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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

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The Great Lakes of Kashmir trek is set in an almost heavenly arena of high mountain vistas, endless pastureland's, and of course, the great lakes. Arguably the best way to witness the beauty of the Kashmir Himalayan region, you will be rewarded with a palette of colors every single day that you walk on this trail.

Type: Himalayan Trek
Difficulty: Moderate

Short Itinerary
Day 1: Srinagar to Sonmarg (9000 ft)
Day 2: Sonmarg (9000 feet) to Nichnai (11,500 feet).
Day 3: Nichnai (11,500 feet) Vishansar Lake (12,000 feet).
Day 4: Explore Vishansar Lake and Kishansar Lake (12,000 feet) Day 5: Vishansar lake (12,500 ft) to Gadsar (13,750 ft) via Gadsar Pass.
Day 6: Gadsar (12,000 ft) to Satsar (12,000 ft).
Day 7: Satsar (12,000 ft) to Twin Lakes of Gangabal (11,500 ft).
Day 8: Gangabal (11,500 ft) to Naranag (7,450 ft)

Private Vehicle

You can reach Srinagar on your own; it is connected via direct flights from all major cities of India. A pick up will be arranged from Srinagar for Sonmarg in Shared cab. 60 km drive from Srinagar to Sonmarg is very scenic and picturesque. Once at Sonmarg a briefing will be held about all the trek essentials and precautions during trek.

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Tents

3 km out of Sonmarg on Srinagar road, right at 3 km milestone there is a dhaba which is the last point where we can find packed eateries. A jeep track goes down to level of Sindh River, which flows between mud track and main road, from right of dhaba, trail starts with the mud track but the trail climbs up quickly. We take a left after 10 minutes into the trek and enter a meadow overlooking Sonmarg town. After half an hour of trekking we reach at the top of the meadow, before entering the dense forest of Maple, trail descends quickly to a tiny brook and climbs up again to enter the dense forest of Maple.

From next one and half hour trail winds up in dense forest of Maple, walking on the bed of green grass amidst the Maple trees is an experience very unique to Kashmir in India. Trails going downhill go to nearby villages but we stick to the trail going uphill. The trees give some clearing in between so we can turn around and have a look the gorgeous views of Sonmarg valley, views of valley gets better as we climb up. On the top of the ridge the maple trees ends and on the other side of the ridge, a meadow gently slopes down. Views of Sonmarg Valley from top of the ridge are really fascinating.
The trail now takes a descent to a meadow lined with Silver Birch trees on left and some huts of shepherds. Brooks struggling to cross the meadow serve as water source for trekkers and shepherds alike. To the right of the meadow we can see some snowed peaks, that is Shekdur. Having a lunch in a meadow surrounded by Bhoj trees is something which is not very common for any of treks in Himalaya. A gentle descent from Shekdur trail goes into the forest of Bhoj forest; look out for sun rays piercing through the dense forest creating a mesmerizing show of sunrays. About 45 minutes into trail it opens up for river valley of Nichnai. On the right bank of Nichanai River the trail goes upstream following the river. First half an hour of trail is now on rocks and it will be more of boulder hoping than walking. Lush green grass patches devoid of any rocks can be found after about an hour into the river valley. These meadows of Nichnai are our today’s campsite.

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After a good night sleep at beautiful campsite of Nichnai, it is time for a long day of pass crossing. We start early around 8:00 AM so that we have plenty of time to admire the ever changing landscapes. Nichnai Pass or Vishansar Lake is our first destination of the day, from campsite of Nichnai we can see the tunnel like Nichnai pass in distance. To the left of the pass a twin snow-clad peak can be seen. Walking for half an hour on the right bank of the river it is time to switch the side to left banks. For the next one hour as we traverse through the meadow we can notice that trail is ascending slowly, along the left bank of the river. Next one hour involves steep climbing to the Nichnai Pass.

At 13,500ft Nichnai pass is very deceptive, what we see from meadows down is actually a ridge but not the actual pass. The trails takes two inward turns and it is only than the actual pass opens up. From top of the pass we can see the trail we walked till top and magnificent views of Sonmarg Valley. On top BSNL network is working, it is the last point on Kashmir Great Lake Trek where we get network. Just in the second day of trek and we are at 13,500ft so it is common to feel the altitude up at pass but for good of us the trail is descending after the pass.

