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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

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  • Safety
  • Small groups - (6-12)
  • Experience nature
  • Sustainable experiences

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  • 8 Days/7 Nights
  • Hard
  • 13800 ft./4206 m
  • 12 Participants
  • July-September
  • Kashmir

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Overview

Kashmir Great Lakes trek, one of the most popular treks, offers an epiphanic moment every day, and the views keep getting better and more beautiful. Trekking in Kashmir is an experience that justifies why it is called the ‘Heaven on Earth.’ Every step you take, every pass you cross, and every meadow you walk on brings immense joy and contentment. 

Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) Trek is an incredible seven-day journey that feels like walking in paradise. It is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque treks in India, and if you’re looking for a must-do trek with magical landscapes, Kashmir Great Lakes trek tops the list. 

Witness lush green meadows and dream-like valleys

KGL is trekkers’ favourite for its lush green meadows, dreamlike valleys abloom with vibrant wildflowers, and breathtaking alpine lakes in turquoise and emerald green shades. 

Every time you cross a pass and land on the meadow, the beauty of these serene grasslands is enhanced. Each valley you pass allures you with its unparalleled beauty, compelling you to spend that extra minute appreciating the charm of these hidden valleys.

KGL is a trek crafted with perfection. Besides the enchanting landscapes, KGL boasts of dream-like campsites. Each campsite on Kashmir’s Great Lakes trek appears as if carved patiently by nature, ensuring perfection at each step. 

If your idea of venturing outdoors includes enjoying the beauty of majestic mountains and postcard-perfect views, Kashmir Great Lakes has to be on your list. Kashmir Great Lake has one of the most breathtaking trails. Add scenic beauty on all seven days of the trail. The trek starts from a small village called Shitkadi and gives you a glimpse of Kashmir’s magical beauty.

Kashmir Great Lakes trek brochure

Inclusions

    • Meals 
      • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners (Day 1 Dinner to Day 7 Breakfast)
    • Accommodation 
      • Tents, Homestays/Dorms
      • Cloakroom Charges 
    • Highly Experienced Leaders and Guides 
      • Trained and Qualified Guides
      • Certified Outdoor Leaders
    • Permits
      • National Parks and Sanctuaries
      • Forest Permits and Entry fees 
    • Camping Equipment
      • Kitchen Tent
      •  Toilet Tent
      • Dome Tents 
      • Sleeping Bags
      • Mattresses
    • Technical Equipment
      • Wilderness Medical Kit
      • Climbing Rope 
      • Climbing Accessories
      • Ice Axe
      • Microspikes
      • Oxygen Cylinder
      • BP Meter
      •  Oximeter, Thermometer etc.

Exclusions 

  • Cab charges to and from Shitkadi – OWLS Basecamp.
  • Meals during transit to and from Shitkadi – OWLS Basecamp.
  • Personal expenses 
  • Offloading charges 
  • Cost incurred due to change in the itinerary 
  • Additional services  (including mules, assistance, health-related support etc.)
  • Anything not mentioned in the Inclusions list

How to reach the basecamp of Kashmir Great Lakes trek?

The base camp of Kashmir Great Lakes is Shitkadi. Shitkadi is your first OWLS campsite near Sonmarg, a renowned destination in Kashmir. To reach Shitkadi you have to fly to Srinagar on Day 0. 

Srinagar is well connected by air to all the metro cities. We recommend participants reach Srinagar on DAY 0 and halt here for a night before heading towards the base camp on Day 1. 

OWLS helps to organise your transport from Srinagar to the Shitkadi base camp. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to plan your travel to Srinagar 

  • Book your flight to Srinagar on Day 0 i.e. A day before your trek starts. 
  • Book a hotel in Srinagar for the night. (Note: Book hotels near Dal Lake or Boulevard Road for safety purposes.)
  • Reach the OWLS pick-up point in time. 

Travel Plan option A – By air to Srinagar

Travelling to Srinagar by air from your city is the most convenient option to reach Srinagar. There are direct flights to Srinagar from many metro cities. 

