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The trek to the Great Lakes of Kashmir offers a lifetime of memories made of pristine landscapes and endless stretches of alphine woodlands. Needless to say the, Kashmir Great Lakes is the prettiest trek in India. It is not on every trek that you get to see five beautiful alpine lakes. Each lake competing with the other in beauty that is almost divine. Apart from the lakes, even the barren milky snow clad mountains stand out in might and proud. So the mountains are calling you.
Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport, Srinagar
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Trekkers must never compromise with their body requirements. The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is not a child’s game but even a child of ten years can go on this trek. The luggage or the carry bag should be as light as possible. It will be in your comfort.
Reach Srinagar by air. Our representative will take you to Sonmarg from Srinagar. Since there are no shops around ensure that you have all that you need already. Remember to carry your ID proof in original and 2 photo copies as we have to submit them at the army check post.
(Overnight at Sonmarg)
The trek starts 3 kms out of Sonamarg, on the Srinagar road. What follows next is a lovely dense forest of Maple trees. Shekdur is a beautiful campsite surrounded by Bhoj trees. Shekdur, just three hours into the trek is too early to camp. Have lunch at the meadows and move ahead to Nichnai. In 45 minutes, you reach the end of the Birch trees and the trail goes down and climbs back into a river valley. An hour into the river valley green patches devoid of rocks open up.
Choose a flat ground to pitch tents and end the first days trek.
(Overnight at Nichani)
We will start early in the morning to get enough time en route to enjoy the meadows.
Our first destination for the day will be to cross the Nichnai pass. After half an hour of walking along the river, we will cross the river to move to its left bank. The next one hour, walk on the left bank. The following one hour is a climb to the pass. The Nichnai pass feels like a wide tunnel. A new river flows down from the pass into the meadow ahead. We will continue walking in the meadow for an hour and a half until we reach the end of the valley. There is ample camping space.
The Vishansar lake lies half a km to the left and 100ft higher from the campsite. The Kishansar peak though 0.5 km away. These lakes are full of trout and trout fishing is popular. If we have a permit from Srinagar we will opt for fishing.
(Overnight at Vishansar Lake)
We will take this as a rest day and we may visit Kishansar lake, which is at approx 1 and half kms from our camp site. Or if the weather is good, we will move towards next camp site, rest day can be used at Gangbal camp site.
(Overnight at Vishansar Lake)
The next lake in series is the Kishansar lake. The Kishansar lake lies just about ½ km away and 500ft higher than Vishansar. It takes about 45minutes to reach Kishansar lake from the campsite. We will move right towards the stream and cross it where it is easy. The trail climbs up on the right side of the Vishansar lake. Kishansar is also big and blue. It has a big meadow stretching on its right. The trail climbs up to the top of the ridge and on the top of the ridge is the Gadsar pass. We will spend time at the Kishansar meadows photographing the lake from various angles. The next part of the trek is from Kishansar lake side to the top of the ridge. 45 minutes into the climb, we will be treated to one of the loveliest views one can ever imagine. Both the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes are in full view together. The view of the twin lakes lasts till you reach the ridge top or the Pass, altitude 13,800ft – the highest point on this trek. It is not uncommon to find snow at the Gadsar pass and also in the initial parts of the descent to the other side. There we will see two lakes. The first small lake that is seen on the left is the Yamsar lake and the second one will be a nameless lake. The Yamsir, the nameless lake and Gadsar are all connected by a stream as water flows from the higher lake to the lower. Gadsar is again at 12,500ft. We will camp here.
(Overnight at Gadsar)
The Satsar camp is at 12,000ft and almost 10 kms away. Crossing the stream is the easiest way to trek. After crossing the stream, we will take the trail that goes up the mountain. The trail bends round to the left and leaves the river valley.
We are now walking on a flat trail surrounded by mountains on a meadow. This place is called as Maengandob. Towards the right is a small ridge. In between is a flat green bed with a stream flowing in between. We will camp at Satsar today.
(Overnight at Satsar)
We will trek up half an hour out of camp, to reach the biggest Satsar lake. The biggest of the Satsar lakes is also the last in the sequence. After the last lake the trail starts to descend. We will continue for half an hour on the main trail until you see the forest line ahead to your left.
A 45 minute trek with limited breaks will see us on top of the first ridge. Once on top, we see two more ridges to climb. A total two hour ascent brings you to the top of the 3rd ridge. Two lakes lie next to one another. The smaller lakes are nameless but the biggest amongst the set is the Gangabal. Take pictures of both sides and brace yourself for a steep stony descent.
Our destination is either the Gangabal or the Nundkol. The Gangabal lake is about 20 minutes away from Nundkhol. We will camp here.
(Overnight at Gangabal)
From the Gangabal camp site we will head down along the stream towards the tree line. An hour out of the camp site, we will hit the fringes of the tree line. Pine trees line the meadows and you also see traces of civilization with the presence of a log hut.
Do not walk into the forest directly but stick to its fringes and walk towards the right. Only after walking for 2/3 of the distance does the true descent begin. The descent is now really steep. The trail is a well-trodden, muddy one through the thick of the pines. It is not rare to spot a lot of people trekking up here from Naranag, headed to Gangabal.
Naranag slowly comes in sight at around 8,500 ft but there is quite a bit more to go. The last stretch of the last day 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.
Drive to Srinagar and reach by 6.30 pm. Stay overnight at Srinagar.
(Overnight at Srinagar)