Tarsar Marsar vs Kashmir Great Lakes

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Trekking in Kashmir is beyond beautiful mountains. Kashmir treks bring you close to enigmatic glacial lakes, verdant valleys, spectacular mountain views, and the prettiest campsites. The tag of ‘Heaven on Earth’ comes to reality when you explore the higher reaches of Kashmir and explore its beauty through two stunning treks of Tarsar Marsar and Kashmir Great Lakes.

When we come to treks in Kashmir, there are two prominent and popular treks everyone is fond of. However, trekkers are often in dilemma when it comes to zeroing down on one. Although there is an abundance of new and upcoming treks in Kashmir, these two classics still rule as the most popular trekking destinations in Kashmir. 

Tarsar Marsar in the Pahalgam region of Kashmir and the Kashmir Great Lakes in Sonmarg are equally beautiful yet offer contrasting landscapes, sceneries, and different trails. The trekkers who wish to explore treks in Kashmir are often confused to choose one. Here is a detailed analysis of two of the most popular treks in Kashmir. 

Tarsar Marsar vs Kashmir Great Lakes: Difficulty level

Tarsar Marsar Trek spreads over seven days and climbs to an altitude of 13201 ft. Kashmir Great Lakes is comparatively longer and more challenging. KGL is completed and is also explored in seven days and the highest altitude you will climb to is 13,800ft. However, KGL has more difficult trails.  You will have longer walking hours and traverse through some tricky terrain. 

On the Tarsar Marsar trek, you cover a total distance of roughly 40 km. The trail is comfortable as compared to its twin KGL. Tarsar Marsar is categorized as a moderate trek. KGL is a difficult trek and you will be covering a distance of around 70 km in seven days. KGL demands long walks on meadows, traversing your way on boulders and moraines. There are also three passes you cross on the KGL trek. The trail is a combination of steep ascents and descents on most days. The trek is suitable for people with prior experience of high-altitude treks. 

Tarsar Marsar vs Kashmir Great Lakes: Campsites 

The Tarsar Marsar campsite boasts a stunning view of a tranquil lake

The Tarsar Marsar experience flaunts campsites like no other treks. The unparalleled beauty of the campsite at Lidderwart, and Shekwas is beyond imagination, and straight out of a dream. They say, that in Kashmir,  you experience a heavenly encounter and Tarsar Marsar opens a vast spread of heavenly campsites, and alpine lakes. Shekwas Campsite on day 3 of your trek offers dreamlike landscapes in front of you. Our trekkers often wish to embrace Shekwas campsite for a few more days. The lush green meadows nestled in the lap of three valleys, making it a perfect spot to soak in the rawness of nature. 

The best part about the Tarsar experience is camping right next to the alpine lakes. This opportunity is exclusive to Tarsar. When you open your eyes in the morning, the first thing you will lay your eyes on is the glistening water of these lakes. On the Tarsar Marsar trek, you have the opportunity to camp just on the bank of the lakes, a rare thing to find on any other trek. 

KGL lets you experience the beauty of around 7 alpine lakes, however, there is no camping next to the lake on the trek. Although there are no campsites next to the lakes, KGL has something new to offer on every day of the trek. As you will be traversing your way in different valleys on different days, the campsites are lush green meadows with streams flowing nearby. Be it the massive meadow of Nichnai, or the wallpaper-like setting of Satsar meadows, KGL has so much variety to offer on each day of the trek. 

Tarsar Marsar vs Kashmir Great Lakes: The Lake Experience 

The majestic view of Kashmir Great Lakes

The KGL boasts around six beautiful alpine lakes. You will have the opportunity to witness the turquoise water of not just one but six alpine lakes. There is a classic beauty of the Twin Lakes of Gangabal and Nandkhol. Other twin lakes of Vishnusar and Kishansar and their picturesque setting is a scenery straight out of postcards. When you reach Satsar, there are a few small lakes part of Satsar that are accessible from the campsites. Satsar translates to seven lakes. 

The colour of the lakes on KGL changes throughout the day. You will witness the glittering blue water in the morning as it rises, and discover the shades of blue in the evening. It is therapeutic to just sit by the corner of these lakes and gaze at the unending beauty. 