After a small steep descent from the pass, the trail goes to a long flat walk on grassy green meadow that ends near to Vishansar Lake, our last destination of today. For about one hour from pass we walk on rocky trail than the rocks give way to grass. What lies ahead is miles long wide green meadow, red flowers springing out at will, with mountains lining the sides. A river starting from pass flows through the meadow. To the left of the trail is a cascading waterfall splashing down the mountain cliff and joining the river. Waterfall marks the end of the steep descent and now we are walking on the flat wide meadow. To the left we can see the perennial snowed mountain peaks of Himalaya but what lies on the right is barren cold mountains resembling the Ladakh ranges. Two streams flow through the valley; we stay close to the one in left before crossing its icy cold water.

For next one and half hour we walk on the flat meadow to reach the end of the valley. A stream originating from Vishansar Lake flows through the flat meadow; this is our camping site for tonight. Vishansar Lake, situated little higher, cannot be seen from the campsite or from any point on today’s trek.

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Tents

The Vishansar Lake lies about 1km to the left of the campsite and 100 meters higher than the campsite. Just a little walk along the stream flowing through the meadow takes us to the beautiful Vishansar Lake. The Lake is nestled right below four mountains. Reflection of Kishansar Peak in calm waters of lake creates a mesmerizing scenario. The colour of the lake depends on the time of the day and condition of clouds in the sky. Expect clear colourless water before sunrise, the lake starts getting its colours when the sun starts to shine. Water of Vishansar is absolutely blue when it’s a clear morning and it looks greenish blue in later half of the day. It is worth all the hues to get a glimpse of lake, be whatever colour it is.

Kishansar Lake, next lake of Kashmir Great Lake Trek, is situated at the base of Kishansar peak 1.2km far and around 500ft higher from the Vishansar Lake. It takes around half an hour to climb this 500ft to reach Kishansar Lake. We need to find a spot where it is easiest to cross the stream to its right. There are multiple tracks going towards the Kishansar Lake for better views of Lake Take one going up towards the ridge. There is no point on today’s trail where we can see both the lakes together even when they are just 1.2km apart. Kishansar is also big and blue and it has a large meadow to its right. The meadow and lake is bordered by a sharply rising ridge, the trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and on the top is Gadsar pass, highest point of Kashmir Great Lake Trek.

Both the Lake Kishansar and Vishansar are full of trout fishes bit for fishing we need prior permission from authorities at Srinagar.

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Today’s trek starts towards Kishansar Lake side and climbs up to the top of ridge. We can see a very thin line traversing through the mountain side that is our trail to follow till the top of Gadsar Pass. One and a half hour of climb at moderate pace will take us to the top of the ridge. About 45 minutes into the trek and we will be presented with one of the most magnificent view one can ever imagine. To sight of both the Vishansar and Kishansar Lakes together and in full view is something which defines the Kashmir Great Lake Trek as most beautiful trek in Indian Himalaya. The view of lakes lasts till we reach to the top of the ridge to rejuvenate the tired legs by the uphill climb. Top of the ridge is called Gadsar pass at 13,800ft it is highest point of Kashmir Great lake Trek.

After two hours of ascent we reach to the top of the pass, trail on the other side of pass is steep descent followed by a flat walk in the meadow. As we descent down the valley on other side of the pass gets narrower with 2-3 small lakes visible. Far in distance we can see the high rising snow clad peaks, all the gorgeous peaks are situated on the other side of LOC.
The descent from Gadsar pass is pretty much straightforward and we encounter a small lake called Yamsar Lake, according to locals and shepherds of area; Lord Yama has some connection with this lake. A little beyond the Yamsar we can see a nameless lake. About an hour into the descent leads us into flat meadows again. All the meadows are laden with multicolour flowers springing out at will out of the green grass. The colour starts from red and goes to blue and purple Iris. When we reach the blue Iris flowers, we are almost at the Gadsar Lake, the most pristine lake of Kashmir Great Lake Trek. On one side of Gadsar Lake blue flowers are blooming and on other side is snow-clad cliifs, snow slabs falling in the lake whole day. The Yamsar, The nameless lake and Gadsar all three lakes are connected through a stream. We can get an idea about how beautiful Gadsar Lake is by the fact that nobody camps at Gadsar Lake, to keep it clean and as intact as it is. We can also see an abandoned army camp near to Gadsar too.

