and trousers or a rain poncho.
  8. Warm fleece jacket.
  9. 01 Peak Cap + at least 01 Woolen Cap
  10. 01 pair of warm gloves with windproof outer layer.
  11. 01 pair floaters.
  12. Warm down jacket at least ranging between -5 to -10 degrees. 

Accessories

  1. Air bag / Duffel bag (No Suitcases). Preferably water proof / water resistant.
  2. Day Back with rain proof cover. (25 to 35 ltrs)
  3. Drinking Water Bottle 1 Litre
  4. Lunchbox (compulsory) so that packed lunches can be provided by the team during the trek. 
  5. Trekking poles
  6. Torch + Batteries
  7. Camera + Batteries (if required)
  8. Knee / Ankle / Wrist Guards (if required)
  9. Nail Cutter / Pocket / Pen Knife
  10. Cold cream
  11. Hand sanitizer
  12. Chap-stick / Vaseline
  13. Personal toiletries (Tooth Paste / Toilet Paper / Wet Wipes or Baby Wipes etc.)
  14. Medical kit (With basic medicines for headache, upset Stomach, sour throat, water purification tablets/drops, band aids, painkillers & Moov/ Iodex , Vics Vaporub , D-Cold)
  15. Any personal medication (Individual specific)
  16. High energy snacks like Dry fruits, Bars of chocolate, Tang, Glucose etc.
  17. Good Quality Sun shades
  18. Sun block (SPF50+)
The trek to Great Lakes can be steep & strenuous at some places, even though it does not require that you have any previous mountaineering experience in Particular, It’s important that you be in good physical condition and be able to hike at a comfortable pace for 5-6 hours over hilly terrain with a light day pack. Good cardio-vascular conditioning and muscles that are used to hiking will make your trip much more enjoyable. Our goal is to trek at max. Altitude of 13,750 feet and walk through beautiful meadows and glaciers leading to pristine lakes of Kashmir. You will spend 6 - 7 days in a land where life is simple, trails are steep and the air is thin. We recommend the following schedule to the participants:
We recommend the following schedule to the participants
  1. Week One/Two: The participants should be develop the habit of being able to get up in the morning and run / brisk walk  for a minimum of 3-4 Km at least 4-5 days a week. This would represent at least 20-25 minutes of cardio exercise. Though difficult at first, keep at it. You can stop and take breaks as well.  During the day, you should get into the habit of avoiding elevators and taking the steps. You should be able to climb at least 4/5 flights of steps daily. (Avoid going down steps too fast as this could result in some knee injuries). If you Don’t enjoy running and are into some other sport like cycling or swimming, spend about 45 mins cycling or about 600 – 800 mts of swimming for at least 4 days a week.
  2. Week Three/Four: Assuming you have successfully survived week one and are consistent with your exercise, you can take up the pace a notch. Increase your distance to 5/6 kms per day and 5 times a week, you can additionally go to a gym. Avoid heavy weight training. Focus more on a core workout. These are your muscle groups that run along the length of your body and helps maintain your posture and sustains you during your long hours of working.
  3. Week Five/Six: In addition to the week two exercise, one additional feature you should add in Week three is walking for half an hour during the evenings with a backpack on carrying 3-4 kgs. This could be 2lts of water, some snacks, a jacket etc. This will help strengthen your back and shoulders thus preparing you for the long hours of trekking. If you don’t want to just simply walk, also try increasing your time on climbing flight of steps. As compared to week one, you should aim to be able to climb 10-12 flight of stairs comfortably.
  4. Week Seven/Eight: Sustenance. Keep up the tempo, sustain the workout. Try avoiding doing anything very rigorous but be consistent with morning and evening walks/runs and climbing flight of stairs.
  5. Week Nine: Sustain the workout. Increase only if you feel comfortable. Start doing an additional 10-15 mins of climbing stairs in the morning/evening with a daypack of 2-3 Kg; about 30-35 floors once a day should help increase the stamina and endurance considerably.

Please remember, consistency is the Key here. Do not do anything to exert yourself or something that will increase chances of Injury. Running / brisk walking 4-5 kms for 5 days in a week is far better than running a 20 km on one day of the week and injuring your Knee/Ligaments in the process. If you can be consistent with above mentioned schedule, The Great Lakes Trek, though physically challenging, will become a pleasant and enjoyable experience for you. Feel free to call us or mail us in case you want more details on how to prepare for this trek!

Contact: [email protected]

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