Book an early morning flight from your city to Srinagar. Reach Srinagar airport in the afternoon or evening of Day 0. 

Arriving in Srinagar on day 0, instead of Day 1 allows you to rest well before your trek. 

Travel Plan option B – By train to Jammu, followed by road/train journey to Srinagar

Other option to reach Srinagar is to travel by train to Jammu followed by a road journey. It takes around 9-12 hrs to cover the distance of around 250 km between Jammu and Srinagar. 

Although this option is economical you need to plan well in advance. The highway connecting Srinagar and Jammu is often troubled by roadblocks during monsoon when the KGL season begins. 

Here are a few options to reach Srinagar from Jammu

  • Fly from Jammu to Srinagar – Travel by train to Jammu and fly from Jammu to Srinagar. It is a short flight of 50 minutes. 
  • The second option is to travel by bus from Jammu to Srinagar. You can avail of the bus service outside Jammu Railway Station or ISBT Jammu. It takes roughly 9-10 hours if there are no roadblocks en route. 
  • The third option is to get on a shared cab outside Jammu railway station or ISBT Jammu. 
  • The last option is to reach Jammu by train, followed by road journey to Banihal. From Banihal, you can catch a train to Jammu. 

Note- If you are opting for option B to reach Srinagar, plan well in advance and include buffer days. The roadblocks are frequent on the Jammu Srinagar Highway, especially during monsoon. 

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Itinerary

Day 1 : Srinagar (5,200 ft.) to Shitkadi (7,800 ft.)

On day 1, you leave from Srinagar to Shitkadi, the basecamp of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. The distance of 75 km is covered in around 3.5 hrs. The road traverses through the majestic beauty of the Kashmir Valley.

The journey to Shitakdi is through the beautiful valleys of Kashmir. You cross paddy and rice fields along the journey. The journey also takes you through apple orchards sprawling along the roads. As your cab heads towards Shitkadi, river Sind is flowing in the opposite direction.

Day 2 : Shitkadi (7,800 ft.) to Nichnai (11,500 ft.)

The day is full of ascent, followed by some descent after it finally opens to a meadow. You will walk along the mesmerizing trail for around 7-8 hours before you reach Nichnai. On the way to Nichnai, the trail opens to flat grasslands covered with beautiful wildflowers sprawling like a carpet.

The walk from Shitkadi to Ninchnai takes you through pine and oak forests, some breathtaking meadows, and astounding valleys. As you reach Nichnai campsite, you are welcomed by the lush green spread of huge meadows. The view in front of you compels you to forget the long trail you walked through.

Day 3 : Nichnai (11,500 ft.) to Vishnusar lake (12,000 ft.)

The trail starting from Nichnai to Vishnusar lake requires you to cross Nichnai Pass, and traverse through a gradual ascent to the pass, followed by a steep descent before the trek opens to flat grasslands allowing you some easy walk.

The meadow is surrounded by mountains and sprawls like an infinite green carpet. Walking on these meadows is a surreal experience. Our team also takes a break here for lunch and we allow our participants to immerse and indulge in the beauty this place offers.

The meadow ends and opens to Vishnusar Lake. After reaching the campsite of Vishnusar Lake, our team hikes up to the lake and spend time enjoying the changing colors of the glacial lake. The color of the lake depends on the time of the day. The lake offers a glimpse of blue emerald green to turquoise.

Day 4 : Vishnusar (12,000 ft.) to Gadsar (12,500 ft.) via Gadsar Pass (13,800 ft.)

On Day 4, the OWLS team starts from Vishnusar Lake and heads towards Kishansar Lake. After spending some time by the lake here, you start to ascend the Gadsar Pass. Gadsar Pass is also the trickiest part of the trek. As you start climbing the pass, you see Krishnasar Lake after 15 minutes. Climb for another 45 minutes, and you will witness two lakes of Kishansar and Vishnusar.

The descent from the Gadsar Pass is also steep, and tricky but offers a rewarding view. After you cross Gadsar Pass, the experience culminates in a flat land of another valley covered with multi-colored flowers. The meadows only gets better, and as you walk on these grasslands, the hours-long steep climb and descent feel rewarding.