Next milestone on the trek is Gasdsar Army Camp, just a little hut housing 6-8 army people. If we choose not to camp at Gadsar then Gadsar Army Camp will be our campsite for tonight. Before reaching army camp we can see a small blue lake on the left of the trail. It takes around one and a half hour to reach army camp from Gadsar Lake. We lose a significant amount of altitude while coming down to army camp.

We need permission from the headquarters of army to move beyond the army camp. Usually it takes about 2 to 3 hours to get green signal to proceed further so it will be good that we inform army camp about it as early as we can. All details of the trekkers and staff, including original identity cards, are recorded, collected and checked.

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Tents

The trail now follows the stream before crossing it, flowing left of army camp. There is also a bridge about 1km down of army camp than can save our feet from getting wet but the uphill trail after bridge is pretty steep. The trail goes up the mountain after crossing the river. If anyone have trekked in western ghats than the trail would seem familiar. We are trekking just above the tree line, overlooking all the trees and river valley below. The hour and a half climb takes us beyond 11,500ft, the climb graduates to a traverse. The trail goes to flat meadow surrounded by the mountains after taking a left turn and leaving the river valley. The landscape here is very captivating, few deep craters, isolated mountains in front of us and a flat green bed with a stream flowing through it. Our today’s final destination is first of Satsar Lakes. Satsar is a group of seven lakes but not all of them are watered, we can find 4 or 5 lakes with water depending on the season. 10 minutes before we reach the lakes there is another army check post, after the same procedure of Ids check, we move ahead to first of Satsar Lakes campsite. The first lake is pretty big and looks very picturesque in setting of green bed with mountains in background.

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Tents

Today’s trek starts from the shore of the Satsar Lake and goes up and down like the whole trek of Kashmir Great Lake. After breakfast we move out of camps toward the biggest Satsar Lake. The terrain towards the Lake is more about boulder hoping than walking or trekking. The biggest of the Satsar Lake is also the last one out of the seven lakes. About half an hour to the biggest of Satsar Lake and another half an hour will take us to a point where we can see tree line towards our left and a ridge to our right.

At base of the ridge line at altitude of about 11,800ft we start the ascent towards a 1000ft higher ridge towards our right. 45 minutes of zigzag on pony trail will take to the top of the ridgeline. From top of the ridgeline we can see two more ridges which have to cross in order to reach the final destination of today. After a 2 hour of going up and down on ridges we will be at the top of the 3rd ridge, altimeter reads 13,400ft.

The views from top of the ridge are worth the two hour climb to reach the top. We can see two Lakes lying next to each other, one stream is connecting them taking water from higher lake to the lower lake. We can also notice two little lakes on each side of the valley. These two smaller lakes are nameless while the biggest of the set is Gangbal lake and other one is Nandkol, which is our last destination for today. To reach there we have to make a descent of about 1400ft. About one and half hour’s descent in rocky trail will take us to green grassy meadow. We can see tree line again about a kilometre down from this meadow.

A quick climb, a shorter descent and a stream crossing over a wooden log bridge brings you to the shores of Nundkol Lake. Littering of camps can be found at the shore of the Lake, making it less pristine than all the other lakes on Kashmir Great Lake Trek, reason for this is weekend trips from Naranag to Gangabal. The Harmukh glacier hangs on the sides of the rocky edges of Mt Harmukh, Nandkhol lies at the base of the mountain.

The Gangabal Lake is about 20 minutes from Nandkhol, a fierce stream connects both the Lakes and the stream must be crossed in order to reach the Gangabal Lake. To cross the stream we have to go to the banks of Gangabal, where we can find one good man made bridge to cross it. We make our camps on the banks of the lake and say good bye to the day.

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After spending our last night of trek camping on the shores of a beautiful lake, now it is time to head back toward the civilisation. Last day’s trek will put our knees and toes to a really good test. From the campsite head down towards the stream but instead of walking along the stream we keep up at ridge. After half an hour into the trek ridge ends and we may get some mobile network to inform our people about our well beings. From end of the ridge we descend toward a green flat meadow. When we look back to the way we have walked, we can see an impressive sight of Mt Harmukh. The green meadow has little yellow flowers growing all over and you start walking gingerly to avoid stepping over them.