The lake experience in Tarsar Marsar is as pretty as KGL if not more. As compared to KGL, the lakes on Tarsar Marsar treks are secluded and give you exclusivity. On Tarsar Marsar Trek, you will have exclusive access to an exotic Tarsar and Marsar, and its emerald green water. The striking beauty of these two lakes can compel you to freeze the moment. 

Tarsar Lake has a perfect setting to immerse yourself in its beauty. The soft grass on the bank of the lake is a perfect spot to explore the lake barefoot. Many trekkers choose to just sit by the shore of the lake and marvel at the grandeur of its beauty. You can take a round of the lake and enjoy the beauty of the lake from different angles. The enigmatic Marsar on the other hand remains shrouded in clouds. On a clear day, you will witness its enchanting and flawless beauty. 

Though the number of treks is more on KGL, however, just the three lakes of Tarsar, Marsar, and Sundersar are enough to compete with KGL’s number. The main highlight of the lakes on Tarsar is access to camp just bang on the shore of the alpine lakes, something that is not allowed on KGL. 

Tarsar Marsar vs Kashmir Great Lakes: The Basecamp Experience 

The difference in the landscapes of the two treks is visible right at the basecamps. While Aru Village near Pahalgam is greener and surrounded by dense forest, Shitkadi near Sonmarg is amidst rugged mountains and scanty forest covers. 

Tarsar Marsar’s Basecamp, Aru village, is one of the prettiest villages you will witness. Aru Village is around 100 km from Srinagar. You reach the base camp after four hours of traversing through beautiful villages and apple-laden orchards.

The setting of Aru Village is no less than a dream. The snowcapped mountains in the background, the mountain river flowing by the side, and the dense pine and oak trees circling the village. Tarsar Marsar starts to get interesting right at its base camp. The beauty of Aru Village is only a teaser of what you discover in the next seven days. Aru Valley has an option for trekkers to explore the village. The village offers quite interesting views in its vicinity.  

The Basecamp of Kashmir Great Lakes is Shitkadi. Unlike Aru village, you will spend the night in a tent at Shitkadi Campsite. Shitkadi is a few km ahead of Sonmarg. The Shitkadi camp rests amidst the lush green surroundings and the Sindh River flows just next to the campsite. To camp by the river on your very first day starts the trek on an adventurous note. 

On the Tarsar Marsar trek, the verdant valleys of Aru Village give you a sneak of how your days are going to unfold. KGL’s base camp in Shitkadi prepares you for an adventurous journey through beautiful valleys, some tricky patches, and long walking hours on the trail. 

Tarsar Marsar vs KGL: The Verdict 

If you want to experience the raw beauty of Kashmir, you must find time to explore both treks. The two treks offer distinct landscapes of two different parts of Kashmir. There are a few similarities yet so much contrast in what they offer.  Tarsar Marsar takes you to the heart of Kashmir and lets you discover the hidden beauty of the valley. The trail traverses through a secluded forest and verdant valleys and you will have ultimate wilderness. Tarsar Marsar remains unexplored with hardly a few groups on the trail. KGL, being the most popular amongst the trekking community attracts a huge number of trekkers every season. The trail will have any groups heading towards the campsites. The campsites of KGL will have more tents as compared to Tarsar. 

Kashmir Great Lakes is touted as the prettiest trek in India, undoubtedly so. However, Tarsar Marsar has equally beautiful trails and exotic campsites. While the meadows on Tarsar are greener, the valleys on the KGL offer more colours as wildflowers adorn these valleys in a vibrant pop of colours. 

KGL is perfect for you if you have already been on a few high-altitude treks. It will be easier to tread your path on tricky patches of the trek and deal with the long walking hours. However, if you are a beginner and wish to start your trekking journey in Kashmir, Tarsar Marsar can be an easier option than KGL. We have had beginners joining on both our treks in Kashmir. With the right amount of preparation, you can consider KGL as well. It is not unachievable, but it will be challenging and demanding for beginners. 

We hope to have provided some insights about both the treks in Kashmir. If you plan to trek in Kashmir this year, you can find out more about OWLS Kashmir treks here. 

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