Gadsar, surrounded by mountains, is one of the prettiest lakes you will witness in this experience of encountering alpine lakes. The lake is huge and also one of the favourite of the locals who accompany the OWLS team. We take a lunch break by the lake. After enjoying the Gadsar lake, it ends at Gadsar Campsite, around 1.5hrs ahead of the lake.

Day 5 : Gadsar (12,500 ft.) to Satsar (12,000 ft.)

The day starts with the steep ascent of around 2 hrs which opens to a flat and gradual ascent. The day is considerably easy. If you leave early in the morning, and it’s your lucky day, you will be offered a glimpse of Nanga Parbat. The sighting of Nanga Parbat is rare and depends on the weather.

The name Satsar derives from the Kashmiri word Sat, meaning seven and Sar translates to the lake. The trail takes you to different lakes that together make Satsar Lake. After reaching Satsar, climbing for the steep ascent of 45 minutes, you will come across a lake.

Day 6 : Satsar (12,000 ft.) to Gangabal twin lakes (11,500 ft.)

The climb from Satsar to the twin lakes requires you to walk through a tricky patch full of boulders. The route is a mix of steep ascent and steep descent for crossing the Zajibal pass, and you climb up and down throughout the experience. After you climb and reach the ridge, the twin lakes of Gangabal and Nundkol offer iconic pictures of the Great Kashmir Lakes Trek. From here you start approaching the twin lakes.

You reach the first lake around 1.30 PM in the afternoon and enjoy your lunch by the shore of the lakes. The lake appears at a stone’s throw away distance, however as you start to approach the lakes, the distance just seems to increase, and takes a while before you finally reach the lake.

The team will reach the campsite which is 500 m from the Nundkol.

Day 7 : Gangabal (11,500 ft.) to Naranag (7,450 ft.) and Drive to Srinagar

As your KGL experience ends today, you will descend to Naranag from Gangabal. After descending on undulating grassland for about an hour, you reach an army check post where you will have to produce your identity proofs and also get your backpacks checked.

Once you get an approval from the army, you start descending and reach the small hamlet of Naranag. Naranag is a small village known for the ruins of the ancient Naranag temple. This site attracts photographers and tourists for its scenic beauty. After a brief halt in Naranag, the team drives back to Srinagar. You will reach Srinagar around 6 PM at night.

Day 8 : Buffer day

In case we use this day, our outdoor leader will collect INR 1500/- as operational charges for this day.

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Map

Kashmir GreatLakes map by gooutwithowls
Kashmir GreatLakes map by gooutwithowls

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek FAQ

What is the distance of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

The total distance of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is around 76 km. The average distance you will cover is 8-12 km per day. You will walk for 6-8 hours every day. The longest day of the trek is day 3 when you start from Vishnusar to Gadsar via Gadsar Pass. You will cover around 16 km in roughly 7-9 hrs.

Is the Kashmir Great Lake trek suitable for beginners?

Kashmir Great Lakes is a challenging trek.  Participating in the Kashmir Great Lakes as a beginner, you must have impeccable physical fitness. 

 KGL is suitable for experienced trekkers. However, if you are prepared to work towards your physical preparedness, a beginner can attempt the KGL trek. 

Is the Kashmir Great Lakes trek difficult?

Kashmir Great Lakes is a moderate-difficult trek. The trek starts at an altitude of 7800ft. from its basecamp Shitkadi, near Sonmarg and climbs to the highest elevation of 13,800ft at Gadsar Pass. Trekkers have to be in good physical condition to trek comfortably. 

What will be the temperature on Kashmir Great Lakes? 

 Daytime temperature in Kashmir Great Lakes trek ranges between 14°C and 18°C. The night is colder with the minimum temperature reaching 5°C in July. 

Read more about Kashmir Great Lakes temperature here. 

 

When is the best time to visit Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

The best time to visit the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is between July- September. The weather is pleasant during these months. The valleys embrace vibrant colours throughout the season. 

Read more about the KGL trek best time here 

Will there be snow on the trek?