An hour into the trail we hit the fringes of the tree line. Pine trees border the meadow and we can sense presence of civilization. Walk towards the right avoiding going directly into the forest, keep following the fringes. as it is in all the days of trek we never really lose altitude instead we climb up and down for 6kms before entering the pine forest completely. Only after we have walked more than two third of today’s trek, the real descent start. The way down is really steepy, the trailis well trodden muddy one through the thick of the pines. In last 4kms of trail we drop about 3000ft of altitude to see the sight of Naranag. We can spot a lot of people going up to Gangabal for a night camping trip. From 8,500ft we can see the sight of Naranag but the real test is yet due. The last stretch of the trek does become an endurance test but soon the stone paved village track comes up and in no time we enter the main road of Naranag. Trek ends here.

We will be reaching Naranag around evening so we can take a taxi for Srinagar.

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It is all about travel & adventure. That is what Pune Travel Club was founded upon and what the community is all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

The Pune Travel Club (PTC) is a non-profit, volunteer based group which organizes outdoor, sports, green and social events throughout the year on weekends and weekday mornings. Upcoming events are informed to our members through a mailing list, write-ups on completed events are posted on our blog, ongoing member discussions happen in our Facebook group.

PTC is a place where like-minded, nature loving and outdoor passionate souls come together in a open, volunteering environment, overcoming challenges together as a team, breaking out of oneself physical and mental boundaries, coming out as friends for life and recharged human beings with a different perspective on life. The non-profit nature of equal cost sharing and volunteering based environment focusing on a shared passion brings out the best in people.

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Reviews
Gunit kaur sethi
Gunit kaur sethi

I was looking forwarded to do K2S since long and finally it could happen with Pune travel club. I must say, it was one awesome experience which would not have been great without the support of Vamsy and other co-travellers on the Trek.

Thank you Pune travel club and Vamsy for such an awesome experience. I look forward to have some more adventure with you. ��

Sayali Chaudhari
Sayali Chaudhari

I went to Harishchandragad trek last weekend with these guys...It was an amazing trek...very well arranged...had so much fun...Thank you so much guys...!
One of my favorite treks till date...☺️

Special thanks to our trek leads @Ritu and @Rohit

Namita Hiremath
Namita Hiremath

It was my first ever trip and camping.... And people at Pune Travel Club made it really special for me. Considering the heavy rush for New Years I understand a few things might go here and there but overall I just loved it. Camping at Kashid... Beachside Campfire... Next day Beautiful scenary at the beach and water sports.... It was a special start of the New Year for me. Thanks a lot Pune Travel Club team.

Also I really want to mention about Shraddha.Her nature is extremely Sweet and friendly and makes everyone really comfortable. She is gem of person.... All the best and keep it up 😊

Bhagyashree Narkar
Bhagyashree Narkar

It was great experience of K2S trek with PTC. Though it is of last year but there are many good memories which are still in mind. Looking forward to many more treks and camping with PTC...�

Rohan Korlahalli
Rohan Korlahalli

PTC is the reason I have become passionate about traveling, I have done 3 trips with them in one month. I am not going to stop traveling with them. Treks are so well organized and the trek leads are so helpful and understanding. Traveling with PTC is now no more about choice, it's a habit now.
Thank you PTC!!

Kaustubh Zokarkar
Kaustubh Zokarkar

It was my first ever trekking experience and PTC made it worthwhile. Enjoyed a lot....Went with a very nice group from Pune to Bhandardara Fireflies festival..... Shraddha our co-ordinator was very humble, soft spoken and an outstanding person who guided us throughout the trekking....I would definitely love to attend more events.....


Inclusions

• Accommodation – Stay (triple sharing tents) is included from Day 1 to Day 7 (Sonamarg to Gangabal).
• Meals – All meals from dinner at Sonamarg on Day 1 to lunch at Naranag on Day 8 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
• Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
• Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 C. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
• Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be
available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
• Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
• Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.

Exclusions

None



Policy and Terms

• Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers to pick you up from Srinagar and drop you back from Naranag. • Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Sonamarg and return from Naranag. • Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge. Suitcases/trolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Sonamarg. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date. • Stay at Srinagar on the last day • Personal expenses of any kind • Anything apart from inclusions

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