Located in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is a hallmark of nature abound. Kashmir is the core Himalayas in its full essence. The scenes are astounding, to say the least. The stretches run far and wide feeding the eyes with lush vistas. Indisputably Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is the prettiest trek in India. This 8 days’ trek runs through alpine lakes, meadows, and mountains. You camp beside the beautiful lakes and in stunning meadows. The pretty becomes your new normal.
Note that this is a moderately difficult trek due to you climbing up and down ‘3’ mountains. You touch the maximum altitude of 13,800 ft. Add to it daily long walks of 10 to 12 kms. If not prepared physically and mentally, it can be exhausting. So, to absorb the divinity of this trek, you need to be experienced for a week-long Himalayan trekking. Besides, you should be well prepared for endurance, strength, and flexibility.
From Srinagar, reach base camp Sonamarg (9,186 ft.). The trek begins next morning. You are about to build the memories of a lifetime.
The Lakes – This trek packs for you 5 key alpine lakes, besides several others. Almost every day of the trek, you see one lake. Get all glacial experience in these pristine, clear, bluish green, wide waters, with even icebergs floating sometimes. The banks are fertile, lush green. Take the most meaningful walks of life there.
On day 4, you leisurely explore Vishansar Lake (12,139 ft.). This big lake is surrounded by mountains with their reflection in the water making the scenery spectacular. Just 500ft high from Vishansar Lake, at the foot of Mt. Krishansar, is a similar Krishansar Lake (12,467 ft.). Your booty is camping at Vishansar! On day-5, soon after starting the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, you reach a point from where both the lakes are visible. This is the prettiest view of this trek in India and stays until Gadsar Pass (13,697 ft.).
Further down the Pass, you reach Yamsar Lake. As per the folklore, it has been named after Lord Yama. Walk a bit and you come across another lake without any known name. Keep treading and you reach the most beautiful lake of the trek Gadsar Lake (11,811 ft.). Whenever you see lakes in the close vicinity, a stream trickling down often unifies them. It’s no different here. Fix your camp besides Gadsar Lake.
You are up for a bonanza on the 6th day. A group of 7 lakes, called Satsar Lakes (11,482 ft.), welcomes you in a mind-blowing setting – green shores, lofty mountains, lakes, and open skies. Except for the biggest first lake you come across, depending on the season the other 6 may or may not have water in them. All the 7 Satsar Lakes open into Wangath Nallah. Spend a night here.
Descending from Satsar to Gangabal Lake (11,482 ft.) on day 7, you reach a point where you get to see Nandkol and Gangabal twin lakes. The lakes cradled among mountains look beautiful from that point. Get down further and you pass Nandkol Lake to reach Gangabal Lakeshore. Camp here tonight.
Besides ‘the’ Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and some other lakes keep your journey worthwhile.
Meadows – Kashmir is a fertile land with flourishing meadows spread out on all days of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. The lush green pastures have sweet interruptions of colorful wildflowers. On day 1 itself, you reach Shekdur, a sprawling meadow with Bhoj trees lining it. Nichnai (11,482 ft.), the first campsite, too is a profuse grassland with 2 mountains on the side. Getting down the Nichnai Pass, you reach another breathtaking meadow with wildflowers and a river flowing by the side. The Vishansar campsite is a green field with a filmy setting. On day 5, when going from Vishansar Lake to Gadsar, the meadows you come across have red, blue and purple flowers. The journey is lush on day 06 and 07 too. On Day 8 before Naranag, you get to see the last of the meadows with beautiful yellow flowers.
Forests – Open grasslands are painted dark by the deep forests you walk through. They mostly are Maple, Pine, and Bhoj trees. On day 08, from Gangabal Lake to Naranag (7,545 ft.), you see the most beautiful pine forest of this hike.
Peaks – The Himalayas are in full galore in this trek. While you traverse through more of valleys, you do get to see a spread of peaks too. Right from snow-clad tops on day 1 to barren Ladakh style mountains on day 2. A little further from Satsar Lake on day-7, you reach a point where you again see barren mountains on one side and green ones on the other. You reach Lake Nandkol, which is at the foot of Mt. Harmukh (16,870 ft.). You also see Harmukh Glacier along the sides of the peak. The peak sees you off, as you proceed to Naranag.
Passes – On day-3, you can see Nichnai Pass. On day-5 you reach Gadsar Pass from where you can see across LOC. This is the highest altitude of the trek. The pastures being Kashmiri across the LOC too, are as stunning with snow-capped natural mountains and lakes spreading out.
The trek ends on day-8 at Naranag. From Naranag, reach Srinagar.
The sensitivity of J&K – Its well known that this region has frequent disturbances and is under army cover. Therefore, before going for the trek, do stay in the loop with the J&K developments. Also, make sure you have your original ID’s. Keep at least 1 day in hand to accommodate a deviation in the plan.