The Kashmir Great Lakes batches start in July and continue till September. There will be no snow on the trek when you go on this trek in July. The trek receives snow towards the end of September. You can expect snow if you are planning this trek in September. 

What is the cost of Kashmir Great Lakes trek?

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek cost is Rs. 16,225/- 

The trek cost covers your experience from basecamp to basecamp. 

 

What is the altitude of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

KGL is at an altitude of 13,800ft. The trek starts from Srinagar at an altitude of 5,200ft.

The distance of 75 km between Srinagar and Shitkadi is covered in around 3.5 hrs. The road traverses through the majestic beauty of the Kashmir Valley.

What is the duration of the KGL trek?

The KGL trek is seven days long. This includes travel to and from the basecamp. 

What is the starting point of Kashmir Great Lakes?

The trek starts from a place called Shitkadi. Shitkadi is near the famous tourist destination, Sonmarg. 

Where is the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek located?

The trek is located in Ganderbal district in Kashmir.

FAQ

How should I prepare to avoid AMS?

The most important thing to do on a trek to avoid AMS is to drink water, more than your daily intake. Water is an excellent way to avoid AMS. Along with this, you should also have all the nutritious meals we provide on the trek. If you still are sceptical about getting AMS, we would advise you to carry Diamox tablets with you. However, according to the situation your Outdoor leader will advise whether or not you should take it.

I have a medical condition. Can I join the trek?

We encourage everyone to trek, even if or not they have a medical condition. We have an in-house doctor at OWLS with whom you can discuss your medical condition and accordingly, we can help you better prepare you for the trek.

What document do I need to carry?

Please keep the following documents ready before filling out this form

  1. ID proof
  2. Health form (for all participants of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh treks) and (for all participants <15 and > 60 years of age)
  3. RTPCR for children <15 years/Vaccination certificate for adults (for Nepal treks)

Should I bring snacks to eat on the trek?

Although we provide filling breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with morning tea and evening snacks, you can carry some light snacks for munching on the trail. You can carry protein bars, dry fruits, and homemade snacks like Shakkarpara to help you give that extra energy on the trek. 

Who will be leading my trek?

All our Outdoor Leaders are trained and experienced leaders. They have completed basic Mountaineering Course, and are equipped with basic first-aid knowledge. Our leaders are certified Wilderness First Responder course

Do I need to get my medical kit for the trek?

You don’t need to carry your medical kit. If you have your prescribed medications, you need to carry them on the trek

What kind of arrangement is available for accommodation on the trek?

The accommodation will be on twin sharing basis. One tent will be shared by two trekkers. 

Is there any arrangement for offloading on the trek?

Yes. Communicate your requirement to the trek leaders beforehand, as it will be difficult to arrange to offload at the last minute. The offloading charges will be Rs 350 per bag, and your bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. 

Note: At OWLs, we suggest our participants carry their backpacks and avoid offloading. However, in case of pressing circumstances, you can opt for offloading.

Is there any option to keep our luggage at the base camp?

Yes, you can leave the extra luggage at the base camp. However, do not leave valuables like laptops, jewellery, or any other expensive items in the base camp. 

What will be the toilet facilities on the trek?

The OWLS team will set up a toilet tent near the campsites. The toilets will be dry toilets and you will have to use toilet paper. There will be a pit dug by the team and you will have to cover your nature’s call with dry soil. Avoid using wet wipes, as they are not biodegradable. At OWLS, we thrive to leave no trace in the mountains. 

At the base camp, you will have regular concrete toilets.

What will be the food arrangement on the trek?

The food offered will be as per the nutritional requirements. As you will be walking every day for 4-6 hours, you will be burning a good amount of calories. The team makes sure that the food you will be offered is healthy and helps you sustain through the day. The regular meal comprises eggs, locally grown vegetables, rice, roti, and pulses. The menu changes from day to day. 

What will be the status of the mobile network on the trek?

You will have access to most of the mobile networks at Srinagar. We suggest our participants make important calls while at the base camp. There will be no signals throughout the trek. 

Note: Only postpaid SIM cards work in Kashmir.